Hope you’re enjoying your Thursday, loyal readers, and thank you for opening up this week’s edition of The Highlighter. Today I’ve included articles, interviews, and podcast episodes on digital minimalism, abortion, the science of intelligence, and the role of anger in our lives. Read one — or all four! — and tell me what you think. Or text a friend and say you want to chat.
+ Good news: The Highlighter is making its way into schools! Yesterday, students in loyal reader Maria’s classroom read and discussed “79,” one of my favorite articles from last year, and next week, students in loyal reader Marni’s classroom will read and discuss “Faith, Friendship, and Tragedy,” one of my favorite articles so far this year. Great work, Maria and Marni! If you’re a teacher interested in using The Highlighter in your classroom, let me know.
Enough is enough, you say. It’s time to practice digital minimalism, once and for all. That’s why you’ve quit Facebook and Twitter — but not Instagram. (The photos are so alluring!) You’ve taken the bold step to leave your phone outside your bedroom. (But you’re sleepwalking in the middle of the night to check it.) And you’re no longer opening your email after 8 pm (except to read The Highlighter, of course). If this is you, good job: Tristan Harris, creator of the Time Well Spent movement, who is on a mission to “reverse human downgrading,” is very proud of you. Not only will you have more time to spend with your friends and family, but you’ll also have the language to stop technology from destroying free will and wrecking democracy. (12 min)
Thirty-one weeks into her pregnancy, Elizabeth (not her real name) found out that the baby she was carrying would not survive birth. The following week, Elizabeth flew from New York to Colorado to receive a shot that would begin the abortion process. Soon afterward, back in New York, she completed the delivery. In this interview with Jia Tolentino, Elizabeth tells her story. (36 min)
Published 25 years ago, The Bell Curve is popular again (see Jordan Peterson). The book argues that intelligence is genetic and that white people, on average, are smarter than Black people. This article explains how white liberal educators in the 1990s unwittingly solidified this viewpoint by countering that poverty early in childhood accounts for intractable differences in IQ. Either way — whether nature or nurture — the underlying premise relies on a fixed mindset of the mental capacity of young people of color. In short: Maybe “science” isn’t always our friend. (26 min)
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who writes about school segregation for The New York Times, is my favorite education reporter. Especially if you’re a newer subscriber of this newsletter, I encourage you to get to know Ms. Hannah-Jones by listening to this intimate interview with Al Letson. She discusses her childhood, how she found her passion, and the role of anger in her work. (32 min)
+ If you haven’t read this piece by NHJ, please do.
+ Reader Annotations: Many readers responded with their thoughts about last week’s article on “masculine chaos.” Here’s what loyal reader Molly shared:
I’d never heard of Jordan Peterson before this. Great article. Loved this line: “This privilege of being taken seriously even when wrong is the meta-privilege of our time.” I love The Highlighter!
In addition, comments keep streaming in about “Faith, Friendship, and Tragedy,” my favorite article so far this year. Loyal reader Melissa had this to say:
What a haunting, tragic story. Two teenagers who live seemingly different lives, find friendship and connection, only to be destroyed by American-made violence. Such a heartbreaking story.
I couldn’t have said it any better, Melissa! Thank you and Molly for writing in your thoughts. To the rest of you, don’t be shy! I’d love to hear from you. All you need to do is hit reply.
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