The Bluestocking, vol 258
a thrice-divorced mailman from the Florida Panhandle
This week, I tried something new: an open thread asking what the most under-rated period drama is. There are some great suggestions, including To Walk Invisible, Sally Wainwright’s film about the Brontë sisters; the BBC’s adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South; and the Danish drama A Royal Affair.
I’ll do another discussion thread soon: hit reply, or leave a comment if you have a suggestion for a topic. Otherwise I will do “What’s your favourite siege?”
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How Teens Recovered From The TikTok Tics (New York Times)
In high school, Aidan came out as nonbinary and began using “they” and “them” pronouns. They grew out their hair and occasionally wore skirts to school, trying to figure out what felt right. Their parents, while supportive, were worried about the changes, making Aidan feel angry and unsettled.
The teenager took refuge in drama class, where being different was encouraged. But in retrospect, Aidan realized that the group glamorized mental illness, sometimes flaunting psychiatric diagnoses.
“It was like a weird fetishization of sadness,” said Aidan, now 18.
In August 2021, after missing six months of school, Aidan was offered a coveted spot at a small rehabilitation clinic for functional disorders at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Aidan was constantly lurching, hitting themselves and shouting obscenities. “I hate you,” they often yelled at their mother. “Pay me!” “Beetroot!” “I’m a silly goose!”
At the heart of the rehabilitation program, based on years of experience with functional disorders, was a cognitive-behavioral approach that addressed the psychological root of the problem and helped children develop better ways to cope.
The patients needed to accept two things: that they did not have Tourette’s, and that their twitches were partly under their control. They had to want to get better.
Credit to the New York Times for checking back on the “TikTok tics”—actually, functional neurological disorder, spread by social contagion—which I wrote about last year for the Atlantic.
Azeen Ghorayshi’s thorough reporting confirms what Tourette’s experts were telling me then, but which many in the community were resisting: that the best treatment for adolescents suffering this new, explosive disorder was not psychiatric drugs but unplugging from the internet and getting therapy for their broader anxiety.
This line was also interesting: “Other doctors suspect that a small subset of adolescents with serious mental health issues may be more susceptible to social influences. And during the pandemic, adolescents spent more time online, engaging with increasingly popular content related to mental health and gender . . .”
That would tally with research of Jonathan Haidt and others into social media use and teenagers. Many young people have no real problems with using Instagram/TikTok etc beyond the usual tribulations of adolescence. But some—mostly girls, or rather, natal females—are not, in the same way that most of us can have a few drinks and not become alcoholics but some people just can’t.
Who Is @Catturd2, the Sh-tposting King of MAGA Twitter? (Rolling Stone)
Lots of B.’s content, like the @catturd2 character, is fart-and-feces-related. His feed scans a bit like a bathroom-themed version of the anti-Resistance. It is with a supreme fondness for the scatalogical gag that B. has devised rallying cries such as #FreeTheFarts, #WetBuzzardFart, #CatturdsFartingArmy, #FartingSound (Trump retweeted one of those posts as the U.S. death toll from Covid-19 hit 200,000), #PoopyPantsBiden, #PoopGate, #ShartWeek, and countless more. Even when he’s not hammering those tags, B.’s got anal activity on the brain, fantasizing about a person wearing a medical face mask while taking a dump, for example, or how he could feed cows beans so they release more methane with their flatulence. Following his hospital stay for a bowel obstruction, he couldn’t resist noting that he was “full of shit.” A running joke on leftist Twitter is that B. is not a true MAGA crusader but a fart fetishist enlisting gullible Trump supporters to insert his kink into the conversation with the assurance that it will “trigger the libs.”
For a while, I wondered: why does Elon Musk, the world’s once-richest man, keep replying to some Twitter user called Cat Turd 2? I am still no closer to answering that question, but I do at least know more about the man with the ear of the Twitter CEO. This was possibly the least surprising piece of information: “He lives in a town of a few thousand in the Florida Panhandle.” Florida! My problematic fave. Of course.
On which note, if you understand all three references in the tweet below, congratulations! You are Too Online:
“Although the Gender Recognition Reform Bill alone did not bring Sturgeon down— ‘that issue wasn’t the final straw,’ she said at her press conference—the controversy is the most prominent and most concrete example of what did: Her political dominance in Scotland led her to disregard critics and ignore obvious problems until they escalated into scandals.” I wrote about Nicola Sturgeon’s departure as Scotland’s first minister for The Atlantic.
“Treated for testicular cancer at 36, he was briefly misdiagnosed with cancerous lesions on his lungs. It turned out to be the coal dust he had spent his youth inhaling. He spent the subsequent years working for Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and in hostels for homeless care leavers. Gone was the world he recognised: of proud men with jobs for life.” Patrick Maguire profiles Lee Anderson, the new, pro-hanging deputy chair of the Conservative party (The Times, £). In other news, Patrick is one of the British journalists writing most interestingly about Project Starmer.
“While unintelligent people are more easily misled by other people, intelligent people are more easily misled by themselves.” (Gurwinder, Substack).
“They couldn’t be more different, this pair! A real odd couple. One is an aggressively pro-EU cosmopolitan managerialist and the other is, er, an aggressively pro-EU cosmopolitan managerialist.” A fairly brisk shoe-ing of the mega-podcast The Rest is Politics, hosted by Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart which contains the phrase “Say what you like about Henry Kissinger”. (Ben Sixsmith, Substack).
Sorry for the truncated email, I’ve had Covid (again). See you next time!
Ian Miles Cheong, Cat Turd 2 and Andrew Tate.