“How America Outlawed Adolescence”
In 2014, while sitting in Algebra I at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, Niya Kenny uploaded a video to Snapchat of a sheriff pulling a fellow student from her chair and hurling her across the classroom after the girl refused to put away her cellphone. Kenny, who yelled at the teacher and sheriff as the incident was taking place, was arrested and taken to the police station for “disturbing school,” a mysterious offense that is routinely levied against about 1,200 South Carolina students annually. In the state, black students like Kenny are nearly four times as likely as their white peers to be charged with disturbing school. At least 22 states have disturbing school laws on the books, varying in their definition of the crime: whether it’s acting “in an obnoxious manner,” prohibiting “boisterous” behavior, or punishing students for “annoying conduct.” Amanda Ripley looks into the consequences of the laws for students and educators.
“The Binge Breaker”: “Never before in history have the decisions of a handful of designers (mostly men, white, living in SF, aged 25-35) working at 3 companies” —Google, Apple, and Facebook— “had so much impact on how millions of people around the world spend their attention… We should feel enormous responsibility to get this right.” This is the battle cry of Tristan Harris, the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience. By showering profits on companies that seize our focus, Harris says the attention economy has kicked of a “race to the bottom of the brainstem.” Bianca Bosker explores how Harris and his advocacy group Time Well Spent are exposing the war being waged for our time, while persuading the tech world to help us disengage more easily from its devices. Though he may be swimming upstream in the industry, Harris hopes to mobilize support for what he likens to an organic-food movement, but for software: an alternative built around core values, chief of which is for technology to help us spend our time well, instead of demanding more of it.
“The Doomsayer”: Of the various explanations that have been advanced to explain Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP, Avik Roy’s may be the most explosive. Rather than a conservative party that happens to incorporate cultural grievances, today’s GOP is, in his view, is a vehicle for the racial resentment, nationalism, and nostalgia of older white voters. The element of the party once dismissed as a fringe, now seems to form its core. In this month’s “Sketch” by Molly Ball, Roy discusses how his beloved GOP was capsized by racial resentment, and why Trump is the “logical end point” of the GOP’s long history of racialized politics
“Making Up is Hard to Do”: Gone are the days in which the country appeared united, or at the very least united in halves. The election is cleaving Americans like few in history; even people who recently seemed as though they were on the same team are at odds. As Conor Friedersdorf writes, “No matter who wins the election, or the next skirmish in culture wars, most Americans must live together, and will love together, within these borders, with people whose actions or views are anathema to them. How, then, can we get along?” Friedersdorf later continues: “Even if America is unlikely to descend into another civil war, our present trajectory carries huge risks… the good news is that counteracting polarization is not a lost cause, if only Americans are circumspect enough to recognize what we have in common… better to cooperate with those you believe to be misguided than to risk mutual destruction.”