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The Cracked Wisdom of Dril (newyorker.com)
76 points by miobrien 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 62 comments





Anyone on Twitter who doesn't follow Dril shouldn't be on Twitter. His Instagram is good too. I consider this to be his most important tweet of all time: https://twitter.com/dril/status/473265809079693312?s=20&t=Xd... which is the perfect troll against nihilistic / contrarian nerds

Sometimes, when I'm reading random articles (like this one), I'm struck with the feeling that most journalists inhabit the same tiny, tiny world.

There are definitely some laughs to be found skimming @drils Twitter, though.


I started interviewing people (across multiple different cities) for a new book I'm writing, and I'm shocked at how out of touch journalism has become.

I expected progressive / left leaning answers from late 20s/early 30s people. On issues like healthcare/marijuana the answers were what I expected. On issues of dating/love/gender roles, I found a far more traditional response from both men and women (including several who LGBTQ+). A total 180 from what my online reading has led me to believe.

Also, and my sample size is only ~30 so far, a total distrust/antagonism towards many feminist ideas. A common answer I received was: "I love the push for equal opportunities for men and women, but I desire [traditional gender role] and I dislike having to justify it to myself."


> A common answer I received was: "I love the push for equal opportunities for men and women, but I desire [traditional gender role] and I dislike having to justify it to myself."

I always found this interesting. Do they think that it's not an option anymore? That's like saying "look, I get that left-handed people should have equal opportunities, but I'm right handed." Why is the option of something else treated as a threat? Is it a form of projection, the fear that it will somehow become illegal to be traditional, because they themselves have been extremely hostile to the nontraditional?


I have to say, I find this sentiment confusing and unimaginative. Progressives never stop talking about all the subtle impediments to progress felt by marginalized groups -- microaggressions, stereotype threat, not seeing people who look like you in positions of power, what it's like to hold beliefs not shared by the dominant culture, etc, etc.

But then they express disbelief when a member of a group they've deemed to be "powerful" responds similarly to cultural messaging. If you're a slightly conservative/traditional person in a university or even just a major U.S. city, you're going to be bombarded with messaging that implies non-traditional choices should be exalted and that your traditional choices should at least be viewed with suspicion. Progressives of all people should understand why that might result in someone with traditional beliefs internalizing the notion that their choices are bad. "We're not saying your choices are bad, we're just saying over and over and over again that the other choices are good."

We're told that depictions of minorities in media can have powerful, life-altering effects, but when every commercial depicts dads as bumbling idiots and family life as chaotic and undesirable [0], suddenly there are no conceivable implications?

It's all pretty straightforward if you just take your own arguments seriously (and remember that individuals experience the world as individuals, even if they're part of some group you perceive to be privileged).

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kEYp6OY7BI


> "We're not saying your choices are bad, we're just saying over and over and over again that the other choices are good."

I think if anyone is being honest with themselves, this is not a threat. "Traditional choices" are still strongly represented in popular (liberal) media as the implicit default, and is still by far the "social default." Nobody gets ostracized for becoming a stay-at-home mom, and the breadwinner dad never has to explain themselves. I think we should be asking who is peddling the narrative that this is a "plot" to destroy their identity, and who gains. It is extremely effective at creating political unity.

It is hard to argue that "progressive media has gone too far", when the Texas GOP literally just declared homosexuality as abnormal as a part of their official platform. Traditionalism still rules.


> but when every commercial depicts dads as bumbling idiots and family life as chaotic and undesirable [0], suddenly there are no conceivable implications?

“Dads are numbing idiots” and “family life is chaotic and undesirable” are not progressive messages at all in any way, shape, or form. I agree with you, they’re terrible, and I hate them. But I think they’re the last remnants of Al Bundy era baby boomer “I hate my wife and my kids” messaging.

For an actual progressive take on dads and family life, check out the kids show Bluey.


+1 for the Bluey suggestion. The show is very sweet and funny, multi-layered, positive, caring.

Bluey was criticised for the exact same tropes. That the dad was the fun idiot who was incapable of doing basic organisational things like packing towels to go swimming.

> That the dad was the fun idiot who was incapable of doing basic organisational things like packing towels to go swimming.

That had to be written by either someone who only saw a single episode—or is performing such an incredible misreading of the show that I’d expect if they read “A Modest Proposal”, they’d wonder what spices Jonathan Swift used on his babies.


The bumbling idiot dad meme is just Mr. Mom being repackaged which I'm sure even Mr. Mom is just a repackaging of an earlier comedic trope along the same lines. I don't think these commercials are a magical threat to the health or wellbeing of the nuclear family.

Frankly, I'm also a little bit skeptical that the manner in which people who look you are depicted on television is a significant factor in anyone's life, but the point here is that it's an explicitly professed progressive belief. I'm really just asking people to take their own arguments seriously (or don't). You will never hear a progressive dismiss the depiction in media of a minority group the way you've just dismissed depictions of family life.

It's likely because it's funny and somewhat true. Usually both parents are just as hapless when caring for their kids since it's not exactly something you train up for historically.

This is a good question to add to my survey.

My suspicion is that these women feel as though their desired gender role(s) are being ignored or dismissed by media.

The only quote I have on this subject: "If all you see on TV and the internet is successful women CEOs being celebrated, you start to feel like that's the only way to be correctly feminine."

Several of my interviews veered into this territory, but I regret not pressing more into these feelings.


> “If all you see on TV and the internet is successful women CEOs being celebrated, you start to feel like that’s the only way to be correctly feminine.”

Unless you specifically and actively filter for such content, you aren’t going to end up with that as all you see. And even if you try to, I’m not sure you can, because there are very few properties that celebrate that way of being feminine exclusively, though there are plenty that include it.

This seems like a very contrived concern.


> If all you see on TV and the internet is successful women CEOs being celebrated, you start to feel like that's the only way to be correctly feminine."

That's an extremely weird media bubble they are in. One that I'm not sure exists outside their imagination.


In this case I could see a case where it could seem directly threatening: the more men that express wanting to be provided for, instead of working, the smaller the pool of potential partners for them. Traditionally, expressing that or acting on it would be a big social/reputational risk for a man.

Whether or not that's really true - "anyone who's going to be miserable because they're working full time and you don't isn't right for you" or somesuch - I could certainly see people feeling like it impacts them. It might feel like "oh, being a woman still has these other disadvantages that aren't fully eliminated, and now you're wanting me to give up something I see as one of the advantages in exchange for nothing."


"To the privileged, equality feels like oppression."

This is a low effort "gotcha" way of dismissing the real feelings of humans who are struggling to reconcile their deeply held desires with what they perceive in media.

This seems like a weird case though, because you don't need to look far at all to find "traditional" family structures in media, almost all depictions of stay at home moms is positive, with tons of media depicting stay at home mom as the "toughest job".

It seems possible that that condition is backlash against representation, and that people do get real feelings of struggle in response to their preferred lifestyle not being the only one depicted anymore. Feelings can be real and philosophically problematic, and even contrary to ones consciously held beliefs.


I have met several LGBT people who refer to heterosexual people by perjoratives like "the straights" and "cis scum" and openly mock things like traditional marriage ceremonies. Like, in real conversations. To people's faces.

Unsurprisingly, straight people do not like this. People do not step back and say, "Gee, this person has clearly had some bad experiences that made them this much of a snarky asshole. Overall heterosexual people are not persecuted and homosexual people often are, so I shouldn't feel like my way of life is under existential threat. These verbal jabs can't really hurt me."

Nobody thinks like this. They just get mad.

Now is this scenario really relevant to actual discussion of what "equality" and "oppression" mean? Not really. But on the Internet we very quickly reach the lowest common denominator of discussion.


> I have met several LGBT people who refer to heterosexual people by perjoratives like "the straights" and "cis scum" and openly mock things like traditional marriage ceremonies. Like, in real conversations. To people's faces.

And a gay person has probably encountered thousands of people that have attitudes like that toward their sexuality... I really don't know what your point is.

I went to a well-known hippie college and knew people that were gender studies majors, LGBT, etc., and none of them resemble your characterization.


Regarding the grandparent comment:

> "To the privileged, equality feels like oppression."

My point is that the quote is accurate, but in an upside-down-and-backwards way. The privileged, by and large, aren't sitting around in country clubs smoking fat cigars and complaining about how they now have to tolerate degenerates. They are everyday people who now have to deal with new ideas they don't understand and might not like, especially if the people presenting them are actively antagonistic about it. Even though feeling oppressed != being oppressed, it's easy to understand how that could feel oppressive, and could prompt backlash.

Hence the parent comment:

> This is a low effort "gotcha" way of dismissing the real feelings of humans who are struggling to reconcile their deeply held desires with what they perceive in media.

---

A personal example: I have no problem with gay people. There was a thread about polyamory posted a while back, though. I absolutely hate the idea and I find I don't get along with people who subscribe to it. I have trouble reconciling my belief that people, politically and socially, should be mostly free to do whatever they want, with the fact that I think polyamory is just gross and a bad idea. The few people in the polyamory community I have met didn't, uh, make this any easier.


You really can't refrain from sharing your prejudices apparently.

I was born and am a good example of a privileged straight white male... so why is it that I have absolutely no trouble distinguishing between the minuscule number of zealous or hateful gay people out there, many of whom hold no position of power in society, in contrast to the large group of dimwitted retrogrades who are unable to reckon with the personal freedoms of others? These are the same people that gravitate toward religious lunacy and repressive politics in general all over the world.

I wonder why you even bring up homosexuality and polyamory together. Maybe next you'll dig up some stats to associate the two, but what you don't understand is that there's another way to live entirely and it's this... I don't care at all about the consensual romantic lives of other adults, I try to avoid characterizing gay, straight or really any large cohort of people as a group, and I especially don't feel any need to justify my straightness to anyone at all. It's pretty simple.


> You really can't refrain from sharing your prejudices apparently.

Part of my point is that most people can't or don't. Should it be different? Yes. Is it going to be? Not anytime soon. Does this mean you think these people are categorically evil?

> in contrast to the large group of dimwitted retrogrades who are unable to reckon with the personal freedoms of others? These are the same people that gravitate toward religious lunacy and repressive politics in general all over the world.

Apparently so... I think that's pretty ironic. You're asking me to be empathetic, to not stereotype, and to see the bigger picture. But you think everyone who doesn't feel exactly as you do is a lunatic or a fascist?

Look, the spirit of the original comment thread wasn't criticizing any specific group of people, it was saying that equality doesn't happen overnight. Not everyone is 100% on board all the time, or will even always agree with what equality means. Accept that change is slow and hard, and empathize with the normies who you clearly think are beneath you, and I promise you will win more hearts and minds.


“With what they perceive in media.” I notice even in defense you say their threats are “perceived”.

Yes, let's all offer our deepest thoughts and prays to these individuals enduring this terrible imaginary plight.

There's this thing on social media (and somewhat less strongly irl) of backlash when you're talking about your choices. Breastfeeding is a big no no on social media, it gets such angry backlash. Just saying you're seeing many advantages, and are happy doing it, brings out so many angry variations of 'well not everyone can do it'. I just feel it's good to put positive experiences out, 'you're shaming people that can't or have decided to bottlefeed' WTF? And don't get me started on angry women calling my wife names because she breastfed twins. Oh see the anger also when she did until they were 3 years old. I don't understand this anger especially when she's only saying 'it was great because x and y'.

Same for staying at home with the kids and trying progressive parenting. The things she gets called...

Why? She's doesn't even think of teaching or berating, she's just sharing her joy and all the positive stuff some life choices can bring... So much anger and and self-judgement out there.


The push for equal opportunities tends to cast the traditional roles in a subtly negative light.

Oh may be they have felt societal pressure not to follow this traditional gender role?

My new game is watching when something online doesn’t interview people directly but simply reports on what someone on Twitter or Reddit said (and half the time they do have a picture and a name it’s a Twitter user they contacted).

The world outside the internet is getting wider and wider it seems.


