Gentle suggestions

This is not an advice column

Let’s take a few questions today.

Best gift for a bestie that is under $40? (not a playlist or homemade!)

I struggle to make a gift recommendation without knowing more about this person. The best gifts are the ones that make that your people feel seen. Can you recall something your friend has mentioned needing recently, something they need to replace or something they’ve complained about lacking? I like giving fancy items but I’ve also given friends some really unsexy stuff like trashcans and toothbrushes. In my experience, anything that’s a result of careful listening and observation usually goes over pretty well.

That said, I feel like you can never go wrong with a luxe body oil or a nice candle or a gorgeous puzzle or some fun watercolors. Bonne chance.

I’m 33, I don’t live in NYC or work in media, and I used to absolutely love The Hairpin/The Awl, and Gawker/Jezebel, and then The Toast/The Cut... obviously all now shut down, except The Cut I guess (but for how long?!). I’ve dutifully followed my favorite writers to their newsletters, podcasts, books, even the NYT Style section, but there is this gaping hole in my life that used to be filled with a daily blog check. Where is the new “The Awl”?? Who is curating all the funniest and most insightful writers and illustrators out in the world? It feels like everyone is so dispersed now. I feel out of the loop, and lonely, even, when I really don’t hold back on the depressive thoughts. So I guess the question I’m really asking is, should I finally join Twitter? Is that the one place where I find everyone? Am I my own curator now? Thanks for any insight into this conundrum of mine.

!!! You’re looking for more internet to read not less? At first, this media FOMO question made me laugh a little bit but I get it. I am sorry that you are feeling lonely. Not to be too presumptive but I am hearing behind this question a touch of real life depression and/or anxiety and I wonder how things are in your life away from the key board? Do you have people to talk to about this and other things? Or is the internet a form of escapism from your everyday life? and more importantly, how do you know you’re missing out on anything? Or is it just a feeling? Because I am not sure that there is necessarily a “loop” and that you, in particular are out of it. Websites and platforms come and go. That’s just how capitalism intersects with Al Gore’s internet. The last time I truly enjoyed being on here was before the demise of google reader. I still miss google reader.

FYI Jezebel AND The Cut are still around and I read great stuff on each of those sites but you’re right about the others. RIP. It’s also true that you can get newsletters that aggregate links for you and there are plenty of algorithms you can train to bring you things to read (Nuzzel or Joe Biden’s favorite, Apple News) but perhaps what you are missing is the sense of “community” those websites gave you. Maybe you were a commenter? I will die before I leave a comment but I understand that it’s a powerful experience for those who partake. Maybe you’re just feeling overwhelmed because there is more to read online now than there was back then? I definitely feel overwhelmed by that. Maybe I am wrong about everything.

Anyway, should you join Twitter? hmmmm. A lot of your favorite writers are definitely there, interacting with each other and ignoring their deadlines. Twitter can be a lot of fun but it’s also a huge time suck and warps your sense what’s important and not. You might really like it but I don’t like encouraging this. You’ve gone this long without it, I feel like you could hold out forever and get an E-Z pass into heaven. Another recommendation I cannot make in good faith is to maybe look at Facebook. None of us should have Facebook accounts in the year of our lord 2020 but if you haven’t deactivated yours yet, definitely look to see if a podcast you listen to has a group you could join (Who Weekly and Forever 35 for example are really popular.) Reddit is another place, people like to gather to discuss the internet. Who has the time? Not me but maybe you do. I am biased against social media but I cannot deny that it brought me a lot of great things including work and friends. Dip a toe in and see how you feel. I just don’t know how it will help, not aggravate that feeling of dispersement you expressed.

However, if you don’t need commenting privileges, one solid, good faith recommendation I can make is Deez Links, a dailyish gossipy media newsletter. It’s a digestible, fun, and smart way to know things about the media world and read all the good links. All of your faves will be interviewed on it at some point. Bonne chance.

After months of searching for a new job after graduating with a Master's in May 2020 (lmao I know, global pandemic? economic depression who?) I finally found a job! Said job could be good for my career long term but the paid is pretty bad--definitely not enough to cover student loans and rent in a city as expensive as New York. My new boss is under the impression that I will stay in this entry-level position for two years but the truth is that I have started looking for jobs and interviewing for other positions where the pay is more fair. I know capitalism is a lie and that my employer doesn't truly care about my well being BUT my boss has been a mentor and very kind so far. How would you go about leaving this workplace but trying to maintain a good relationship with this boss?

