Tag Archives: The Kernel

Creepypasta, Shirley Jackson, and Horror Podcasts: A Halloween Reading Guide

Happy Halloween! It’s the season of costume parties, trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving, and scary stories. The spookiness doesn’t have to end with the weekend—indulge in classic creepypasta, scary podcasts, and Ms. (Shirley) Jackson on your lunch break.

1. “The Definitive Guide to Creepypasta–The Internet’s Scariest Urban Legends.” (Aja Romano, The Kernel, October 2012)

For the past two weeks, I’ve been in a reading funk. I start a book; I put it down; repeat. Instead of novels, I’ve turned to Reddit (for virtually the first time in my life), reading creepypasta and other weird stories into the wee hours. Bonus round: Every year, Jezebel collects terrifying stories from their readers—usually of the paranormal-it-happened-to-me variety–and this year’s is up! I think “Armoire” is the scariest. Read more…

Why the Church of Scientology Can’t Beat the Internet

Over at The Kernel, Jesse Hicks has put together a fascinating account of the Church of Scientology’s relationship with the Internet. So, how has a notoriously secretive and hierarchical organization dealt with the world’s most “open and radically nonhierarchical platform for communication”? Not well. Scientology’s antagonistic relationship to the Internet dates back to the web’s early days: when an early ’90s message board became a gathering place for Scientology critics, the Church launched a full-scale war on the site. Things have not improved in the intervening two decades. Why?

Mark Ebner, another journalist who’s often written about the church, offers an even blunter assessment. “We (journos, apostates and critics alike) saw the Internet undoing of Scientology coming around ’96,” he emails. The Internet amplified the reach of critics and brought them together; it helped potential defectors find critical information otherwise suppressed by the church. (Tory Christman remembers the software sent to members in 1998: described as a Web page builder, it also covertly blocked users from viewing anti-Scientology websites.) “The Internet pulled back the curtain to find Hubbard bare, and caught the Office of Special Affairs with their pants down,” Ebner writes. “Years later, Anonymous came to Cyber Town and strafed Scientology while they weren’t looking.”

Read the story

More on Scientology from the Longreads Archive

I Ship It: Six Stories About Fanfiction

Photo: Karen Roe

OTP: You and this reading list. I’ve wanted to share writing about fanfiction for some time. Fanfiction is often ridiculed (Why can’t the authors keep from inserting themselves into the story? Why is everyone having sex? Why does 50 Shades of Grey exist?!), but it’s a legitimate creative outlet. Fanfiction has played a small but significant role in my own life, and I’ll elaborate in my list. If you’re totally lost right now, check out Vulture’s beautiful, if patchy, primer (#3 on this list), and then plunge into these funny, fascinating stories about the world of fanfiction.

1. “Stories are Waves.” (Michelle Nijhuis, Aeon, July 2014)

I love–love–this essay from Aeon about a mother who gender-bends classic characters (meet Girl Bilbo!) at her daughter’s request. It’s advocacy for diversity and equality in literature, as well as the power of seeing yourself in a story–which fanfiction often provides. Read more…