Illustration by Cathal Duane https://cathalduane.com

My February in media: identity politics, porn tech take-over, ISIS and turning 30.

This year, I promised myself I’d keep a (meaningful) media journal, posting every month a list of media that I think are worth sharing.

It’s the last day of February and I am sat with my laptop, in a bar on a Thursday night. Eating tacos and going through my media journal.

February is a short month, I tell myself. It’s also the month I turned 30 so I’ve been pre-occupied with working out how I feel about it. For now, it feels rather liberating. I haven’t achieved anything that a person should achieve by that age. I’m childless, unmarried, living in a rented flat. I’ve gone past the threshold, without ticking any of the above boxes. There’s nothing I need to do by my 30th birthday anymore. The clock struck midnight and nothing has turned into a pumpkin. Life goes on.

Perhaps it’s a placebo effect (yes, of taking the ‘I’m 30 now’ pill) but life not only continues but feels a little bit more comfortable. I am officially no spring chicken, which comes with certain privileges. For example, not having to explain why you are a National Trust member or having the courage to confidently tell a Lush assistant that you want to be left alone.

So has anything truly changed since I turned 30? I signed up for a calligraphy course, a writing workshop, stand up comedy and ceramics classes. I briefly considered buying a house, getting pregnant and getting married. And then a sudden hormonal acne break out reminded me that there’s only one age. Dead or alive. And by now, I am pretty sure we never quite work it out. I mean, the grand plan for life.

So for now, I’ll continue to work on earning more time for things that feel good. Like looking after my body. Cultivating meaningful relationship, developing a purposeful career that serves others and feeding my head with good, inspiring media.

Here’s my February Media Journal of things to read, watch and listen to. Plus a rogue miscellaneous bonus entry.

Read

The Good Immigrant- a collection of essays exploring what it means to be Black, Asian and ethnic minority in Britain today. Published in 2016 a result of Nikesh Shukla’s crowdfunding campaign, the books feel particularly relevant now as we discuss what it means to be British in the world today. It is a mixed bag; some essays feel weak but there are also thought provoking and eye opening pieces that make for an important contribution to discussion on British identity today.

We are Optimising Ourselves to Death by Zander Nethercutt- the world around us if constantly offering us ways to ‘optimise’ our lives, gain more time and spend it more productively. And in most cases, what do we end up doing with this newly found ‘freedom’? We work. A good reminder to pause and think in our quest for an ‘optimised’ life.

Positive News Magazine- first media organisation dedicated to reporting on what’s going right in the world. And not in a ‘I see no evil’, delusional way but in a way that feels constructive and encouraging. Subscribe.

Point.51- is an independent magazine featuring long-form journalism and documentary photography. It explores essential issues in Europe today. The first issue includes four long-form stories and several photo essays, exploring the journey undertaken by asylum seekers and the ordinary citizens living in the towns and communities caught up in the largest mass movement of people across Europe since World War II

Listen

Caliphate- Rukmini Callimachi, The New York Times foreign correspondent covering Al-Qaed and ISIS, dives deep into the life in the terror organisation. It’s gripping, moving, beautifully produced and above all really really good journalism.

The Butterfly Effect- Jon Ronson explores the impact of content sharing websites on the adult entertainment industry. It’s unlike any other non-fiction about porn as it mostly focuses on the tech take over of the porn industry and the effect it had on people of both sides of the camera.

Mandem- Has Identity Politics Gone too far? A panel discussion discussing issues of identity politics, its impact and validity. It wasn’t a polished, carefully moderated debate but rather a huge group of people that turned out to discuss a fascinating issue. Majority of the audience was made of young people of colour and I wish these kinds of debates could somehow reach more people. Perhaps particularly, those who are less conscious of identity as a powerful social construct.

Bonus Entry

Coombeshead Farm is a project set in 60 acres of rural Cornwall. Self-sufficient, run by a small and uber passionate team lead by the acclaimed Tom Adams. It’s beautiful, serene and obsessively farm-to-fork. It’s the kind of place that makes the outside world seem unkept and broken. Th reason why I include it in my media journal is because it made me feel like a great book or an interesting podcast does; inspired, curious about the world and wanting more.