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I honestly wish more was written about the experiences of the in-between essential and WFH workers. I should not be the star, but I work building operations, in NYC. I've been going in since March 13th 2020, as have my staff, we all wear pants, I think I showed up in shorts once. I WFH a few days here and there when things are steady and I let some of my managers do the same, but buildings don't do well when left alone and they certainly don't do well when they still need to function as the space they were designed to be. We have precious things inside that must be secured and maintained. I biked in a lot because I like biking, and it felt safer and healthy. But also through this, I talked to people and looked them in the eyes and discussed repairs and wore masks inside and stayed socially distant but would take masks off when working on the roof. I have friends who were laid-off and I also made decisions in the moment when my friends were struggling to weigh the risks of their own mental health vs. getting covid, I even went into "gasp" a person's apartment to help them when they were feeling too isolated and trapped. I just finished reading the NYtimes Morning and I really am concerned at times about the public's ability to understand risk, and it is certainly not helped by mixed messaging from experts and infighting between mayors and governors, looking at you Cuomo/BDB. Also, I ate a fried egg this morning and the yolk was pretty runny got all over my mask.

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Pants!

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The public’s lack of ability to understand risk is staggering. Not sure whether it has been this bad all along or the current moment has set it back, but I don’t see how it will get better anytime soon.

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I remember during the winter when we were hit by a ton of snow I needed to go into the building to deal with some ice issues and the person I was dating was shocked that I was going to take the subway and not bike. I tried to kindly explain my thoughts as I have a higher likelihood of death or injury by biking in a snow storm across NYC than I do riding the subway double masked. It's not that we shouldn't take Covid seriously, we absolutely should I have friends and coworkers who lost loved ones and who ended up very sick but getting hit by a car is also a risk that should be accounted for too.

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I’m tickled by something Matt mentioned at the end, the fixation in NYC centric media on those who left the city. ‘Will we accept back those who fled?’ Meanwhile as far as I can see the rest of NY is begging people to return, welcoming with open arms, considering voting for them for mayor, etc

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Yeah it’s a very weird thing to experience as someone who actually grew up in the city and has watched a million people come and go over the years. Obviously any normal person hopes that people come back!

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As someone who lives in a semi-rural destination that has soaked up a lot of pandemic exiles from the City, I too hope they'll go back.

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Can your town not handle the extra people or is it just New Yorkers suck.

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You see? This is that either/or thinking that marks you as a white supremacist.

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These people talk as though they had lived through the Siege of Leningrad, and were going to swap stories about being reduced to eating the hooves of Central Park horses. Get over yourselves.

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Can we get a comment of the week type feature around here? This made me laugh loud enough to disturb my dog.

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Laughs aside, I should acknowledge that thousands of people died of COVID in NYC, and as a result thousands of people were left in genuine grief. And thousands of health-care workers went through a pretty hellish couple of months a spring ago, when NYC was the epicenter. Those people have a right to tell war-stories, and I should not make light of that.

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I'm hoping at least we'll get an updated "Decameron" out of this, though I have no idea who would be our Boccaccio.

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I reread most of the original Decameron over the past few months (I have 4 stories left) and I wondered they might not remake it as an anthology TV series with a frame story about 20-30somethings quarantining together in a "work from travel" Airbnb in the Poconos or something.

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Right. And nobody working at the NYT is from New York anyway. They all moved there five years ago and perceived the city as theirs. At least I have the graciousness to consider myself a transplant and, in some ways, a guest.

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It does seem like freshly minted NYers eager to show off their newfound credibility. They just need to chill out for a minute, I’m sure people will be happy to pat them on the back once tourists are packing the streets and businesses stop shuttering.

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I have a relative who is a fashion designer in NYC. That industry was hit hard but was also overcapacity. She was furloughed and then laid off and couldn't get a job. So she rented out her apartment, moved back in with her parents, and is now trying to start something new because there aren't jobs in the city right now. So a lot of people left NYC because they really didn't have a choice.

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I think in newsrooms this was a very binary haves v have nots (or younger vs older) and that’s true overall as well since better off people were more likely to be able to do remote work or have a second home.

But, yes, there’s a lot of variation and some better off people couldn’t leave bc they have put a lot of money into owning a place in an expensive city while others who left felt forced out of their rental by job losses.

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Can you describe this a little more? What's the logic or emotion behind the resentment? It's not like the leavers all went to zero-covid New Zealand or something. It sounds so bizarre to me. Is it something you see in the NYTs? And where do you get the sense that the vast majority of the public has the opposite feeling? I'm too far from any NYC bubble to have any idea

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Hm I remember Ben Smith (who had a house outside of the city to go to) wrote a column for the Times pretty early on about bad blood inside media orgs over who had somewhere to go and who didn’t. I recall a couple of opinion pieces on how to make people pay for leaving town and human interest stories about people who don’t want the crowds to come back. And Andrew Yangs opponents in the mayoral primary all have hit him for having his family stay outside of the city. But I guess the real flavor comes from reading nyc based journalists tweets this past year.