I've started not considering it "news" if your article consists just of idle online chatter. If no action is being taken, there's a good chance it's not anything more than background noise of the "people will always talk about SOMETHING" type.

Good observation. It's the purest form of intellectual laziness.

This is a low effort "gotcha" way of dismissing the work of real humans who are struggling to meet newsroom deadlines and productivity schedules as their industry gets picked over by vulture capital in the wake of online news, craigslist/social/app classifieds, and social/search ads hoovering up most of their revenue streams.

(I agree these are cheap, fluff news--but it's hard to judge most individual reporters when you know the ground financial truth of the industry. Even at pretty venerable publications people are having to hustle hard for salaries that few people with programming jobs in the same city would even entertain. People at smaller legacy news outlets are working for schoolteacher wages or worse without the benefits or job security.)


Reposting reddit comments is hardly work. If that style of journalism vanished nobody would care. People who find themselves doing that should consider a different career. I wouldn't be surprised if the attrition rates for the industry are very high.

Sure--but getting clicks is (~now) part of their job.

I'm aware. I have no respect for that at all. I'd rather many of those people literally get paid to do nothing than generate clickbait. What a sorry state for a profession that allegedly aspires to speak truth to power. In my mind it's like doctors who have sunk to pushing vitamin water supplements on personal-brand style websites.

You do realize the reporters didn't go to journalism school because they dream of churning out clickbait for a living, yeah? I'm sure the vast majority of them would rather be paid to do nothing than to generate clickbait, too. (Or, you know, be paid to challenge the powerful.)

In 2003--my freshman year in college--I worked for the online desk at my hometown newspaper. I worked overnight. Once the print paper was ready, I reviewed and massaged automatically-converted copies of the for-print layout to ensure they were ready to publish online and manually pulled them from the quark files if they weren't. Our online desk was in one corner of a cavernous newsroom with scores and scores of desks, between the compositor and the sports desk.

There were more sports reporters working the desk next to me in 2003 than the total number of reporters left at the entire paper now. The industry is a husk.


What's interesting to me, I think, is that it's not that hard to find mainstream media that promotes a lot of these same ideas. Start with the most watched cable TV network. ;)

Yet even the people on Fox News would largely agree with the view that they are somehow "outside" the norm. While happily pocketing their advertiser money for having the most viewers...

My question is: why do people let them? It only helps the truly extreme! In two main ways: First, the more the truly extreme can convince the moderates/"traditional" that it's "us against the world," the easier to radicalize them. Second, the less that progressive folks accurately represent the prevalence of such views, the more out of touch their messaging inevitably will become in an echo chamber, shooting themselves in the foot.

The fact that Twitter is full of people who get lots of views for screaming about stuff that is actually quite mainstream in the US and even globally is an indictment of Twitter, too, for that matter. Why are we still paying attention?


>A common answer I received was: "I love the push for equal opportunities for men and women, but I desire [traditional gender role] and I dislike having to justify it to myself."

It's funny how some folks think that they have to justify anything they do. It doesn't seem to like click with some folks that if you have to justify something that you're doing but it doesn't truly affect others in the sense that it's an impediment to their health and happiness then maybe there's no need to justify it at all and that all the pressure that you're feeling is others being... a-holes. Just a random thought I guess.


Care to elaborate?

Just edited my comment, happy to expand further if you want me to.

> On issues of dating/love/gender roles, I found a far more traditional response from both men and women AND trans people.

Slight nit in that (most) trans people would also fall under men and women. (Sorry to be that person, it's just something I've learned a lot about semi-recently.)

Curious to hear an elaboration on the definition of "far more traditional response" - I can think of a few things that could mean, and some of them I would find surprising and some I wouldn't.


Good catch, I corrected my comment.

I'm writing about dating/love/relationships since I haven't been single as an adult until now. I have a funny/unique perspective since I'm now almost 30 and brand new to the game.

