Is ‘Friends’ Still TV’s Most Popular Show, and Is 4chan Still Just Awful? Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too.

Today we have stories about toxic behavior on both college campuses and internet hole 4chan, as well as a report exploring how, after 20 years, people are still obsessed with Friends. Lastly, we’ve got a profile of Google’s CEO, whose name you probably should know.

There’s a good chance that, if you’ve heard of the message board 4chan, you know of it as breeding ground for internet memes and/or toxic behavior. The Baffler investigated the site’s community of self-described “beta” males, who commiserate, conspire, and, occasionally, act on the hate-fueled obsession to lash out against a world they believe doesn’t play fair.

The night before the shooting, an earlier post on /r9k/ had, in veiled but ominous terms, warned fellow commenters from the Northwestern United States that it would be a good idea to steer clear of school that day. The implication was not lost on the /r9k/ community. The first responder in the thread asked, “Is the beta uprising finally going down?” while others encouraged the anonymous poster and gave him tips on how to conduct a mass shooting. The apparent link between the post and the killer remains under FBI investigation, but in the immediate wake of Harper-Mercer’s rampage, a number of the board’s users hailed it as a victory for the beta rebellion.

Jezebel examined the dismissal of Thomas Sayers Ellis, a reportedly talented professor at the University of Iowa prestigious Writers’ Workshop, who was dismissed after students anonymously accused of him of sexual misconduct, seemingly breaking from literary academia’s tradition of supporting valuable professors, even as they develop reputations for making inappropriate sexual advances.

The accusations against Ellis portrayed him as a familiar sort of figure. The story of the important, inappropriate literary man is so common and entrenched as to feel depressingly unremarkable. Women often circulate warnings about them in private, never sure what to do: they talk about incidents that are disturbing but often shy of criminally reportable, and they distribute warnings via hearsay, and they tell you they wish they, or their friend, or their friend of a friend, had known to stay away. There’s the grabby lit mag editor, the wildly volatile critic, the author you hear once hit somebody, the professor who every year dates a first-year grad student and manages to send her reputation, not his, into the mud.

Vulture literally travels the world to find out why Friends is one of the most beloved shows on “television” — actually Netflix — more than a decade after it went off the air.

More than once, when asked about the appeal of the show, a 20-something quoted back to me an iconic line that Monica says to Rachel in the pilot: “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.” They explain that they’ve adopted the line as a kind of generational motto.

BuzzFeed profiled Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who is relatively unknown for a guy whose company knows everything about you.

Yet while he’s purposefully keeping a low profile today, that’s clearly not possible long-term. Pichai was promoted to Google’s top job in August, following a massive restructuring that created a new holding company, Alphabet. This let the company peel off its more fantastical ventures — things like Calico that’s “curing” death, or its Wing self-flying-drone delivery service — as Alphabet subsidiaries, while keeping all of its main internet businesses under Google. With $74.5 billion in annual revenue last year, Google is by far the largest (and only profitable) business under Alphabet. Indeed, Google has seven different products that more than a billion people use: Search, Gmail, YouTube, Android, Chrome, Maps, and its app and media vending machine, the Google Play Store.