Pod Review September 4-10

As I checked in to write this weekly post, WordPress congratulated me for having a sudden spike of traffic on this blog. Whaaaat? Are books so trendy now? Are people suddenly realizing my secret literary genius? Am I turning into a micro-influencer? Nope. All these fans are from Indonesia… and in fact, it’s only one IP address. Sigh… Going deeper into my traffic stats, I realized that a particular Indonesian user has been trying to spam my blog for his own benefits since July. They write comments full of links to Indonesian sites (legit or not, I certainly won’t click on to verify…). In short, I’ve fallen prey to a click farm. Indeed, all those comments have been blocked by WordPress so far, so I haven’t been pestered by it too much, but I believe that the fact that these links exist (even blocked) might help grow these dubious Twitter accounts, websites and IG accounts’ stats. I remember there’s a Reply All episode about this sort of scam, but I can’t put my finger on it. And so instead of reading books, I have spent some time clicking on the “delete” button. Isn’t it ironic that these guys (well, maybe girls, but I doubt it) have turned me into a clicking machine too?

  • 💙 Under the Influence: Episode 3: A shoppable life / Episode 4: An Authentic Woman / Episode 5: If you build it, they will come. What goes on behind the mom influencers’ perfect accounts on Instagram is really fascinating.
  • Edit Your Life #243 Fall Check-In. After “Under the influence”, the kind conversation between Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest felt like a breath of fresh air and a cup of empathy.
  • Radiolab: Breath. Speaking of breath, lots of smaller stories on that theme, some interesting and others less so. I liked the one about the attempt of block one’s breath.
  • NPR On Our Watch: under Color of Law. This is the final episode of the series, a long overdue listen. It was so sad and depressing.
  • This American Life #743 Don’t you be my neighbor. Mmh, everyone has issues with their neighbor at some point, right? I didn’t really care, I have my own.
  • The Mom Hour #328 House rules for easier mornings. Lots of good ideas. Never sign a school paper on the morning again!
  • NPR Short Wave: Why a good scare is sometimes the right call. I’m definitely a scaredy-cat, but the show also points out why we need people who enjoy a good scare too.
  • 99% Invisible: #449 Mine!
  • Un(re)solved (Front Line PBS) Episode 2: The Letters. Unsolved civil rights killings were due for a new investigation, but it sort of petered out. I’m sorry but I can’t really continue to listen to this series, because it is too depressing. Yes, the investigation was botched during the 1960s, and then it wasn’t done right either the second time.

Although Under the Influence has way too many ad breaks to my taste (I’m talking to you, “I heart Radio”), the show is both fascinating and terrifying. Of course I know that these picture-perfect IG accounts are not the real life, but I had no clue how much effort, competition, how many businesses, coaches, agents, photographs are actually behind the scenes. The show also explores how it turns these women’s personal life into a commodity, also their kids and husbands, and what impact it has on them. (Episode 5 has Jo Piazza try to increase her IG posts’ marketability, and she says it made her feel dirty and inauthentic, while she was told to sell authenticity to her audience). After that show, you’d probably unsubscribe from a lot of IG accounts.

On another tone, 99% Invisible episode was lots of fun, exploring the notion of ownership. Do you think ownership is something clear cut and almost scientific? Think again. Listen to that episode and you won’t look at your seat on an airplane the same way anymore, plus a very valid tip about how to deal with the eternal struggle around the reclining seat. Well, if I step into an airplane again…

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