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NOvember: Saying No To Social Media

Culture

Maybe it will change your life, maybe it won’t

"No" is, perhaps, one of the hardest words to say with conviction. It is one of the most important words to familiarize ourselves with as it can maintain a sense of order in our lives and reveal to us our limits. This month, a handful of NYLON staffers are practicing saying "no" to certain aspects of their lives—be it social media, carbs, coffee, or Coca-Cola—to see how much control they have and what benefit (if any) saying "no" had for them. We're calling it NOvember, because, well, duh.

There is maybe no more boring subject to write about than abstinence. It doesn't matter what you're talking about not doing—eating, drinking, fucking, social media-ing—the reality is that there is an intrinsic self-righteousness involved in these acts, an inherent—sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle—smugness that accompanies every "no." There's also a weird level of contradiction ingrained within the whole endeavor, what with the very act of abstaining from something hinging on the strictest of discipline, which is used, often and strangely enough, to feel more free? And then, of course, there's just the foundational nothingness that accompanies writing about doing, well, nothing. As I already said: Boring!

And yet all of this is really to say, on October 29, I gave up social media. I know, I know. Boring! Not only boring but also, like, unoriginal? People give up social media all the time. There's Andrew Sullivan's TL:DR thing from New York magazine a few weeks ago (I honestly don't know how it ends, but I'm sure it's with a good deal of self-satisfaction), there was that teenage social media star who quit in a big way a year ago, and if you Google "quitting social media," you'll get a whole slew of blog posts that follow the TK Things I Learned When I Quit Social Media pattern. There was even something predictably smart and the actual opposite of self-serious today on the Awl about it. It's everywhere.

But while plenty of people quit social media because of valid reasons, like bullying or because they fear that it might actually be taking over their lives, so addictive is its allure, I quit for a much more prosaic reason: stunt journalism. No, I'm kidding. I actually did it for the still very mundane reason of not being able to withstand the constant bombardment of Election 2016 news that was taking over my Twitter feed. Which, first, a word about my pre-quitting-social-media social media habits—they weren't exactly what you'd call a problem. For example, I didn't have the Facebook app on my phone and only used Snapchat to send one or two photos a day to my friend with whom I share a very, very long Snap-streak. Neither of the two platforms presents much of a problem for me. Frankly, FB is a purely benign influence in my life because of how little I use it, and if anyone ever tried to convince me that preserving a Snap-streak is a sign of a problem, I would look at them like they were crazy. Because they would be.

But no, my real social media black holes were all thanks to Instagram and Twitter, two platforms which I use differently (one, Instagram, is purely social and all about scrolling through pretty pictures of my friends and what they're doing, while Twitter is more professionally related for me, and about promoting my work and engaging with other writers and their work), but both of which I felt like I was using not only too much but also too mindlessly. It had become a subconscious tic for me, to find those two apps on my phone's screen and just scroll them image after image or pithy observation after pithy observation, pretty much whenever I had a spare moment. And I do mean whenever—my phone often rested under my pillow while I slept, not only so I could hear my alarm in the morning, but also so I could, you know, check what was going on in the world in the morning before I had even lifted my head. And, yes. Yes, I did bring my phone with me into the bathroom all the time and lose myself for minutes on the toilet, long after I had finished peeing. 

I wanted to stop doing these things. I wanted to not anxiously wait on my morning commute for the subway stations which have wi-fi so that I could refresh my Instagram. I wanted to stop using Twitter-being-good-for-work as an excuse to procrastinate from doing my actual work. I wanted to be present when I was watching a TV show, rather than scrolling through tweets and seeing what other people were joking about. I wanted to be present, period. Including when I went to pee. But also, as I said above, I wanted to be able to step away from this garbage election taking place in this garbage year. I wanted to stop feeling my chest tighten up whenever some bullshit "revelation" about Hillary Clinton's emails hit the Twittersphere. (Spoiler: The only thing those "revelations" revealed is that FBI director James Comey is just as garbage as this terrible year is.) I couldn't take it anymore. So the first thing I did on a Saturday morning nine days ago was delete Twitter and Instagram from my phone. And I haven't really looked back.

I could tell you about the ways in which giving up social media changed my life. And they do exist! Like, I don't bring my phone with me to the bathroom anymore. (At least, not at home. Sometimes I do it at work because the lighting in there is really good, and so it's a terrific opportunity to keep up my Snap-streak.) And so I spend much less time on the toilet! And I don't really look at my phone in the morning, other than when I think, Oh, shit, how did I just hit snooze 13 times? But on days when I don't need an alarm? I don't even sleep with my phone in the same room as me. My stress levels about the election haven't exactly gone down (they will remain high until Trump is vanquished from the public sphere and we never need to see his bloated, orange visage again), but they have remained manageable, something that I'm not so sure would have been the case without this social media break. Admittedly, I have been on Twitter and Facebook sporadically in the last nine days, but it's only been during work hours and only resulted in very minimal engagement levels. 

But would I say that I'm better off? I don't really know? I certainly notice more when other people are on social media around me in places where once I would have used social media, and now I just stare at them while they use it. I've tried to think about whether or not this makes me a jerk, but I don't feel self-righteous about the fact that I'm not looking at my phone, rather, I just feel grateful that I'm not the one doing it anymore, that I have been able to successfully step back, if only a little bit, from the ways in which social media had entered parts of my life that I actually want to have free from it. The thing is, it doesn't even matter if I never felt like I was truly dependent on social media; I was still using it in a way that had a deleterious effect on my specific life (must I repeat just how much time I was spending sitting on the toilet??). And now... I'm not. And the ease with which I stopped doing so is a positive sign that I won't return to using social media in a damaging-for-me way in the future. Because, you know, I might reinstall Instagram on my phone. I miss seeing photos of sunsets and my boyfriend's sister-in-law's kids as much as the next person. And Twitter is a good place for me to curate my news, so maybe I'll go back to that too. Communicating via social media is, after all, a form of progress, and denying that progress exists, even if you are careful about how you participate in it, is kind of silly.

The point is, of course, that abstinence can be good and fine and even (maybe sometimes but probably not) interesting for a little while, but too much of anything—and that includes nothing—is not a great goal to have. So, yeah, I am going to wait at least until after the election is over to reinstall Twitter on my phone, but my "no" to social media has definitely transformed into more of a "meh." Too bad "Meh-vember" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes www.youtube.com

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Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus www.youtube.com

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video] youtu.be

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Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.


Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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