2021 Year in Review
Favorite writing, reading, and newsletters of 2021
Like many others in Earth’s wonderful orbit, I’ve been spending a lot of the past week in a mostly lethargic and reflective state, pulling back the covers on a fun, messy, and occasionally provocative 2021.
(Note: If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend sitting in front of a fire (or a space heater if you live in a daft city apartment), boiling a nice hot mug of chamomile tea, putting on this instrumental playlist, and finding a good annual review format.)
I wanted to first start by thanking every single person who has opened or read any issue of the Mind Meld. I started writing this in June 2020, went through many directional pivots, longer breaks this past year, and jumped into topics I had no idea whether anybody let alone hundreds of people would want to get excited about.
While metrics are fun, what makes me happiest is knowing this newsletter introduced someone to a topic for the first time, changed someone’s mind, gave someone a new platform for their ideas, inspired someone to write more or gave someone permission to be weird about their questions. All of it.
Now, without further ado, wanted to share some of my highlights of 2021!
Favorite Writing of 2021
This year, I threw 24 pieces into the newsletter exploring a chaotic variety of topics - predictions around the Facebook rebrand, Twitter follows, and Clubhouse, takes on NFTs and the Metaverse, and observations around everything from Supreme to Cinnabon. The icing on the cake was getting to collaborate with so many talented writers, like Evan Armstrong, Kyla Scanlon, Joey DeBruin, and Rapha Menezes among many others who gave edits and inputs on the pieces.
As the year ends, some of my favorite pieces to look back on…
What Makes a Good Meme Last? - Deep dive into the Bernie Sanders meme and what it taught us about the durability of memes
Why Is Everyone Obsessed with BTS? - Deep dive into k-pop and what makes BTS particularly unique among its culture
Why Are We Obsessed with Fancy Water Brands? - Deep dive into the fascination behind expensive water and what drives us to it
Will Twitter’s Super Follows Feature Be a Hit? - Deep dive into the good and the bad that comes with Twitter’s new feature set
How Does Scent Influence Our Purchases? - Deep dive into the power that scent has on brand marketing and how it’s weaponized across the board
Favorite Reads of 2021
Being online a lot means reading too much for my own sanity. Welp.
But a quick snapshot at some essays this year that stood out:
Effort (Ava) - “I like people who try very hard, and I like people who attempt to conceal their effort, but I especially like people who let all their effort show. We are all Frankenstein monsters—patchwork quilts of past experiences—trying to pass ourselves off as whole and cohesive things.”
You are not the person you were before the pandemic (Joe Berkowitz) - “It feels obscene to worry about deadlines. Humanity itself is on deadline. The project you’ve been working on for the last two years is now an artifact from a lost civilization.”
Two Worlds (Morgan Housel) - “Consumers are in the best shape they’ve been in, ever. A huge portion of consumers think that’s bogus because they’re in the worst shape they’ve been in, ever. Both are true.”
It’s Okay to Outgrow the Life You Thought You Wanted (Rainersford Stauffer) - “There’s also a version where you get exactly what you want — a school, a job, a city, a specific friend group — and experience the sinking feeling that the life and self you imagined you wanted simply doesn’t click.”
Clubhouse Cured My Imposter Syndrome (C. Brandon Ogbunu) - “The nonsense is so endless, so thorough, so diverse, and, through the audio format, more resounding than on any other platform. A hydra of bullshit that has had a net positive effect on my psyche.”
Mans Search For Meaning at Work (Max Nussbaum) - “Personally, I do feel like my work is meaningful more often than not. But it’s meaningful in the same way a sunset or a really good conversation with a friend is meaningful: because even the smallest things in life are full of meaning if you know where to look.”
Favorite Newsletters of 2021
A non-exhaustive list of newsletters I’ve enjoyed this year - mostly split into marketing and non-marketing because of the nature of this newsletter but not in any sort of order otherwise 😉
Kevan Lee’s Newsletter
Nik Sharma’s Newsletter
What’s Next for the Mind Meld?
At this time, I have no plans to stop the current format of the Mind Meld the way that it is in all its long-term spontaneity and splendor.
I found quickly in the latter half of 2021 that the frequency of its earlier half just wasn’t possible in a less COVID-restricted, school-heavy world. You may see the frequency slow down quite a bit in 2022 - but just as a heart beats, it will continue to march on!
Things I know I want to explore: More pieces around predictions, more collaborations, more unpacking messy and complicated concepts (seriously, what’s up with DAOs?), and more opining on current events. Maybe a rebrand? Whatever the newsletter equivalent of bangs is? Who knows.
I welcome the future with you, dear reader.
Thank you again for a great 2021!