Personally, we’ve had families trickling back into my daughters school and our apartment building all year. And everyone is delighted to see them! In terms of data, it doesn’t seem like Yang has paid much of a price in public opinion. I do hear the occasional regretful comment from someone who stuck around but hasn’t yet gotten the chance to get a good deal on a new apartment rental.

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Thanks, that's interesting. There's nothing comparable where I live, as far as I know, so it feels like hearing about a foreign land or reading a memoir from the 19th century

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founding

As someone not from New York who relocated to Austin for half the pandemic, I've been glad to be surrounded by Bay Areans and New Yorkers - it makes me feel like I'm back home (wherever that is).

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I never respected the DC playground ban. I did civil disobedience.

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The playground ban was hellish living in a small apartment with a 2ish year old with a ton of energy. At least the NPS stayed open the whole time so we could run around on their open spaces.

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I feel Matt Brueing in the comments might be even be better than on Twitter. You’re less likely to get canceled here.

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"Most people work in person"

This article glosses over a small but crucial distinction between "most workers" and "most people". Matt correctly points out that most *workers* are unable to work from home and thus live comparatively normal lives.

However, most *people* are significantly affected by the pandemic. Currently, the nation's employment-to-population ratio is just 57% due to the prevalence of retired people, stay-at-home parents, college students, and the unemployed. If you factor in children aged 16 and younger, the share of employed Americans is just 46%. If you subtract those workers who are engaged in telework, the share of Americans doing in-person work is about 37%.

Viewed through this lens, the focus on pandemic lockdown restrictions makes sense. For most of the non-employed, life is substantially different as a result of the pandemic. Although they are not "working from home" in the traditional sense, they are generally staying home and unable to engage in their ordinary day-to-day activities. So although hand-wringing about an inability to make eye contact is silly fodder for an article, I think it does in some way reflect the concerns and lived experience of most people.

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I think you've identified one of the weird things about 2020 - we shut down enough stuff to heavily affect the economy, change peoples lives, etc, but it wasn't a "real" lock-down and lots of people have been out wearing pants. I'm not sure if the gap is because it only takes a moderate economic slow-down to be a big deal, or because the impact of those slow-downs is felt very unevenly.

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Important thing to remember is that most (or at least much) of the economic effect wasn't from the not-lockdowns, it was just people not wanting to go to restaurants. Also, imposing lockdowns actually saved many businesses because eg events have no other way to get out of their hotel contracts, and restaurants lose more money at 50% business than 0%.

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37% is still an absolutely massive number.

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The media are isolated in a bubble in other ways as well. Reporters are young and act as if there is no such thing as history. Calling the recent economic data "unprecedented" is evidence that they never lived through or studied the 1970s.

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Wait until they experience inflation!

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Like renting an apartment in 2011 compared to now? Most of us have experienced this in a relative way.

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That experience of rent going from 700 a month to 2500 a month is big city bubble thing Nyc dc sf la.

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I grew up an hour outside SF, and have lived elsewhere in Ca, Sacramento, napa valley etc for work and can assure you that rent inflation between 2000-2017 was not limited to just the cities. The renters market in napa valley in 2015 was such that property mgmt was asking for massive deposits (2-3k) to rent basic 1 bedroom duplex living quarters at 2k/mo. It has not improved in the years after I left CA. Sacramento is much the same today, it’s not a big city. Small town with a few buildings. In Portland now, which has had its own rent boom, even with nonstop building unlike the Bay Area. It affects a huge portion of the population, way too much to dismiss it as a big coastal city bubble phenomenon.

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By the way, Napa Valley, ultimate NIMBY colony

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I'm confused, or don't understand the history. When in the 1970s did we see over 30 million American workers file for initial unemployment in less than 2 months? What's the precedent?

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I am talking about those who are saying that prices rising when we are not at full employment is some unprecedented occurrence

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Travel for work. As you guys know. Sitting in South Paulo airport in Brazil right now drinking a cappuccino at Starbucks. It’s pretty terrible.

I spent last week in New York City, and it was a culture shock to see how skittish people were. People walking their dogs, no one around wearing masks. It is such a culture shock compared to every place else in the country that I work.

I don’t think I’ve read an article this year, that has really captured work the real life is like for us normal people. I would describe it as normal life, with a lot of inconveniences.

I know the difference between Liberals and Conservatives is meant to be openness vs Conscientiousness, but it doesn’t jive with the risk management I see. Conservatives more likely to not wear masks and continue on with life. Whereas liberals are more likely to stay home and wear masks religiously.

My brother and his wife refused to drive anywhere that would require them to use a bathroom. That was their rule. No long drives. No day trips. One single grocery trip a week. Zero meals out. (This is in Los Angeles). Very liberal.

Meanwhile, I’ve been flying all over the country. Brother thinks I’m practically Trump.

One of my biggest beef’s with this whole thing is the way the term essential worker has been fetishized. I’m not even sure it means what it’s meant to mean. And it usually leaves out a whole lot of people who are really essential.

Anyway. I’ve seen this sort of.... we aren’t representative take from Matt several times. Also from other pundits. But let’s face it, no regular people aren’t their demographic, they’re not reading the articles. If I asked 100 people that I deal with in a normal day, I would be surprised if more than five ever heard of Matthew Yglesias. I’m not picking on them, but Maddie has been around a while and is a known name. I put the number of people that live read even one Matthew at least this article has probably less than 10% of all adults. In fact, he probably got more exposure on Joe Rogan then he has with anything in the rest of his career.

I don’t want this to come across as derogatory towards Matt, obviously a paid subscriber and a big fan. I’m using him more as an example. Just that, I don’t blame the out of touch articles.

Anyway, I’m wearing jeans right now. I haven’t wore leggings are here, even though I would look fabulous in them.

On my way to Cuiaba later. So just people watching here in Brazil. The last time I was here was last March, win I sort of knew this Covid thing was going to kick off. Airport is a lot less crowded, everyone is wearing masks. The women are still beautiful. And that was the quickest I’ve ever been through passport control and customs.

Also, I am curious about you fellow commenters. If u feel like it... drop a reply with where u live l, what your job is, remote or not, how cautious u are, and what u wear on a regular basis. I’m jeans at work... shorts everywhere else.

Rory. Boise. Inspect gas Turbine power plants across N and South America. 100 travel. Below average cautious. Have a bachelors degree I earned online in the Military, but isn’t required for my job. Not particularly bright, but I do read a lot.

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I’m also curious about commenters! I find it comforting to read the thoughtful observations here, since I don’t seem to understand the world in its current state, or many of the people in it. I’m one of those privileged jerks who left NYC and have been in my home state of Michigan for family reasons since last summer. Grew up outside Detroit but am at vacation house in small town on Lake Michigan, couple of hours from Chicago. Have worked remotely most of the time but am on a leave of absence from my “real” job, where my colleagues are now back in the office (a public building in Manhattan). Still doing some freelance/volunteer work.

I’m vaccinated now and was fairly cautious up to that point. I hate getting sick so am always conscientious about washing my hands and I get a flu shot every year. But I’ve been frustrated by the ongoing hygiene theatre—closed bottle fillers, soaking chairs in hand sanitizer and so on. I have socialized with a small group of friends and family inside (no masks) and out since last summer. Plenty of outdoor dining since then, now with the shot am dining inside (still cold here!). Vaccines have been readily available here for a while, you can walk into a drugstore and get one. But half the people are still walking around this small town with masks on outside and ostentatiously crossing the street to avoid maskless me (I still wear one while grocery shopping etc but I wear glasses so it’s a hassle). The other half have never worn masks and have packed into bars since they have reopened. I think many of the people in this group won’t get vaccinated and that’s why MI has been hotspot champion of 2021.

Have been wearing jeans/hiking pants throughout, similar to my (unfashionable) pre-covid wardrobe. Am occasionally applying pre-covid (low) levels of makeup now after months of skipping it.

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That sounds pretty nice. I’d love to see your lake view. Yeah. The people who wear masks are the ones who have been vaccinated. The ones who don’t have already had it. It’s all theater at this point. I’m the same with masks. After vaccination... I will only wear it if I have to.

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Not rich enough for lake view, but we can see slivers of it through leafless trees in the winter! Lucky to be close enough to hear the crashing waves though— the best sound...

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The entire discourse around Covid has been dominated by a small minority of Americans on either side of the political spectrum (but predominately on the left).

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I think NYers masked walking their dogs alone believe they are helping the city recover. I know a handful who are still legitimately afraid of interacting unmasked outdoors, but many many more who think this is the way to make everyone feel comfortable again.

Of course at some point you have to signal a return to normal by ... actually returning to normal.

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We live in Central NY and never wore masks outside. It’s been a big adjustment to visit cities like NYC, Boston, & Philadelphia.

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If that's normal, then what was it like before? Did they not walk their dog at all and just toss balled-up poop newpapers into a garbage dumpster?

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Haha no I mean these folks masked up walking around alone have good intentions but I think we’re at the point where they would do more good by modeling ‘bravery’ and taking the mask off when outdoors.

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Philadelphia, municipal lawyer. I've personally been work from home since March 2020, though I've gone into the office occasionally and now am in the office once a week.

I was probably more cautious than I would have been otherwise because of the people in my pod/bubble. My girlfriend and I live together, and we formed a pod with her sister, her sister's fiance, and their toddler son (who all lived together in another apartment). My girlfriend worked social services in-person at a nursing home (part of her job was bringing around a laptop to residents so they could Skype their relatives, to give you an idea), and her sister's fiance travels for work (he's a welding foreman on construction sites across the country). Given this exposure at both ends, I agreed to be extra-cautious, both to protect the residents at the nursing home and to protect my girlfriend's sister and nephew. I was particularly worried that my girlfriend's sister would get sick, since that would make childcare very difficult for the kid, what with his dad being at least halfway across the country most of the time. (For her part, my girlfriend's sister was also super-cautious and rarely left her apartment, for the same reason.)

As a result, I didn't even dine outdoors or do much in-person socializing until after my girlfriend quit (after getting fully vaxxed) in January. (She took a WFH customer-service job with a utility company.) We made an exception around Labor Day when we visited our families in the Midwest (my family in suburban Detroit, hers in Chicago), and even then we took a lot of precautions (we didn't dine out, we only ate outside whenever we had a meal with extended family/family friends, and we drove rather than flying). We did go unmasked indoors with our immediate families, but we figured the risks were low (we had all been tested recently).

Since I've been vaccinated, I've been more relaxed about eating out and hanging out indoors with people who have also been vaccinated. I still wear a mask outside sometimes, but that's more because I've found the KN95s I have are great for my allergies and this spring has been especially rough on that front. (Also, living in the city, you never know when you might want to pop into a store when you're out and about, and I honestly prefer to just put on my mask once at home and throw it away when I get back, as I find putting the mask on and taking it off more of an annoyance than actually wearing it.)

One thing the pandemic didn't affect is my wardrobe, but then I'm the kind of guy who wears button-downs and khakis all the time. Once Zoom court started up in Philadelphia over the summer, my suits started getting regular use, as well. While I would always wear the pants, I will admit to "appearing" in court wearing my house slippers.

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Hey Kareem. I disagree with you about masks. Probably because I have a beard and I feel like it just traps moisture.

I’ve read about these pods. I guess given our lifestyle, and living in Boise it’s just not something like that was done.

It is pretty smart, especially if you had kids.

I bet you look sharp though in the button downs. I can’t even remember the last time I tucked in my shirt.

I won’t tell the judge about your slippers.

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Literally laughed out loud at that one.

As it happens I also have a beard, but close-cropped (about as short as MY's actually if not shorter), so it doesn’t cause mask problems. And they really have helped with my allergies. My girlfriend and I took a 30-minute walk to the store (it was a nice day and we took the scenic route lol); we wore masks and I didn’t sneeze once. After we got home and dropped off the stuff, we walked unmasked to where she had parked her car (about 2 minutes) and I was sneezing the whole time.

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US govt employee working in Italy here. I'd say about 75% of my workdays since last march have been remote. I've been maybe a little less cautious than Matt -- my actions have been based on what I know about how aerosol transmission works and what the infection levels have been around me. My goal was to never catch covid, not merely survive it if I caught it. But I still traveled, a few airplane trips (personal and work), lots of train and car trips, lots of hotel stays. Overall I've been frustrated by the Europe's approach since last fall. Too much Covid Theater, not enough evidence-based interventions.

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I agree. Like TSA. Aviano? The Army base (forget name) Rome? I spent some time in Italy with the USAF.

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Yeah I'm in Vicenza. One my work trips was out of Aviano since a lot of commercial air traffic has been shut down. Not a fan of C130s though

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Ha. Spent a lot of time flying in them. I spent maybe 6-months in Aviano in the 90s. During the Yugoslavia thing. Loved it.

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Lol, me too, but I was in the Navy then.

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Hey Rory -- I'm Matt's age. We live outside Chicago. One young daughter. I'd say we were very cautious those first 2ish months then after the protests we really opened up to anything outdoors. We essentially turned our pool into a community center. I'd guess we probably hosted families 50x over the rest of the summer. We had a great time.

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Also, my wife was laid off getting that that unemployment check and my work slow down for about two months last spring. It was awesome hanging out together. Of course, we still went out and did things. We weren’t exactly the strictest.

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Good on you. I was probably the same way. I bet your daughter loved having everyone over. I’ve always wanted a pool.

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>>People walking their dogs, no one around wearing masks.

I see we crossed paths! I was walking the dog at 5am today before work, nobody around at all. I'm young-ish, in good health, and fully vaccinated. I still put on the mask. It's a habit at this point. I don't even think about it, like putting on your shoes.

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I mean obviously everyone should have the right to wear a mask if they want. I guess at what point is it more of a fashion or social statement. Sort of like a tie.

I can’t stand wearing masks. Irritate my face. I won’t wear one anymore unless I have to. Also fully vaccinated. It just seems very foreign to voluntarily wear one when there’s no reason. And it’s like when I work in Saudi Arabia, and I see the veiled women. I respect everyone’s right and culture, but can’t help feeling sorry for them.

My mother has told me she intends to wear a mask regularly for the rest of her life.

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I’ll probably always wear it on transit. It’s not just germs, those underground stations are extensively polluted!

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I’m in Ohio. I’m a manager of an engineering team. I’ve been working from home for most of the pandemic but was going into the office (which is a manufacturing facility, but I don’t really need to be there, it’s just where my office is) every now and then, up until I got my second shot. Now I’m back to going in every day unless something comes up (like I’m too lazy to wash my hair). I’d say I’m quite cautious. “Risk-averse” like a good engineer. Never had stitches or went to the hospital as a kid. But I also thought people lost their minds as COVID wore on, and I was always comfortable outside without a mask or going quickly into a store with one. I just felt like I could work just as well from home and didn’t think it was worth any additional risk to go in to the office. I am a weirdo and wore jeans every day... Never did get the whole leggings thing. Someone will take away my millennial card. Now that I’m back to the office, I’m back to business casual most days, though a little more casual than before... I might wear jeans and sneakers and not care what anyone thinks. But then again that could just be pandemic ennui/cynicism calcifying.

