ura McKenna’s piece is part of a perennial microgenre in the world of #Content: the “What Are They Thinking?” piece. It’s a type of essay that presents a certain group’s professional choices as daft and self-injurious, and asks (with more or less faux-sympathy, depending) why they persist. Don’t they know how deluded this is? Don’t they see? The secret sauce in this well-worn type of click-generation is that it provides people who don’t feel very good about their lives with some other group of people who, we are to imagine, feel even worse about theirs. I may never have written that novel; I may not have played past single-A ball; I may have never gotten further than Improv Olympic; but, by god, I’m not some sad French poetry PhD student. That person, that’s the real loser. The person set up as the object of greater scorn isn’t a gas station worker or someone on food stamps, because those people are seen as too lowly to be part of the competition in the first place. The targets have to be people who are seen as potential competition within aspirational culture. The ego-salving function of “What Are They Thinking?” pieces is what they call in the biz the “value added,” the click generator. It’s such a proven revenue generator that Slate hired Rebecca Schuman to do it full time.