The week of February 14, 2016

Love, and love scorned

By Jesse Hicks

In this special Valentine’s Day edition of the Kernel, we’re looking at—not surprisingly—love. But we’re also looking at a failed love that turned into revenge. And finally, how the desire for revenge has led to a proliferation of online entrepreneurs to whom you can outsource your payback.

That’s the story told by Vanessa Willoughby: the dirty business of online revenge. By now most of us have heard about the companies that’ll ship myriad kinds of manure to your enemies, but Willoughby looks behind the gimmick to find out what sent their founders on such an unlikely path of entrepreneurship. Who would have guessed there’s money to be made in the shit-by-mail industry, or in sending candy penises to strangers?

But it’s Valentine’s Day, so who wants to dwell on love gone sour? We’re also checking in with people looking for love, and even a few who have found it. First, there’s YouTube sensation Anthony Quintal. As Rae Votta details, He’s got 1.5 million subscribers, but he’s also 16 and looking for love—and finding out just how hard that can be when you’re famous. He’s turned that struggle into a YouTube series about dating and relationships but would probably be the first to admit he doesn’t have it all figured out.

Finally, Zachary Crockett looks at how inmates are connecting with pen pals online—and how, despite not having Internet access, they’re falling in love. It might seem old-fashioned, epistolary courtship in the age of Tinder, but as one woman testifies, waiting for letters and the rare phone call actually heightens the attraction. “Our time is meted out to us in hours per week,” she says, “so when we are present with one another we are fully present.” Perhaps something to think about on this hyperconnected Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy the issue.

Photo via MCAD Library/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed