Failure (prelude)

After Meghan Daum’s marriage falls apart she meets some new friends on YouTube. Also, reporter Paris Martineau tells us about a new game changing online harassment tool: the thotbot.


When Meghan Daum’s marriage ended, she gave up on HBO and Netflix and switched over to YouTube. She wrote about it in a Medium piece called “Nuance: A Love Story.”


Over thanksgiving, while many people were celebrating with their families, Paris Martineau discovered a group of men’s rights activists created a tool to harass sex workers.

11 comments on Failure (prelude)

  1. Oz du Soleil says:

    I REALLY liked the IDW section because I could identify with a lot of what Meghan Daum experienced: finding that folks like Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin raise lots of interesting things that are worth discussing, but then getting exhausted with defending them from people who know then through media hit pieces that label them as alt-right.

    Just when I wanted to share the link to this podcast, we descended into the madness of that guy and his deep fakes.
    WHY? What was the point of putting these together? We started really smart and ended with … I don’t know what that was. Deep Fakes are fascinating and concerning, but that interview I could have done without.

    1. Person says:

      Perhaps the connection is the use of the Jordan Peterson Vice interview footage that had been deceptively edited:

      Funny to talk about the alt-right creating fake media to attack people that they do not agree with politically right after using that chopped up Peterson footage

  2. Josiah Martens says:

    Hey TOE crew! I’m a long time listener, coin-carrying Radiotopia supporter, and Benjamen Coin investor.

    Over the last couple years I have found in the IDW an intellectual home, or at least the closest approximation in public discourse to such. It was thoroughly enjoyable to hear my favorite podcast begin to discuss some of my favorite ideas, especially considering the critical stance TOE seems to be taking with respect to the IDW. I sincerely hope to hear more from you in this vein, but I would like to encourage you to do your best to steel-man the IDW’s core ideas. If your critique responds to real positions rather than cartoonish caricatures I, for one, would greatly benefit.

    Keep up your incisive, satirical, magical-realist work.

    1. John Simons says:

      > If your critique responds to real positions rather than cartoonish caricatures I, for one, would greatly benefit.

      Aimee Terese makes a good case why that’s actually not possible, interviewed here

  3. Michael says:

    What is that great orchestral music around 17:50?

  4. Cody Brazil says:

    ‘I’m not an expert on this,’ ‘I think it’s an important conversation,’ or focusing on the fact that it’s just about free speech is a defensive technique. It puts up a wall that helps them from having to openly support these viewpoints.

    Of course everyone is tired of defending people like Jordan Peterson. These view are indefensible to anyone with social skills or common sense.

    Good thing there are TOE episodes like this to spread the these opinions without any counterpoint beyond exasperation. Great job!

    1. Emily says:

      Exactly. God it was infuriating listening to this woman. If you don’t know about something, LEARN! Gather the facts you need to have an opinion! Just saying “but let’s keep talking about it” without any semblance of actually trying to get to a conclusion is not being open minded, it’s not “defending free speech”, it’s actively anti-intellectual and the exact opposite of a good debate. It’s the equivalent of your petty mother-in-law saying “well I’m entitled to my opinion”—SURE, Debra.

    2. Girard says:

      Yeah. I came over to this series after the “Failure” miniseries was touted on 99% Invisible. I was pretty disappointed by how this show just kind of gave an uncritical platform to totally intellectually bankrupt thinking that has shown itself to be demonstrably harmful, and the only “pushback” or discourse provided was exactly the kind of shallow name-calling that plays right into the bullshit IDW playbook and reinforces their strawman image of liberatory/progressive discourse. Can’t say I’m surprised to see a number of acolytes of IDW’s brand of pseudo-intellectual hogwash in the comments here – it seems like the podcast is catering to a particular audience. I’m just surprised it gets the Roman Mars stamp of approval. I’ll likely not be listening to any further episodes if this is the kind of tepid cultural commentary it engages in.

  5. E. Bee says:

    It’s really disappointing how many basic facts Meghan Daum gets wrong on some very relevant, very dangerous movements and ideas, and that TOE gave her a platform. Even more frustrating is how she then hand waves it aside with “but I’m not an expert, I don’t know”. On the one hand, I can appreciate that the episode was showcasing the ‘activity’ itself of the IDW and not necessarily the content being espoused by Daum, but at the same time, it gave voice to some very misguided and poorly informed opinions in pursuit and that’s disappointing. There are a lot of really great thought pieces and experiments happening right now on line, Daum doesn’t seem to explore any of them.

    Her ideas on what Gamergate is about, and what its focus is, are alone cringeworthy. And as someone above me mentions, maybe she’s tired of defending Jordan Peterson because his points of view are indefensible. You can’t claim someone has valid points worthy of discourse and then hand wave “but I’m not an expert so I don’t know if he’s right” at the very end, as if it smooths the problems over. I whole heartedly agree that no topic is so taboo it cannot be discussed, but there has to come a point where we’ve talked the subject thorough and decide as a culture and society that it isn’t worth discussing any more because the topicis an invalid one. You don’t see many mainstream discussions on the pros and cons of Eugenics for this reason.

    It made focusing on the very idea of the IDW, the ostensible subject of the episode, next to impossible for me because the basic facts of the examples used were either uninformed or painfully misinformed. Unless your piece’s goal was to warn people away from the long form discussions happening on platforms like YouTube because they’re caught up so fiercely in their own white walled echo chamber, it wasn’t worth anyone’s time to engage? Because if that’s the case, then this episode was a rousing success.

  6. Morgan says:

    The Thotbot piece was interesting to know about, like I had not known that had happened, but the interview at the end was really out of place for me and actually a bit harmful. Although you called him deplorable, I hated that he got so much space to share his views, and I hated even more that you left us hanging with nothing else at the end. It was sort of like being suddenly verbally attacked. I didn’t see it coming, I felt scared, and then he was gone. I don’t know where he is in the world, but it sucks knowing that he’s there.

    Maybe next time have a trigger warning or something at least? But I really wouldn’t wish for anyone else to hear that interview.

  7. Arica says:

    I relate to so much I’m graduating soon and feeling rather lost and alone and I fill my time with podcasts and YouTube, books and audiobooks. Things I can share with no one else because their depth is usually off putting. . I’ve thought a lot about how to share these things with others becuase I feel like I have to kind of trick people into it, or catch them when they are vulnerable. I found myself a little happy the other day when I visited my friend who had just broken her neck in the snow, because she might be bored enough to read and watch the things I send her now and I can have someone to talk to. I love the idea of these things coming together in a form of a mixtape. I get lonely being around people who are afraid of engaging provocative discussions, I even find the notion a bit dangerous. I got away from TOE for little while, and I’m really enjoying the recent episodes.

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