And election. And holiday season.

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99 Club

This summer was a welcome respite from the long months indoors closed off from so many faces that I love.

It was deeply gratifying to have friends over for outdoor dinners and drinks on the porch. Even if at separate tables with some feet between us, I could feel the warmth of companionship right down to my toes.

Sexual Citizens, by the quotes I loved most

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Image Belongs to the Authors

Full Twitter thread here.

I’ve been chipping away at (and complimenting) @JenniferSHirsch and @shamuskhan’s book Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus for a while and I finally finished it.

In publishing, use of hyperbolic words like “landmark” and “groundbreaking” are exceedingly common, but in this case they are simple statements of fact.

I hope this book changes everything.

Both the results of a stunning qualitative assessment of students’ experiences/understandings of their intimate lives AND a synthesis of the underlying sociological and psychological factors at play, it is also an enthralling read. …

Slip into a different one.

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99 club

I have a problem with reality these days.

Not the terribleness of being immersed in this particular timeline, though there is that too.

No, my problem is more staying in this reality for any length of time.

My scholarly expertise lies at the intersection of the psychology of how people regulate their emotions and the application of this knowledge to teaching practices.

In these alarming times, I observe my colleagues sharing their expertise in an effort to extend help to anyone who might need it. My psychologist friends offer wisdom from their laboratories. …

“Sounds like this quack is hamster-wheeling her little pea brain in overdrive to justify her Tinder/Facebook/Twitter attention-whoring crimes against logic.”

“You may have a Ph.D. but you are obviously lacking skills in observation and common sense. This piece of garbage “smartphone” I type on now, and the “information” it continuously crams down the throats of all who use it, are what is destroying not only our youth but our society and humanity as a whole.”

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These are just two of the lovely comments I received on a piece I wrote for Psychology Today critiquing the idea that smartphones and social media unilaterally spell damage to our well-being. …

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The Question: What is this book actually about?

This week I published a book, one that I hope fulfilled my book manifesto.

The question I seem to get most often is — um, so what is it actually about?Delivered with a friendly smile but also a puzzled head-tilt.

Others seem to believe they’ve figured it out based on the title alone — that the book is principally focused on “mob mentality” or echo chambers or the dangers of ingroups — but that isn’t really what the book is about.

I cannot fault anyone for all of this confusion.

For one thing, the book has had multiple subtitles before settling into its current one, and you can still find mentions and images of the past ones scattered across the web — Thinking Alike in a Divided World was my personal favorite. The Perils and Promise of Our Collective Social Selves was probably the closest to its actual book’s topic. But still, none of these — nor its current subtitle — reflect the book’s focus on the impact of modern social technologies on human experience, which is both a huge focus of the book and the one that reviews so far have focused most of their attention on. …

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Ocean rumpusing at my tenure party.

I loathe small talk.

Meaningless chatter makes my teeth itch, my skin tighten and crawl.

Immediately after long bouts of it, I have to dive into something emotionally challenging or intimate, to try to wash off the sticky shallowness of superficial encounters.

“No child…has ever mastered the art of small talk, or would ever want to. It’s an adult device, a covenant with boredom and deceit.” — Ian McEwan

The only thing that makes me crankier than small talk is wasted time. Waiting for late people. Traffic. Meetings that could have been emails.

There is a common principle here, I think, and it is that our time on this planet is limited, and the limit draws closer by the day. Why would we want to spend our precious shared moments in encounters that lack substance, meaning, or purpose? …

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Flikr Creative Commons

The New York Times recently posted an op-ed about all of the things you could do with your life if you set aside your smartphone for a year.

I’m not setting aside my smartphone, and I don’t think you should.

Below are all the things you can do in a smartphone in a single day, never mind a year, sourced from the most recent day in my own life.

What You Can Do With Your Smartphone in a Day, Never Mind a Year

Listen to a texted audio of your three-year-old niece telling you she loves you, record and send one back. …

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Getty Images

In a sea of scaremongering thinkpieces, the recent article A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley by Nellie Bowles stands out for its evangelical hyperbole.

The piece is filled with quotes like, “I am convinced the devil lives inside our phones,” and “On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine,” and describes tech giants like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates banning social technology for their children.

Moral panics about technology are at least as old as the invention of writing. …

Motivation, Audience, and The Writer’s Practice

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I was recently asked to write a blurb for John Warner’s upcoming book The Writer’s Practice: Building Confidence in Your Nonfiction Writing, aimed at helping both new and seasoned writers hone their craft.

I was honored by John’s request, and also somewhat intrigued. I have never taught nor taken a formal course on composition, and anything I know about how to write is the result of blind intuition and several decades of reading an absolutely ridiculous amount of fiction.

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Adobe Stock Images

As the days get shorter and darker and the news cycle gets more brutal, you may be in search of a healthy dose of escapism. In solidarity I share with you my favorite reads of 2017.

Fever Dream
by Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell


Sarah Rose Cavanagh

Psychologist, professor, author of The Spark of Learning and Hivemind. Occasionally geeks out. Usually on Twitter @SaRoseCav.

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