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52, retired military/intelligence analyst. Live in Colorado. Currently working in the wireless/mobile internet industry. I've been working remotely for several years, so Covid wasn't a big change for me. I think I've been reasonably cautious and adhering to the social norms of my area. For clothing, I'm all about comfort and casual. I'm also a bit of a minimalist, so I tend to wear the same thing every day - an unadorned t-shirt (usually green), plus comfortable khaki-style pants or shorts. Usually barefoot or in sandals.

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Our careers overlapped. Now retired from the Air Force in 2011. At one point, I thought I wanted to the military intelligence, but then realized a big part of it was just writing power point slides for briefings. My best friends daughter at my job though is one of those translator cryptic intercept at Fort Meade types. Apparently they’re so backed up on clearances, sheep to be able to work until 2-years after joining.

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The main take-away from this just mainly seems to be 'we need more working-class-focused media outlets'. I seem to recall that was discussed on the Weeds episode with Faiz Shakir, and that he was starting one. That seems good, and hopefully it (and/or others like it) are successful and force a little more 'real people problems' content from the prestige outlets.

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I agree; this seems like just another example of echo chambers at work. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that The Atlantic and The Cut are not a big part of the working-class media diet (and that's OK!) and that they are not really trying to be (that's OK too!).

But what I do think that echo chamber affects is liberals’ conception of the pandemic which makes them more likely to moralize about safe activities and more difficult to change their behavior once the definition of safe activities expands, and I very much include myself here.

What that does in turn is that it affects policy positions on things like school re-openings, which inevitably become just another polarizing item which we use to show off our tribal bona fides.

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I agree with the echo chamber points but I mean there is also the question of accuracy.

I live in a bubble of my own, write for a niche audience, have more than my fair share of biases, etc. But I can also just look up facts. I know most people are poorer than the average American, that the average American lives in the suburbs, that I’m a bit younger than the average American, etc.

The unwillingness to like stop for a minute and check the facts had been driving me bananas

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I don’t disagree, and the lack of accuracy in the press (in places like NYT, FT and CNN) around the pandemic in general has been infuriating. My beef has mostly been with downright ignorance of basic statistics/probabilities, which has led to some absolutely absurd headlines and stories that I think signifcantly, though unintentionally, misled the public.

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I think a lot of pro journalists don't really enjoy journalism and only do it when they have to. Instead what they enjoy is *writing*, which is different.

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You're probably right, but there's a certain level of laziness involved in not getting facts right that is kind of shocking - I think that's the point MY was making as well.

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Strictly speaking there are no incorrect facts in that CNN article. It's just written in such a way that discussing those facts is not necessary: more like fact avoidance than factual error. What I'm basically getting at is that oftentimes the annoying articles you have in mind aren't *bad* journalism per se, so much as *non* journalism (or perhaps less journalistic journalism).

There are of course other articles out there that explain probability poorly, and that is bad journalism. But that's a different phenomenon from what I think is being highlighted in today's post.

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This would be more compelling if the hook weren't the Amanda Mull Atlantic article which falls into the classic category of "stuff about people like myself." People like reading that kind of thing. And you can bet that the majority of the article's readers are quite aware that their situation does not characterize that of all Americans (or the global population). There's a reason that people preface their comments with "I know this is a First World problem" and then go on to describe their First World problems.

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Slapping down the style section for writing another trend piece that isn't applicable to lots of people would make one bananas, but it is also just very superfluous.

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I do wish that there were more stories, in policy reporting but also in styles sections that started from some grounding in what is average in the area they are reporting from/about. What does an average household in Missouri / Iowa or even DC look like? What are they worried about? What do they do for fun? I can give some kind of answer for most of the cities I've lived in, but am genuinely interested in the local texture from places I haven't lived.

I'm sure there are other good examples, but I enjoy the Marketplace personal economy and representative worker sections as ways of reporting in miniature the range of typical work experiences across the country.

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Well, don't let it drive you bananas, dude, it's not like the situation above hasn't always been the case. You have your respectable types conveying the wisdom of whichever chosen expert they agree with, and you have your pretend down-home types who are channeling the 'working class' (which in reality is the petit bourgeoisie like 'Joe the plumber') and so on and so forth. Nobody wants to talk to the working class except as interesting insects, and damn sure nobody is going to let facts get in the way of a good take.

