Illustrations: Cecilia Fletcher

For many female fans, true crime is exposure therapy

The summer before my sophomore year of high school, a classmate of mine was murdered by a stranger while he was doing yard work on his parents’ front lawn. His name was Alain Colaco, and while we weren’t close, I knew him as ridiculously smart, very cute (he was the object of various friends’ crushes), and extremely polite.

Not that any of that matters when it comes to senseless acts of violence. Alain was shot six times in the head and chest by a man who later said he “had the urge to do it.” …

Hannah Shaw has a million devoted Instagram followers and a new book that helps kids develop their natural compassion for animals

Photos provided by Hannah Shaw

Hannah Shaw, also known as “Kitten Lady,” is famous among her million Instagram followers for rescuing kittens — she’s saved hundreds, many of them only days old, and shares their journeys online. But IRL, she’s an equal-opportunity animal-lover, and always has been. “I have always been an animal advocate,” she tells me on a call from San Diego, where she runs Orphan Kitten Club, a nonprofit kitten rescue launched last year. “I was involved in animal advocacy for farmed animals, animals in laboratories, and animals in entertainment for much longer than I was ever involved in anything with cats.”

Shaw…

Malicious envy is almost always self-destructive, but benign envy can be a tool for self-improvement

Illustration: Aaron Fernandez

It’s hard to find someone who has anything good to say about envy. It’s not just that it’s an unpleasant feeling to experience — it’s also widely considered a litmus test of character, a window into the darker inclinations of the person who holds it. 18th-century writer William Hazlitt once called it a “littleness of the soul.” Nearly 2,000 years earlier, Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder quipped that it “always implies unconscious inferiority wherever it resides.” It’s a deadly sin, a red flag for insecurity, a driver of greed.

It’s also natural, and ubiquitous. In one 2015 study, around three-quarters…

Something that’s too often misunderstood about loneliness: It’s not the same as being alone

Photo: Martin Barraud/Getty Images

It’s an unsettling sensation: You’re at a party, surrounded by people you know, chatting away — and somehow, in the middle of all those people, you realize that you still feel strangely alone.

Loneliness, you may have heard, is now a full-on epidemic. In one recent, widely covered survey, nearly half of Americans reported that they were sometimes or always lonely; a separate, smaller study found that three-quarters of participants had moderate to high levels of loneliness. …

Love/Hate

A roundtable with four of crime media’s most notable hosts

Credit: Busá Photography/Moment/Getty

America’s love affair with crime as entertainment is at an all-time high. As a genre, true crime isn’t new; its fandom goes as far back as the 1550s, when British authors distributed printed leaflets detailing a sordid variety of crimes — the ickier the better. But today there are more ways than ever to consume crime entertainment: through podcasts, Netflix shows, documentaries, and, of course, Law & Order: SVU reruns.

In the saturated market, women-run programming is becoming a standout. While men perpetrate the most violent crimes, data shows that women consume the most media about them. According to Brandwatch…

Laura Barcella

Journalist. Author. Crime junkie. Cat lady. www.laurabarcella.com

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