Discover more from Follow Friday
Downvoting Reddit, healthy anxiety, and a truly unhinged dentist's office
Plus: PDA self-defense, private equity kudzu, and the problem with digital nomads.
Welcome to Follow Friday! A quick movie recommendation before we get into it: Past Lives. I saw it last weekend in San Francisco but I think it’s only now starting to pop up in more theaters across the country. A gorgeous, nuanced romantic drama by first-time director Celine Song that everyone should see.
The single best thing I saw online this week: On Instagram, Uyen Ninh offers funny observations on being a Vietnamese immigrant in Germany, and the things her German boyfriend doesn’t understand about her life & family. My partner loves these videos, for good reason: Uyen is hilarious. Case in point, this video about how to protect yourself when the person you’re dating tries to show affection in front of your parents.
The best podcasts I’ve heard recently
Decoder host Nilay Patel was a lawyer before he started writing for Engadget and then co-founded The Verge, and even though he claims he wasn’t a very good lawyer, I love whenever he gets to talk about the intersection of business and the law. In this wonky interview with federal prosecutor Brendan Ballou, he goes deep on how private equity firms have worked the courts and grown like kudzu across the economy, ensnaring everything from nursing homes to Toys ‘R’ Us to solar energy. Brendan, the author of a new book called Plunder, very effectively argues that the public should paying a lot more attention to PE firms — and explains why we don’t.
I’ve written here before about how much I like Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri’s If Books Could Kill — so much so that backing them on Patreon was a no-brainer. Their bonus episodes tend to stray from bestsellers of the past into political/cultural issues of the present; the most recent one is a super well-researched explanation of the backlash to Budweiser and Target over their Pride Month campaigns. It’s kind of infuriating how effective these boycotts were, but Michael and Peter find the humor in the insanity.
My expectations for the Barbie movie could not be higher, and it’s not because of the all-star cast or the IP: It’s because of director Greta Gerwig, whose previous two films were an ingenious adaptation of Little Women and a modern coming-of-age masterpiece, Lady Bird. In this episode of This Ends at Prom, BJ and Harmony Colangelo are joined by Drew Burnett Gregory to spell out all the ways the movie is brilliant. I love how carefully the hosts navigate around their love for Allison Janney to point out that, yeah, Laurie Metcalfe really deserved that Oscar.
For weekly podcast recommendations, links, videos and more, subscribe. It’s free!
welp i’m no longer obsessed with reddit
For those of you don’t obsessively follow social media platform drama, Reddit’s leadership is engaged in trench warfare with its community. Jason Koebler has an excellent writeup of how it started and what’s at stake in Motherboard, andconnects the battle to a “decade of recklessness by investors” that has “poisoned” many otherwise fine companies before it.
TL;DR: Reddit wants to control and monetize its users more, and to do that, it’s squeezing out apps and tools favored by its power users and volunteer moderators. In my view, these people are the reason Reddit works, and pushing them away is a Kendall Roy-level act of self-destruction.
In solidarity with the moderators who took large sections of Reddit offline earlier this week, I deleted the Reddit app from my phone on Sunday, and soon after also deleted the excellent third-party app Apollo, which is where I have done 99% of my Reddit browsing for years. It’s where I’ve collected some of my favorite videos, memes, and links that I’ve shared in this newsletter, and has been one of my go-to apps after any TV show or movie.
To my surprise, though, deleting these apps didn’t hurt. The ongoing battle over Reddit is already having other negative consequences, as Jay Peters writes in The Verge, but I’m ready to move on. The executives’ pigheaded attempt to cash out has convinced me I don’t need to go back, and I’d encourage others to do the same. My RSS reader is feeling the love.
Here’s a great video about the design of 1990s sitcom logos
The latest from LightningPod
Here’s what I’ve been producing and editing recently:
On The Smart Home Show, Adam Justice continued his quest to build a perfect home theater. Joined by his cohost Richard Gunther and their panel of home theater experts — TJ Huddleston and Seth Johnson from the HomeTech Podcast and Owen Maddock from Cinemaworks — Adam updates us on everything that has happened since our last check-in, including new plans for his screen and projector, and a commitment to a great remote control.
On Grit, Joubin Mirzadegan interviewed DocuSign President Robert Chatwani about why it’s good to feel some “healthy anxiety” about getting comfortable in a job — like Robert, I believe you learn more when you don’t let yourself settle into a rut of doing the same thing over and over again. I was also moved by the story about his friend and former co-founder Sameer Bhatia, which taught Robert a humbling lesson about trying to control every outcome.
On Building Better CMOs, Greg Stuart talked to Kraken CMO Mayur Gupta about marketing a crypto brand with a soul, aligning the C-Suite to marketing objectives, building transparency and accountability, and the four eras of marketing. Mayur says that, beginning with COVID but continuing to the present day, it is impossible to foster long-term growth “in any silo.” Plus: The book that changed Greg's life, and two leadership lessons from Mayur that will make any organization stronger.
And on the season finale of The Brand Publishing Show, Shareen Pathak interviewed Andrew Nusca, the recently-hired editor in chief of the video game studio Activision Blizzard. Nusca explains how brand journalism is merging with editorial, what it means to forge a direct relationship with a global audience of gamers, and how AI is changing the game.
Is this dentist’s office AI-generated?
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
In a follow-up video, she wonders if this office was a front for money-laundering. I can’t get over “Health Day Living,” though. Or “Nate.” So many questions.
The best thing I’ve read this week
As a self-employed person who can work from almost anywhere in the world, I’ve often entertained the idea of leaving the country and spending a year in another city, maybe one with a lower cost of living than San Francisco (i.e. almost any of them). There are lots of people who have actually followed through on this fantasy, called digital nomads. They’re also, unfortunately, gentrifying wherever they congregate: Driving up the average rent, pricing out locals, and more:
Arturo Mares, the furniture store clerk in Roma Norte, said his livelihood had been threatened by the arrival of the nomads. “This neighborhood was already expensive and local salaries are just not enough,” he said. Mares said the influx of the nomads hadn’t equated to better wages. “As a waiter or a clerk, bosses and owners start increasing your quotas. You have to sell more and still be paid the same salaries,” he said.
Even as touristification drives up rents, some complain it can also destroy the character of neighborhoods and lead to exploitation. In El Poblado, the formerly artsy district of Medellín, painter Brian Sánchez said that sexual tourism had become a problem in the area. “The nomads bring a lot of good ideas, and they popularized this place via social media, but that brought a different sort of tourist,” said Sánchez, who was priced out of his studio after his rent more than doubled to $1,500 a month.
It’s a complicated thing with few easy answers, and Stephen Witt unpacks it all for Rest of World. Read the whole thing here.
Palate cleanser: How to be a Disney princess
Trust me and click these:
Actually The Onion: 56 Dead At New Six Flags Fire Park