There was that Caitlin Flanagan (yes, actually!) take from March: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/private-schools-are-indefensible/618078/

which gives us this paragraph:

"One day I gave him an A– on a creative-writing assignment. Soon after, the mom called, and she was pissed. I explained that this grade wouldn’t lower his average, but she didn’t care. She wanted to come to the school with her husband and meet with me. I assumed that I wouldn’t have to agree to such a preposterous request but it turned out that I did. For 45 horrible minutes I sat in a borrowed office with the father (clearly mortified) and the mother (rageful) discussing the merits of this 10th grader’s poem, each of us locked into the same kind of intractable positions (they wanted me to change the grade; I wanted them to drop dead) that led to the fall of Saigon. They were coming in with force, and I wouldn’t budge."

The American upper class is kind of fucked in the head, and your elite journos are invariably going to get sucked into that particular singularity, and social gravity explains the rest. Hard to take into account actually existing Americans from that position, zoom or no zoom.

(Yes, I know I am dropping heavy artillery fire all around your position, but I think I've avoided a friendly fire incident.)

elm

they're smart enough to be world-class athletes in the dedicated stupidity olympics

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What do you feel your blue collar percentage is? I’d count myself in that group, but it is one that is certainly in the minority.

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Media have a similar problem to politicians when it comes to being working class. Once you are in media or elected office, you are often, almost by definition, not working class anymore.

Professional staff at unions can have same problem there.

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I don't think any working class people can/would pursue journalism as a career. I looked at it in the 90s, when I was in high school. Lots of unpaid internships followed by low salaries at the outset. Things are obviously worse today in terms of steady, decent income. Hard to imagine someone launching a journalism career without mom & dad kicking in a few bucks here and there. Plus: what a repellent culture. Thanks, Twitter!

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Why do we need "working class focused media outlets" when we're discussing this on Substack?

In a world where blogging has been around for decades, where we've seen successive waves of Blogspot, Medium, and Substack, where random people are giving financial advice to millions on Tiktok....

Where does there seem to be a vast, gaping void of writers targeting this niche that's not actually a niche?

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Substack is super bougie though. I’m reasonably well off and I’m not going to spend $1k to read a handful of writers. Many people can’t even afford newspaper subscriptions.

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Faiz Shakir is the last person who should be starting something like that.

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It would be interesting for you to do a demographic survey of your subscribers. I for one would like to see that information. As an aged boomer I suspect I'm an outlier.

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Would a survey like that produce accurate results?

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64, multi millionaire

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Also a college degree. Arts orientation. Likely high openness.

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It would produce engagement, clicks, and bonding among your readers, and it would solidify your brand.

You wanted it to produce reliable factual data that would get us closer to the truth?

You still don't get the media business, do you?

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Age, educational attainment and geography at the very least would be interesting

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definitely gender...

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weight

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Just call me out directly.

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230lbs if my wife is in a bad mood. Otherwise slimmer.

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39, some college and PNW. Outlier!

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46, BA, close to Nashville but have lived in 7 states and still travel a lot. Currently haunting our nation's manufacturing facilities. Oh: male, 6'1" ", 190. The extra weight is not muscle, unfortunately.

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Social security number?

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Mid-50s, overeducated (BA, MA, JD), primary NYC and secondarily rust belt (MI).

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What does "secondarily" mean?

(32, not quite as overeducated (BA, JD), currently Philly, formerly MI, with an educational interlude in NJ)

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Vacation house down the street from my sister

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Does Substack know? For business reasons I bet you would love to know the demographics of your Twitter followers and weeds listeners and slow boring readers.

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And 41 advanced degree.

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Geographic question would be as useful as any other.

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Scott Alexander does one annually - ask him if he's done an assessment of survey accuracy.

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I think people would be honest.

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It would among the commentators.

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commentators are probably more male and less likely to care about curating a professional reputation than the median subscriber. That being said, I love the comments section. The $8 barrier to entry has created much better discussion than what I typically find on FB. I’ve tried hard to curate good discussions on FB and this is better

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I had to give up FB around the election, couldn’t take it anymore. I think the social media hole in my life contributed to me deciding this was as valuable as Hulu.

Oh and I like y’all.

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100% I learn a lot. Rare to see threads devolve into bad faith pettiness. I wouldn’t even try on Facebook.

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For sure, I’m on Twitter and the SB comments are infinitely better. Way more good faith arguments. The $8 entry barrier combined with the niche content of SB posts mean that the only people commenting are legitimately interested and insightful, unlike Twitter which is just a dunk fest.

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Am not on FB but am here for the same reason!

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I don’t think so. Actually I would be surprised if there’s anyone younger than 26 to 30 who reads this blog. I suspected the median age is 50.

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I agree with this. My guess is that the median age is right around Matt's own.

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I am almost certain I am the youngest reader at 14.

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probably 4 kid probably bought subscription on mommys ipad

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Please delete this.

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Nice. You're on a good path, imho. This is one of the smartest comment sections on the internet. Not including my posts, of course.

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Thank you. The vast majority of the political debates are insubstantial cheap talking points. Slow Boring niche audience allows it to frequently cut through to detailed good faith discussions.

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I'm younger than that but I'm a weirdo who spends too much disposable income on reading subscriptions

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What’s up with all you whipper snappers on here! At least u aren’t playing video games. Good to have some added perspective though.

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Hi! I'm 23.

