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Carson McCullers died on September 29, 1967, at the age of 50.
September 29, 2018
On Tuesday, I wrote a column about Barstool Sports. As you can (hopefully) tell from the column, I am not a big fan of Barstool Sports, so I wrote a piece about why, and about some of the challenges I think they will face in the months and years to come. This is what I do, after all. I observe something in the world, I investigate it, I try to figure out what the right answer is and then I write about it. It’s what all the New York magazine columns are, and it’s what everything is: The world is a vast and magnificent place, and I try to use my little corner to make some sense of it. I have no more a “vendetta” against Barstool Sports than I do Daniel Murphy or D.J. Durkin or Roger Goodell. I write about something, and then I’m done, and I move onto the next thing. I don’t suspect I’ll have much reason to write, or even think much, about Barstool again. I’m onto David Lowery movies and the baseball playoffs and Christine Blase Ford and the ongoing book project and whatever else happens in this lunatic universe we now find ourselves in. The fun of this, to me, is getting to write about all of it.
But of course a disturbingly high percentage of Barstool people are insane, and after the piece was posted, they all went to the business of proving many of the things I had written, their vindictiveness, their reveling in cruelty, their weird desire to destroy anyone who dares criticize the sacred institution of ... (checks notes) ... a sports website. I woke up Wednesday morning to multiple login attempts to my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (which, honestly, those things cause me nothing but headaches anyway), disingenuous attempts to act as if obviously satirical pieces written 15 years ago were somehow straightforward statements of personal purpose and all sorts of emails pointing out my various levels of cuckdom. None of these were too terrible, all told, probably because I’m not a woman, and it had mostly died out by Friday. But I’m happy to say I missed almost all of it anyway. Other than occasional texts from friends asking me how I was “hanging in under the barrage” — which, for what it’s worth, is not particularly helpful, FYI; sometimes it’s better not to have confirmation that it looks like a “barrage” from the outside — and a few “how’s your mentions?” from people I ran into while in NYC for work, the whole thing happened almost entirely outside my purview. That was by design. Here, then, are a few helpful tips, lest you find yourself under any sort of online terror campaign. These worked for me. Maybe they can work for you.
Muting. I don’t block people on Twitter. (It always feels like letting them win somehow.) But muting is golden. My favorite thing about muting someone is that the person muted does not even know that it has happened. They’re just shrieking into the void. It makes literal what they are already figuratively doing: Just screaming to themselves. In a practical fashion, if there is a particular Twitter thread that is the focus of an organized campaign of screaming, like this one here, just mute the whole conversation. That way you not only miss all the people trying to get your attention, you don’t have to go through the trouble of muting individual people.
Staying away from Twitter in general. This is just a good idea for humanity. I swear, you will know when I have reached the zenith of my career when I either get off Twitter entirely or find some intern to just do it for me. I have to say, a social media intern would make my life so much happier, and would probably be good for me. Hey, anybody wanna be my social media intern? I’ll pay you and write letters of recommendation for you that will probably end up hurting you. Anyway, point is, I spend less time on Twitter every week, and my mental acuity and pleasantness have gone up exponentially. It’s really OK just to stay away, you won’t get lonely.
Third-party verification. Always, always do this. There were literally dozens of attempted hacks into my various accounts, and if I didn’t have third-party verification, I bet one or two of them would have gotten through. Always cover your back.
Be a guy. It’s just always easier. They don’t go as hard at guys. They just don’t. Honestly, the worst thing anybody can call me is a loser.
Be really busy. I was in New York this week, and I had multiple film screenings, several show tapings and the usual sprint-here-to-there-oh-c’mon-why-are-you-walking-so-slowwwww that being in New York always brings with it. It was very easy to ignore all of this when I had about 50,000 other, better things to do. If I had just been sitting in my desk, idling refreshing Twitter, I might have driven myself insane. Idle hands, devil’s playthings, all that.
Have something much more harrowing, horrifying and profoundly important happening that helps you remember just how dumb all this is.
That also helps. (Honestly, I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole here, but Thursday was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen. Both halves were demoralizing in entirely different but equally mortifying ways. I have no idea what the hell has happened to us. OK, maybe I have a guess.
But then Friday came, and those two amazing women in the elevator, and you think maybe kicking up a fuss can make a difference, that maybe there’s hope for all this yet.)
Anyway, if you end up on the wrong side of a bunch of shitheads, I hope these brief set of guidelines can be of some assistance. My goal is always to just get back to work. This helped me get back to work. That’s all I ever want.
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)
1. What Fresh Hell Is Barstool Sports? New York Magazine. This was definitely one of those pieces where a ton of colleagues send you Direct Messages and emails to thank you for writing it but do not dare publicly promote the piece themselves. I understand.
2. Review: “The Old Man and the Gun,” Paste Magazine. David Lowery is one of those filmmakers I was initially totally wrong about. This movie is great, and A Ghost Story was even better, and now he’s immediately top tier.
3. The Thirty: Each Team’s All-Time Ace, MLB.com. I am really coming to enjoy writing these.
4. Michael Moore Movies, Ranked, Vulture. Michael Moore hasn’t made that many great movies!
5. Will Smith Movies, Ranked, Vulture. This is probably better than the Moore piece, but it’s just an edited and recast version of something that ran months ago.
6. The 2018 MLB Season by Month, MLB.com. Man, wasn’t August great?
7. Debate Club: ‘80s Fantasy Films, SYFY Wire. Neither Grierson nor I like these sort of movies very much, so this was a stretch.
THE WILL LEITCH SHOW
No show this week. Back with a bunch more next week, though. Watch the old ones on Amazon or on SI TV.
Grierson & Leitch, busy show this week, with “Fahrenheit 11/9,” “The Land of Steady Habits,” “Life Itself,” “The Sisters Brothers” and “Student Bodies.
Seeing Red, MUCH to both my and Bernie’s frustration, we were unable to tape Monday’s show, something we learned at the very last second. And we couldn’t have possibly picked a worse time. We’ll be back Monday ... to cry.
Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, recap of the Missouri blowout, previewing the Tennessee blowout.
Try to be good to you, your loved ones and strangers this weekend. It’s a cruel world out there, and it’s getting crueler. But it doesn’t have to.