Gatekeepers: The Wing, Facebook & The NYTimes (Cafe Society Dinner Discussion #8)

Plus: Diversity @ Maxwell, The Sweetgreenification of Society & Charter Cities

Cafe Society is Maxwell Social’s weekly magazine on the intersection of community and society — an anthropological look at the underpinnings of what makes the world tick, written by David Litwak (@dlitwak) and the Maxwell team.

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Hey friends,

Because we didn’t want to come across as tone deaf, minimizing the massive issues going on both with African Americans and in Hong Kong, we decided to pause and skip a couple weeks of this newsletter. We also debated on whether to say something but we felt uneasy doing so, feeling like many of the statements of support came across as pandering and opportunistic virtue signaling . . . even the NFL, after belittling Kaepernick for years, is suddenly woke . . .

Our feelings were aptly summarized by Professor Galloway in Just Don’t:

Just Stop It. Systemic racism is a serious issue, but a 30-second spot during The Masked Singer doesn't prove you are serious about systemic racism.”

So I’ll leave it with this - as a company intimately interested in organizing communities that are diverse, we’re asking for your help on one thing internally before moving onto the weekly update: if you know someone from a diverse background who would love our mission to build a new type of social club, we’d love to chat with them.

Onto the update that we’ll keep relatively short.

Gatekeepers, Openness & Open Society: What FB, The NYTimes and The Wing All Have In Common

I started writing this week’s article with what we thought was a relatively small insight — what do the debate about Twitter and Facebook “censorship,” the CEO of The Wing stepping down and the Tom Cotton Op-Ed in the NYTimes all have in common?

Answer: They all revealed gatekeepers who either don’t understand that they are gatekeepers or what they are gatekeeping for, and the misunderstanding of the tacit agreement they have made with their users has started to blow up in their face.

But we kept on coming back to Facebook and its fundamental misunderstanding: they think they have been empowered to guard against any threats to openness and transparency, while many of its users think they have empowered Facebook to guard against threats to an open society, i.e. protect the truth and facts.

The supreme irony is that Facebook unseated MySpace based on a better understanding of guarding an open society through restricting freedoms, specifically around the core concept of identity - remember how you could change your name, your profiles look, etc. on MySpace?

We really went deep this week, so click through to the medium post to read more.

Read On Medium

What Else We’re Reading

John Cleese on Being Self-Righteous to Justify Just Being An Asshole

Among all the turmoil right now I thought this tweet from John Cleese of Monty Python from 30 years ago was good reminder that we should all still be kind as we bring people along to our viewpoints. “Once you’re armed w/one of those super-lists of enemies, you can be as nasty as you’d like, and yet feel your behavior is morally justified.”

The Causal Effect of Local Non-Profits on Violent Crime

Drawing on a panel of 264 cities spanning more than 20 years, we estimate that every 10 additional organizations focusing on crime and community life in a city with 100,000 residents leads to a 9 percent reduction in the murder rate, a 6 percent reduction in the violent crime rate, and a 4 percent reduction in the property crime rate.

The Sweetgreenification of Society

Great article on how our societies are naturally segmenting:

We are losing the spaces we share across socioeconomic strata. Slowly, but surely, we are building the means for an everyday urbanite to exist solely in their physical and digital class lanes. It used to be the rich, and then everyone else. Now in every realm of daily consumer life, we are able to efficiently separate ourselves into a publicly visible delineation of who belongs where.

We lost the lunch line. We lost the coffee cart. We’re losing the commute. Innovation has bestowed upon us an entire homescreen worth of transportation options that allow us to congest the roads and never brush elbows with those taking the subway. Meanwhile, the crumbling of the subways aren’t felt by an ever growing number of the somewhat well-to-do.

Events Coming Up

We're partnering with the fantastic ladies at Fyli to put on a Happy Hour with OUR New York Vodka on Thursday, 25th June.

OUR are treating you to free product - on the house! (And shipping it to you, I mean, how good are these guys?!). All you need to do is email us (, tell us the address to ship it to and we'll take care of the rest. LIMITED to 12 people.

Here's what we're doing
 - Mixing a tasty Moscow Mule, OUR Vodka style
 - With Henry Polanco from OUR
 - Fun social mixer afterwards

Thanks, and if you enjoyed our newsletter please send it to a couple friends!

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Have a great week!

David (@dlitwak), Kyle, Joelle & Dana