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When I was 23, I was stationed in Holland, spending all my time drinking beer and chasing women. You are definitely ahead of me in learning.

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I'm 26!

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But not younger than 26!

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As an aged, FEMALE boomer, I really think I'm in the minority.

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69 here

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nice

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nice

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Of course, graduated in 69 as well.

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39 northeast ohio but i'm only pretending to be american, i lived in asia for 14 years and holy fuck is the USA even more disorienting to live in than observe from afar. BA & MA.

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Yeah, 45 year old software developer and most of my friends have been working from home, so I feel Matt's pain of having a skewed perspective on the world.

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Or not. I am a boomer myself. And Matthew often exhibits signs of being preternaturally boomeresque. He knows stuff.

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He seems kind of young fogeyish, which as a former young fogey I appreciate,

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Thanks for this, Matt.

Reading many of those stories over the past year-plus about staying home and lockdown anxiety and whatnot has been a very bizarre experience for those of us who are entirely too online and read a lot of mainstream, left-leaning folks, but who also have our feet firmly planted in environments where people were very cautious but not huddled together in their homes.

Like a lot of people, my wife and I both had to continue working, and also like a lot of people, we initially went to level 10 on COVID precautions before scaling back and doing things that felt safe and okay, like playgrounds, or outdoor birthday parties. I have friends who live in Sonoma County who don't take their kid out to the playground and are talking about keeping them home from school for all of next year to be safe, and to be honest, that's nuts to me.

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I was in The Villages, Florida this past week visiting my racist dad. Fascinating place. All old people. No masks anywhere, indoors or out, except for staff members. No capacity reduction or anything. All I kept thinking was “how are more of these people not dead?” I do not have a good answer to that question. Dad assured me it’s because COVID is fake and just a scam to let communists take over the government. I’m not so sure about that, but the pandemic heterogeneity there is certainly very interesting.

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I think the vaccine uptake rate among older people has been high across the board

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The community (CCRC in north Jersey) where my parents live has had 90% uptake. Down to zero to one cases the last several weeks.

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To be fair, 100% of the people you see there walking around are going to be alive. The dead ones have made other arrangements.

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Sampling biases all the way down!

But yeah, that’s why I thought it seemed odd. It does look like they had a relatively large spike in cases over Dec-Jan.

I think I also have to adjust for a community of ~130k people that is already somewhat geographically isolated. It goes back to people (me!) being bad at estimating risks and such.

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Survivorship bias, for reals!

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Your note on the high vaccination rate explains a lot, but count me among people surprised that the overall COVID situation in FL isn't worse. The combination of young people, very old people, and not a lot of concern seemed like it would add up to a perfect storm. I try to treat it as a reminder that all of my decisions in the last year have been made under very incomplete information.

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Here is the thing. If it’s all old people... and they are the front lines of risk... why wouldn’t u take his word? Theoretically Omar mask marinas meant to print checked the older more vulnerable people. But if your dad is the older vulnerable people, and he’s not worried… why are you? Also it sucks that he’s racist, that’s got to be frustrating.

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It’s not worried so much as fascinated. This age group should be the most vulnerable yet take no precautions and don’t appear to be dropping dead from Covid. That’s not the case everywhere, so what’s the difference in the Villages? Retirement communities and old folks homes in other places have been badly hit.

A few hypotheses:

-They’re all vaccinated (unlikely given how much hesitancy there is in this right-wing bastion)

-Most social activity is outdoors (this seems likely, though dining is indoors)

-They’re otherwise healthy (seems possible given how active the population appeared to be, but I have no idea about their overall health)

-or, as dad explained, Covid is a lie (among other things)

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Looks like it's the first one.

60% of the county and 83.4% of the over 65 population there have been vaccinated.

Updating my priors about right-wing vaccine resistance, at least among vulnerable populations.

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

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It’s only a vocal minority if right wingers who don’t get vaccinated at that age. People are actually pretty good at evaluating risk. If young, conservative, already had Covid, then getting can u blame them for hesitation? I’m 50, travel, so my risks are higher, thus vaccinated.

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I think part of my problem is that my entire extended family is in that vocal minority so those perspectives are over represented to me.

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Mine is the opposite. Family either liberal or completely neutral. My work and friends are mostly the vocal minority. But I have a very blue collar job.

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I wonder if it's "hesitation." I'm not even sure what that means. Do people who worry about the vaccine's safety really believe that, especially claiming it hasn't been "tested enough"? I mean, worldwide there have been 1.3 billion (note the "b") shots given so if this were the entry to the Walking Dead, we'd probably know it by now.

I think it's less hesitancy than inertia. There are non-urgent medical things I need to do that if I leave them too long may come back to bite me but, well, I'll do them tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

If you see cases going down and you're generally (young and) healthy, you just don't feel any urgency.

Of course, there are people who are against the vaccine based on some kind of Fox-induced principle, but I'm not talking about them.

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I do wonder how many people who are vocal about being anti-vax then quietly get the shot. People have an amazing ability to handle cognitive dissonance.

