Welcome to the latest edition of BuzzFeed News' culture newsletter, Cleanse the Timeline! You can subscribe here.
In case you missed it, the BuzzFeed News culture desk has spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks thinking about sex. For our annual sex series, Sneaky Links, we talked about kinks, what happens when purity influencers pivot to sexual content, the women who buy male sex dolls, the state of sex parties for women, and quite a bit more. It’s everything you talk about in your group chats and then some — go ahead and take a peek.
In today’s edition of Cleanse the Timeline, Tomi Obaro talks up Keith Gessen’s parenting memoir, Raising Raffi. Stephanie McNeal looks into clout-chasing medical professionals (yikes), and Scaachi Koul noticed that people were finding it difficult to celebrate the 4th of July this year.
Estelle Tang, senior culture editor
Welcome to Read This, where we recommend something old or new to add to your ever-growing book pile.
Raising Raffi by Keith Gessen
I was going on a reporting trip from New York to Maryland last month, and I needed a book to read for the three-hour train ride — something pleasant, humorous, mildly thought-provoking, and ultimately kind of sweet. Raising Raffi, a new essay collection by Keith Gessen, a contributing writer to the New Yorker and the spouse of fellow writer Emily Gould, was a perfect fit. In essays that go down easily, he writes about the experiences of early parenthood: how little he knew about childbirth — and home births, more particularly; teaching his son Russian; the children’s books he really likes; and the specific torturous travail that is figuring out which New York public school his child should go to, among other themes.
The subjects he mines aren’t particularly novel, and Gessen is self-aware enough to acknowledge that, especially since Gould is more famous for her confessional writing than Gessen is. Still, I enjoyed reading this book, though perhaps for slightly voyeuristic reasons. (I find the openness of the Gould-Gessens endlessly fascinating!) So if you’re looking for a delightful read, or perhaps even a gift for the father figures in your life, try Raising Raffi. —Tomi Obaro
Hi, and welcome to Like and Subscribe, Stephanie McNeal’s column about the accounts and trends she just can’t stop following on social media.
Doctors and Nurses Are Being Called Out for Being Cringe on TikTok, and TBH, They Deserve It
When it comes to clout chasing, it turns out medical professionals are just like us.
This week, a nurse named Olivia Vanderford drew the ire of social media users by posting an admittedly cringey video to TikTok.
“Lost a patient today,” reads the caption on the video as Vanderford walks away from the camera, hands on her head, while a slowed-down clip of Sia’s “Unstoppable” plays. “Shake of [sic] off, you have 5 more hours.”
Someone posted the video to Twitter, where it amassed more than 14 million views and spawned a ton of outrage. Some sample comments: “That is called narcissism.” “Is this some type of joke?” “Very weird behavior.”
Twitter users quickly turned Vanderford’s video into a meme: “my nurse stopping to make a tiktok while i'm coding on the table,” tweeted one person alongside a video of Addison Rae dancing for the camera; “if i died in a hospital and the nurse started making a tiktok, i’d come back to life just to smack the phone out her hand idc,” wrote another.
Apparently sufficiently shamed, Vanderford has deleted her TikTok account. But while she may have finally thought better of making her job into content, there are plenty of other medical professionals doing the same thing. Just search, say, “nurse patient loss” on the app and you will see video after video after video of tearful posts about hard experiences on the job.
It’s not just TikTok. Doctors and nurses have been growing their platforms on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for years. There are even handy tips online if you want to become a doctor influencer (docfluencer?), which include, “Showcase patient success stories” and “Promote your profile everywhere.”
To be fair, social media is a great tool for some in the medical industry. Smaller practices use it to get their names out there. Some doctors share useful information with their followers and dispel health myths. And people working in the medical field can find comfort and solidarity in sharing their experiences with others and watching each other’s videos.
But it’s hard not to look at a video of someone crying for the camera, knowing they took the time to edit and set the video to music, and not think of it as performative. Social media clout can bring fame and fortune, and it’s not great to see medical professionals seeking virality rather than focusing on what may be best for their patients and loved ones.
As one person wrote on Twitter: “if i die in a hospital and a nurse uses me for clout on tiktok i will be haunting the shit out of them actually.” —Stephanie McNeal
Please enjoy this edition of Feudwatch, a column wherein Scaachi Koul talks about a feud she is enjoying, engaged in, or, perhaps, both.
America vs. Everybody
It was funny, frankly, to watch everyone trip over themselves last weekend in proclaiming that they would NOT be celebrating Independence Day this year, as they had apparently just RECENTLY DISCOVERED that this allegedly greatest country on Earth in fact sucks mucho.
What did it, I wonder? Was it the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which now makes it that much harder to get an abortion? Or maybe it was all the gun violence, the countless deaths, tallying up to more than 300 mass shootings in this stupid country this year alone. Perhaps most depressing is the total ineptitude of the Democratic Party, which has not yet successfully codified Roe or expanded the Supreme Court or ended the filibuster or done anything other than put their thumbs up their asses and mutter about the importance of getting registered to vote in the midterms this fall. It doesn’t matter how many ice cream cones Joe Biden folksily eats — everything is depressing.
I don’t know what to do anymore. All I’m certain about is that living in the US often feels like being a bug burrowed in the fur of a large, cruel beast that has been spending the last few hundred years bucking and gnashing and trying to kill us while we hang on for dear life. I moved here four years ago from Canada, and increasingly, I have less and less of a good answer for my mother when she asks why I came here in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I hate Canada. But there’s something uniquely devastating about living in a place as arrogant and yet horrific as the US. Just imagine me as Homer Simpson, screaming, “It’s still good! It’s still good!” as the pig I was going to barbecue floats down the river.
Which, I guess, brings us back to the 4th of July. Until recently, it seems, everyone was happily spending the holiday setting off their little sparklers and making their awful flag cakes. But that was when things were merely catastrophically upsetting. Now they are unavoidably macabre.
That said, my friend is visiting from Toronto right now. As I wrote this, he scrolled through my Seamless account, marveling at the sheer abundance of fast-food options ready to hurtle to my door in 22 minutes, hot and cheap. “Greatest country in the world,” he muttered to himself. If only he knew.
Winner in spirit: No one.
Winner in actuality: No one. No one! God, we’re fucked. —Scaachi Koul
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