Congratulations! A new job in this climate is no small feat.

There is too much misguided talk about companies being families. I had a roughish childhood but my parents never fired me when they needed to cut costs. Your job will nix your position at the drop of a hat. Work is not a family but it can still be a place where we feel of a sense of belonging and an obligation to care for each other. I think that’s called “community” but that’s also a scam a lot of times.

It’s not clear from your question whether you have discussed with your boss that the pay is so low, it doesn’t cover your student loans and rent. If I were mentoring someone, that’s something I would like to know and it is definitely something I would ask about. If you can have a candid conversation about this, it might open a door to discuss your future plans. I know a lot of people are scared to talk about money but it really doesn’t have to be confrontational. I like to frame it as just asking questions: hey bossman, so are you saying that after 2 years here, there is a guaranteed salary bump? Can you give me a dollar range? Also is there a title bump and new responsibilities? Who is someone here who has had a similar path? I’m really struggling financially to stay afloat. When you had my position, how did you make it work? (The answer here is either rich parents or he’s from that prehistoric time when your work study dollars actually paid for school.)

If you don’t feel comfortable having this conversation, that’s totally fine. It’s not an easy conversation to have and there are sometimes negative consequences depending on how you broach it. The main reason I am bringing it up is because you are saying that this person is invested in your career. Asking those kinds of questions is an easy way to find out how invested he is. You can ask all those questions without implying that you are leaving but if this man doesn’t start connecting some dots, then maybe he’s not as smart or as kind as you think.

Let me tell you a secret: people be leaving jobs! All the time! Everyone at work is *always* looking for something better and having talks about their professional future, including your boss so don’t stake your entire career on being loyal to someone you can’t be completely candid with.

Also a boss that can’t put aside their own personal feelings and be happy for employees who move on is not a boss you will be happy working for or someone that will be good to you in the future. Life is long and weird. You end up meeting all of your old colleagues again and a lot of times, the power dynamics are different. Today they’re your boss but maybe in a few years you’re equals or in a position to hire them.

The other thing that’s not clear from this question is whether you have a concrete offer on the table. Unless that is the case, there is not really an urgent need to fret about telling your boss you are leaving. We’re in a pandemic so there is no chance he’s going to spot you at lunch on a job interview. This has happened to me and it was awkward but absolutely not the end of the world. The end of the world for me is not being able to financially support myself.

Anyway keep interviewing, don’t slack off at work because you’re interviewing and when you have an offer, give your current job an opportunity to match it (if it’s a place you would consider staying at under the right conditions,) otherwise give them 2 weeks notice at least and tell your boss you want to keep in touch and do keep in touch. Bonne chance.

How would you feel if a close friend only liked things you like and started dressing like you?

Honestly? More of my friends need to start dressing like me! And liking the same stuff as me because it would make my life so much easier. JK..

I dunno man, this one feels like perhaps there is some kind of simmering, unspoken animosity. I wrote a whole book about this with someone who often shows up wearing the same thing as me (or am I the one showing up dressed like her?) We actually find our frog and toading very charming but anyway yes, friends sometimes like the same stuff. When things are good and your tastes are complimentary, you’re vibing on the same wavelength and when things are not good, it’s easy to move on and label the friendship “toxic”. So my questions to you are: Is this really a new thing? What has changed and when did it start? Why is it bothersome? What else is bothering you in this friendship and is it related? Oh if you have a desire to stay friends with this person, you might want to talk to them about it. This kind of resentment doesn’t just magically disappear. Maybe your bestie is trying to flatter you. Maybe it’s a sign of insecurity or low self esteem. Maybe it’s really not about the clothes or your similar tastes at all but there’s only one way to find out. The conversation will definitely be awkward but again, it’s not the end of the world. If you break up, then you break up but at least you have a reason. I regret all the breakups where I have no good explanation about what happened. Bonne chance.

Being alive is sometimes humiliating and very awkward but it’s also… fine. See you Saturday.