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I went to a covid tracker map and Sumter County, Fl looks about the same as anywhere else: 1/14 population with a case and 1/475 dead. That's essentially average for the country. But I guess I would also assume it should be higher if it's mostly "old" people.

I can come up with 2 theories:

- The first is related to yours - are they otherwise very healthy? Mostly ex-white collar workers with the means and motivation to move to an exclusive outdoors-focused retirement area? That's some pretty heavy self-selection for protection from early deaths from any cause.

- How old are they really? There's a big different between 65-75 and 85-95. Covid risk is elevated for people in their 60s, but most people don't die in their 60s. Most deaths from covid, like most deaths in general, happen to people in their 80s. And that's doubly true for white collar workers. So if the Villages don't have the 80+ crowd for some reason, than maybe their death rate makes sense.

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The amount of true anti-vaxxers is pretty low. What is a lot higher are people who are pretty "meh" about it. Lacking either the time, or motivation to get vaxed.

But if you are retired, you have more time (because retired) and more motivation (because its deadlier for old people) to get the vax.

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Thanks for being the kind of person who assumes most people have some common sense. It is what draws me to your work.

"obliged to try to describe reality accurately" - I am really grateful for that, too, and the tinge of irritation it seemed to carry.

Re "zoom fatigue" - that may actually be more widespread, if you include parents' experience of their children's online classes.

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Yes. I think if you count anyone having to deal with online courses, Zoom Fatigue is much more widespread than white-collar work.

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So when I'm at work my other coworkers and myself always sit without our masks in the break room. This is in spite of us working directly with COVID patients sometimes (we are nurses on a non COVID unit). The point being that working while wearing masks for over 12 hours is very uncomfortable and a maskless break is a nice thing to have in spite of the inherent risk.

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Nothing against Amanda Mull in particular, but prestige magazines like The Atlantic could really use some diversity. Mull is *somewhat* differentiated because at least she's from the south, but like everyone else at these publications, she grew up rich and now lives in Brooklyn. Having more people from working class backgrounds would make it harder to miss these obvious blindspots.

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I think it’s interesting that Meredith Corp, an obscure but huge and financially successful magazine publisher (it does women’s stuff, not news), is run out of Des Moines, IA and culture shocked a bunch of the New Yorkers it took over when it bought Time

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Totally agreed. Very frequently I read articles detailing some experience that comes off as out-of-touch and nothing like the day-to-day lives of me or the people I know, and it's not like I'm living impoverished in a rural area. Like, I have a liberal arts degree, I live within 45 minutes of Chicago, I make a fair amount more than the median income, and even with all that, the experiences are well outside most of my social circle.

And that's just the writers, don't even get me started on podcasters.

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My favorite example of this are columns/tweets/etc. about how flying and airports are terrible. Before the pandemic, the median American takes zero flights in a year. Of those who do fly, the median number of flights is one. If you are at an airport, chances are you're a really privileged person doing something that most don't get a chance to!

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A thing that astounded me last year: we're shaming people for going to the beach, yet thousands of people are flying.

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Agreed. The problem is that the job market for journalists is so terrible that (for the most part) the only people who can get enough experience to be even considered for a job at a place like The Atlantic are either wealthy or graduated from very elite colleges.

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Both excerpts were ridiculous, but it's particularly stupid to insist that there were only two experiences available during 2020, and that only the luckiest Americans got to experience "soul crushing loneliness". She needs to expand her circle a bit because there are lots of people who had a much better 2020 than these "luckiest Americans".

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I've gotten a lot of traction out of the term "self-traumatized" lately.

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I literally just made this reply to someone else. I don’t think there’s anything lucky about people locking themselves away for a year.

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I don't need long lectures at the top of every article in the business or style or sports sections detailing how this depiction of real life doesn't actually represent the median experience, thanks very much. This is just a boring take.

"Here's what $900K Buys You In These Cities* *Disclaimer: most folks don't have any money"

"Here's what LeBron James did this weekend* *Disclaimer: average folks are lousy at basketball"

"Look how Google is redesigning their office space* *Disclaimer: Google employs fewer than 50% of the American workforce"

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I think it depends if the story is framed as "look at this exceptional person/company" or if it's framed as an ordinary experience. If it's the ordinary experience of the writer and the intended readers, but is exceptional in a broader sense, then that's when it's most important to say that in the story.

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I work from home but my wife is a doctor... most of her colleagues at the hospital are not very interested in the COVID culture war stuff that drove clicks throughout the whole thing. COVID didn't really seem like the main topic of concern for most doctors and nurses after ~ July/August.

And once they got vaccinated in Dec./Jan. there was very little handwringing like you see in the press about "easing back" in to things, people started going out to lunch together and planning trips immediately. So perhaps covering people who were actually putting on pants wouldn't have resulted in the appropriate twitter flame wars.

Anecdotally I have heard a lot more "WE'RE IN A GLOBAL PANDEMIC" from my own work from home team than from any doctors and nurses, but maybe that is just a "stiff upper lip" sort of thing. Again, might not make super interesting stories though.

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