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The Trend Report™: Unfilled
Thinking about vacancy left by losing religion.
Israeli Police Beat Pallbearers
“suppressing the funeral processions”
“ingrained in our memory forever”
Not only was the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh a tragedy, but her funeral was marred by an attack by the Israeli police. Very fucked up!
Coronavirus wave this fall could infect 100 million
Long COVID' is a growing public health crisis
Don’t forget about this!!!!!!!
Facebook Trafficking, Union-Busting in Kenya
WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL USING META PRODUCTS!!!!!!
The massive, unregulated source of plastic pollution
Not to worry you but tiny, concentrated plastic bits called “nurdle” are wreaking havoc on the ocean.
This Year's Weird Flu Season Just Got Even Weirder
Not to worry you but…last year’s flu season is still going!!
Naomi Judd Died of a Self-Inflicted Wound
The death of Naomi Judd is very sad, particularly as it was by suicide. As her daughter, Ashley Judd said, “Mother used a firearm…if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.” We’re very much in a mental health crisis!
Imagine you were raised to love flowers. Your whole life, you were taught to pick and to prize flowers. You were taught that you, like so many, are a person who keeps flowers.
You create this beautiful vessel for your flowers. You are proud of your vessel! Maybe it’s a vase. Maybe it’s a small box! Maybe it’s paper you draw on to create bouquets. Regardless, you have this vessel and you fill it with flowers. Why? Because the point of flowers are to show off your flowers.
So…you show them off! Flowers bring us all joy – and it is the right thing to do to share them. You get together with your family and you share flowers. Your family and other families get together and share flowers. You even spend a few years in a flower school! Most nights in your week are spent sharing flowers – And what you think of flowers! – with other people who love flowers. Sometimes you all exchange flowers! Sometimes you give most of your flowers away, knowing that more flowers will come. Sometimes, you end up receiving flowers, so many that you have to make your vessel bigger. Your job, as someone who loves flowers, is to create a space for your flowers, to create a container for all your thoughts and ideas and wants and desires about flowers, so that you can share them with the world and help others see their beauty.
What happens, then, when all your flowers go away? What happens when, one day, you realize you don’t like flowers but that you only liked them because you were taught to like them. Yes, you think some flowers are pretty – but do flowers need to be picked? Maybe they should stay in nature? Maybe flowers should be respected where they are or encountered in ways that are specific to each individual. You don’t need to have flowers to be seen as special or to see yourself as special. Maybe flowers are actually…a waste?
Either way, you have this vessel. Regardless of whether you keep flowers or not, you are now in your late twenties or thirties or forties, etc. and you have this vessel that you created that is filled with…nothing. What do you do with it? Do you try putting different plants in there? Do you use it as a cup? You can’t give it away! And, yet, it’s there, with you all the time, wherever you go. Sometimes you put a single flower in it. Other times, on those rarer occasions, someone gives you a flower to put in there, where it sits, reminding you that you have this vessel – and that you don’t know what to do with it anymore.
Naturally, we’re not talking about flowers and vessels: we’re talking about religion and the space that is left in a life when religion has lost its meaning, when you find for whatever reason that the way religion “works” isn’t for you. This example isn’t perfect but it’s been on my mind for years now. It has to do with finding community and has to do with making sense of the space you have in you that was once full of beliefs, philosophies, and traditions that you no longer hold central to you. What become of the space that goes unfilled?
I don’t have an answer. (But I did almost start a podcast to talk about it!) This “thought” is starting to pick up steam though, as Gen Z and Millennials collectively are starting to realize we have these vessels – and we don’t know what to do with them. Neo-philosopher Adam Conover recently pointed this out in a TikTok musing on the loss and function of religion. “It’s a social phenomena,” he says, musing that sporting events or concerts have helped him commune in the way religions do, that these functions offer social connections of equal import.
This seems “right” but also feels both grossly capitalistic and one-dimensional, that religion is always about gathering around someone or some people to feel a certain way when, for many like myself, religion and the practice of religion is about gathering in small groups to talk and share in ways that go beyond the here and now, extending into the grander and deeper and, in some ways, the existential. It’s about helping people too, about making a lasting change in lasting relationships. It’s more than the momentary.
This is perhaps why views on abortion are so complicated because the religion of it all has become abstracted. This also relates to things like apatheism, a silly and stupid but interesting phenomena religious presses are talking about to express that someone does not care if God exists or not. One of the best examples of this is a New York Times story about how political shifts are breaking the church down even further.
