‘Office Perks Are Dumb,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while wondering how Wolf Blitzer still has his job

Outside: Is Social Media Screwing Over Explorers?

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

Outdoorsy brands have sponsored landmark expeditions for years. Thanks to social media, veteran explorers are now being slowly replaced by more social-savvy—but oftentimes less experienced—alternatives. The scope and ambition of trips are also being scaled back in favor of safer, quicker trips that focus more on content creation than the original intent: exploration and adventure.

It’s yet another demonstration of the power of social media platforms and their unquenchable thirst for more content. Publishers, brands, explorers—everyone is feeling the pressure to shape themselves to better fit the feeds of the machine.

The Atlantic: Virtual Reality Reminds Users What It’s Like to Be Themselves

Selected by Carly Miller, editorial intern

I was 10 years old when I got my first pair of glasses, and I’ll always remember that first day with them. I could see every branch on every tree and single rain drops collecting on the car window. The mundane became electric; it was thrilling just to see how objects moved through space. Reading Michael W. Clune’s sharply written article on virtual reality brought me right back to that moment.

Clune takes readers through the embryonic immersion of VR. He challenges the claim that VR enhances the empathy response and explores the danger of closing the gap between seeing and experiencing. While the wave of VR excitement focuses on the potential of (virtually) transporting yourself to another place, Clune concludes that the true magic of VR isn’t about escaping into another world with another body, but rediscovering the magic of being inside your own.

Bloomberg: Has Soccer Made Herbalife Unbeatable?

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

I don’t care much for soccer, but I own an LA Galaxy Herbalife jersey. It was given to me as a gift, and I like it, mostly because it looks cool. For years, I wore it without knowing anything about Herbalife. Thinking back on it, I’m pretty sure I thought it was a weed startup.

I promise that personal anecdote has a purpose. The jersey’s aesthetic appeal didn’t just lure me in, it helped draw in millions. And it may have even helped Herbalife thrive while running a pyramid scheme. This was all news to me as I read this short but very interesting piece from Bloomberg writer Matthew Townsend. It’s the perfect example of how influential marketing and savvy branding can overpower shady corporate activity.

The Content Strategist: Under the Influence

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

I try to avoid promoting TCS stories here, but this feature by our very own Dillon Baker is too good not to share. It exposes an underreported story that’s going to be a big deal very soon: the extreme shadiness of influencer marketing. Read it!

Bloomberg: Office Perks Are Dumb

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

Scrolling through my iPhone while stepping over one of our office dogs in efforts to reach our wall of free snacks in Contently H.Q., I was outraged to come across this Bloomberg piece that was critical of startup perks. We have it pretty good here: management is open to working from home, our product team recently built an arcade machine, and we get free lunches on Fridays (take note, Greta: Please no more salad).

The story specifically speaks to “surface-level perks” that mostly look appealing during the job hunt but ultimately don’t mean much. Ping Pong tables. Red Bull in the fridge. Yes, perhaps the aforementioned arcade machine would fall under this umbrella. But the article makes the point that people care a lot more about real benefits like paid time off, vacation policies, family-care flexibility, and so on. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking thesis.

I would argue, however, that while those surface level perks may just be a way to attract young, impressionable talent, the free lunches and arcade games are still indicators that a company has your back. As infrequent as it may be to play a quick game of ping pong during the work day, it’s at least a sign that your employer values (some) of your personal time and sanity.

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