Here are some of the answers that were 100% unanimous amongst the heterosexual women I interviewed:

- Men should take on all form of "handyman" chores ("it's so hot when he uses his tools")

- Men should pay for dates/meals (within reason - but the baseline expectation of a "man who can provide" is there)

- Men should not cry unless there is a "good reason." This is actually a more complicated answer, and I'm still trying to figure it out. When pressed, women said that men crying can be very attractive if grounded in emotional maturity rather than "childish crying." Again, still trying to figure this one out.

- Men should pursue women. Women find it unattractive if they have to pursue men.

- Women highly value men who approach them in public (in an appropriate environment). My follow-up question was: "what if they're not attractive?" to which they replied something like "it's fine as long as they handle rejection well."

- Women want men who are more confident than they are.

- Men should always "take the lead" in dating and even throughout relationships. My follow-up question was: "but at what point does equality or partnership come into play?" To which the common response was: "I like taking the lead sometimes, but I don't want to be the leader."

- Women prefer "dad bods" as opposed to "jacked" or "body builder" looking men. This article: https://nypost.com/2021/03/25/dad-bods-are-the-biggest-turn-... was used as one of the references. I would describe this as men who are physically strong but have 12-18% bodyfat. - Women prefer tall men, but "it's more of a wishlist item than a strict requirement"

These answers are based on a sample size of 15 heterosexual women and will likely have less unanimity once I'm done.

Some of them are quite obvious, but some of them were shocking to me because I've read a few too many "articles" from blue checkmark Twitter users which made me think traditional masculinity was an inconvenient character flaw rather than something women were directly attracted to and looking for.

I'll be sending out a few chapters in the coming months: https://theloveoncepromised.com/


Interesting results!

I'd be interested to hear more details on the demographics - I suspect that as the demographics get younger, the less these points will hold true.

My comments below are based in my own experience, and observations of my peers (ETA: Comments here are are all analysis of hetero relationships):

The points where I would expect to see the most variance from individual to individual:

> Men should take on all form of "handyman" chores ("it's so hot when he uses his tools")

In several heterosexual families I know, it's the woman who does most to all of the "handyman" type chores, and it's preferred that way.

> Men should pay for dates/meals (within reason - but the baseline expectation of a "man who can provide" is there)

This varies by couple in my experience. Some split everything 50/50ish, some the man pays by default. Don't think I've seen any where the woman always pays.

> Men should always "take the lead" in dating and even throughout relationships. My follow-up question was: "but at what point does equality or partnership come into play?" To which the common response was: "I like taking the lead sometimes, but I don't want to be the leader."

I'd be very surprised to see this play out at 100%, but I could be wrong. Most healthy relationships I've seen have been very much equal back and forth, or having each individual lead where they are most qualified (regardless of traditional gender roles).

> Men should not cry unless there is a "good reason." This is actually a more complicated answer, and I'm still trying to figure it out. When pressed, women said that men crying can be very attractive if grounded in emotional maturity rather than "childish crying." Again, still trying to figure this one out.

A "good reason" is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. I'd say it would be reasonable to not expect any adult not to cry if not given a "good reason". An analysis of what constitutes a "good reason" will vary individual to individual in all likelihood, and is probably too complex for an HN comment :P.

Ones I'm not shocked by:

> Men should pursue women. Women find it unattractive if they have to pursue men.

> Women highly value men who approach them in public (in an appropriate environment). My follow-up question was: "what if they're not attractive?" to which they replied something like "it's fine as long as they handle rejection well."

In my experience and observation of others, no one wants to make the first move :P . As such, with societal expectation being on the man (in hetero relationships), it makes sense the woman would be happy with that.

> Women prefer "dad bods" as opposed to "jacked" or "body builder" looking men. This article: https://nypost.com/2021/03/25/dad-bods-are-the-biggest-turn-... was used as one of the references. I would describe this as men who are physically strong but have 12-18% bodyfat. - Women prefer tall men, but "it's more of a wishlist item than a strict requirement"

These check out with everything I've seen/heard.

> Women want men who are more confident than they are.

Everybody likes confident people. (I think?)

Other comments:

> but some of them were shocking to me because I've read a few too many "articles" from blue checkmark Twitter users which made me think traditional masculinity was an inconvenient character flaw rather than something women were directly attracted to and looking for.

This is probably due to the distaste for "toxic masculinity". Healthy masculinity is what's described above, whereas "toxic masculinity" is that taken to extremes where it is no longer healthy (ie. "Men no longer should cry at all", as opposed to "Men should cry if there is a good reason" or "A man should be able to provide" vs "If a man isn't providing everything from outside the house, he and his wife are failing")


Any interesting surprises?

I can tell you that most people do not believe that trans X are “ACTUALLY X” or that transgender women should be in competitive womens sports. It’s like, OK, you want to be a woman, you do you but don’t get into my women-only spaces. But most people with influence regardless of their beliefs don’t really say this in public.

I’ve never met a single person in real life who believes this (TWAW, etc.). But places like Twitter are foaming with accounts that at least perform these beliefs.

We're here too! Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Nice to meet you.

True!

Also, trans rights are human rights.

For anyone looking to understand more on any given lgbtq+ topic, I highly recommend One Topic at a Time on YouTube. He does videos covering memes from various subreddits, and often learns/teaches about these topics.


How do you know? Do you go around asking every person you meet about this?

> Sometimes, when I'm reading random articles (like this one), I'm struck with the feeling that most journalists inhabit the same tiny, tiny world.

This isn't really a random article, though. It's a link delivered to you on the front page of a social media network you frequent (Hacker News). Anything that gets posted here and collects enough upvotes is pre-filtered to match the world that this audience inhabits.

That said, IMO there is a growing problem in the journalism world with journalists spending too much time on Twitter. A lot of online journalism feels like someone who spends all day on Twitter noticed something quickly increasing in popularity and then rushed to write an article about it.


Dril has about the same number of followers on Twitter as The Guardian has daily active readers. I don't know where you set the bar for relevance, but the author of this piece doesn't even live in America.

Ah, I shouldn't have assumed. The language and the U.S. *zine lulled me into complacence. The feeling continues, nonetheless.

> the same tiny, tiny world

Manhattan? To be fair, probably Brooklyn, too, in recent years.


I've recently become friends with someone originally from the west coast, but spent a good part of his early adult life in New York.

He has a shockingly large Twitter following for no obvious reason (e.g. hasn't done anything particularly interesting) and definitely lives in an obscure inner world.

I increasingly believe that the media landscape is overwhelmingly influenced by bored, yuppy, trustifarian, white New Yorkers who are completely detached from the realities of the average American.


Hasn’t this been the case to some degree for decades? Maybe journalists at big national publications, and now those are what’s pretty much left

Columbia Journalism School… my perception is that it’s like Stanford in the startup world. (But I’ve never been to either.)

The world of journalism is both shrinking and consolidating. Aside from their being fewer and smaller newsrooms, they're all on Twitter following each other.

Ben Franklin was a prolific author and publisher. He would have owned something significantly larger and better than Twitter, not been a social media consumer and meme reposter

You don't have to consume social media to post social media. He was a prolific pamphlet writer, which could be considered the bite-sized easily consumable publication of his day.

Without really knowing too much about the guy outside of his historical impact, I think he would use whatever method was effective at promoting his ideas.


Ben Franklin was shitposting even in the 18th century.

One of his greatest hits was a proposal to transport rattlesnakes back to Britain in exchange for the felons transported to America, "to have them carefully distributed in St. James’s Park, in the Spring-Gardens and other Places of Pleasure about London; in the Gardens of all the Nobility and Gentry throughout the Nation; but particularly in the Gardens of the Prime Ministers, the Lords of Trade and Members of Parliament; for to them we are most particularly obliged".

After living in France and observing their local custom of sleeping in as late as noon, he wrote a long, satirical letter relating his "discovery" that the sun rose in the morning. "Your readers who, with me, have never seen any signs of sunshine before noon, and seldom regarded the astronomical part of the almanac, will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of his rising so early, and especially when I assure them, that he gives light as soon as he rises." Later on he proposes, "Every morning, as soon as the sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest."

You can't tell me this guy would have been able to resist Twitter.




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