Across the country, theologically conservative white evangelical churches that were once comfortably united have found themselves at odds over many of the same issues dividing the Republican Party and other institutions. The disruption, fear and physical separation of the pandemic have exacerbated every rift.
And what does that leave us with? People with empty vessels, who are filling them with things like extremist, internet-based QAnon style demagoguery. It leaves us with people filling their empty vessels with self-care activities to feel better. It leaves us in pursuit of personal gurus – a la, largely unavailable therapists – to help us work through our increasing mental health struggles. You could see pets or cooking or wine or Netflix or fandoms or Pride or any community item as what we use to fill our vessel now. But, ultimately, these things are only so helpful. The vessel only really works when there are flowers in there.
What do we do? I don’t know. I’ve been on a personal quest to “figure this out” for years and, while I’ve tried practices like Buddhism and meditation, they do offer a type of flower, but don’t seem to be “exactly” it. So, I continue to look. Maybe one day the vessel will be filled. Or maybe it will just be a sentimental item, to fill keep filling with flowers on the off chance I decide to have them.
Little Women Atlanta start Ms. Juicy had a stroke and is recovering and is raising money for her treatment. Help her out!!! If you don’t know Ms. Juicy, I assure you you do: she is a meme queen.
Netflix Game Show Reflects Post-Truth Times
I was just reading about On Bullshit and this show, while a little interesting, seems to capture how America has turned into the destination of scam culture. That’s not good, when everyone aspires to swindle! No wonder so many people are paranoid, indulging conspiracies: the light of truth has been extinguished.
Kevin Bacon Conversion Therapy Horror Film
I’m putting this here, not because I think it will be a good movie, but because I think I can sell my book better if this does well. Great and awful title.
Milla Jovovich Behind 'The Fifth Element'
A great interview with Milla about what went into creating The Fifth Element, from both a character to a style icon. She’s so great!
the fungi grew in his blood
A fascinating story about a man who injected himself with “magic” mushrooms, only to end up with them growing in his blood. It led to some organ failure – and speaks to the power of fungi.
Disrupting the Funeral
I am obsessed with Millennials (Or whomever!) killing the death industry and demystifying death.
Mystery of Anna Wintour's 'Go-to' Lunch
Obsessed with Anna Wintour’s awful lunch. (Which I would eat, for the record.)
The New York Women Who Love Fake Birkins
A little late but obsessed with the fake Birkin story. We should all only buy fakes!!
Everything trending all at once on TikTok
There goes my job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Avatar: The Way of Water
I don’t care about this movie. But what I do care about is the music, which seems like really interesting avant-ambient, as if someone gave Sign Libra or Mindspring Memories money to go create something on a massive scale. I am very excited for this music (and the Minions soundtrack) and am once again reminded that Daniel Lopatin has this music in him.
A collection of things I would write bigger essays on but…they are not worth the breath. They’re interesting! But not worth anything other than a logline.
Mundane Now: This Margaret Atwood essay reminds that, while we wax on about dystopias, we’re living in it – and it’s boring. I explored that last week, on how entertainment is feeling flat, but this story highlights how you don’t need women in red dresses to signal the end.
Scary Spam: There’s this trend every few months of plant accounts on Twitter that post content that goes extremely viral but they are ultimately stupid statements. The current one happening now are based on spam horror accounts, like @chuckybitch13, @annabellebitch7, and @themask7 (and distantly related is @yoda4ever).
Hear Amber: The whole Amber Heard and Johnny Depp thing really needs to be taken offline as it’s digging up basic, Chad madness when culture seems to be selective listening. Either way? We stan Julia Fox.
Bad Kids: After seeing this post, I realized there’s a dumb trend of nursey rhymes being turned into edgy songs. Think Gayle’s “abcdefu.” As this TikToker says, “it feels like music for Disney adults.” The best take on this bad trend!
Girlhood: This TikTok is the answer to Boyhood.
FRYING PAN CATCHES FIRE!
A reminder to know the basics of cooking and how fires work, courtesy of a Twitch streamer who almost burned a damn house down.
“first day of music rehearsals”
Queer musicals keep getting weirder!
“asking my white friend who black celebrities are”
“each word more shocking”
Gotta hand it to Taco Bell: they stop the internet down with their antics!
I love this explanation (Or takedown?) of why Jack Harlow is only cute in specific contexts.
“Steve Harvey makeup”
“this man is so sexy”
Also no notes!
If you’re going to watch any TikTok this week, let it be the one of the OnlyFans creator and his duck who paid for his sister’s student loans.
Love an inventive queen.
And, finally, people in Spain welcoming me.