Photo via Catherine Dunn-Gilbert

What We’re Reading: Love is great, but have you tried friendship?

A few Medium stories you may have missed this week

Medium Staff
The Medium Blog
Published in
4 min readFeb 17, 2023


The big holiday this week was all about love. (Please see our list of Staff Picks for Valentine’s Day for some sharp thoughts on romance from Medium writers). Yet an equally powerful, though far less heralded, force in all our lives is friendship. Simple friendship — a thing we learn early but never really master — can have as much impact on our overall happiness as love.

For instance, see “the midlife happiness dip,” a well-documented social phenomenon positing that our happiness declines from age 20 until our mid-40s, where it bottoms out and then starts to pick up again. Fear not, there are ways to help you ride out the dip, chief amongst them spending time strengthening your social relationships, aka friends.

The recent state of the world certainly hasn’t helped. Friendships haven’t weathered the changes of the pandemic particularly well, and we may be in the midst of a “friendship recession.” These relationships take time to build or nurture, and are harder to maintain at a distance over Zoom. The idea of a friendship day, or Galentine’s Day, has recently picked up steam. Curious to hear what you think of celebrating non-romantic plus-ones in this way, or if you’ve read anything recently that’s improved your relationship to friendship. Reply and let us know.

Also: We have some exciting announcements for you this week from Medium. We’ve launched a new program inviting published authors to verify their identity by claiming their books and earning a book badge for their profile on the site. And for members, we’re excited to announce we’ve rolled out offline reading for members — you can now download lists directly to your device with the latest version of our Android and iOS apps.

We have a lot planned over the coming months, and are excited to keep sharing updates with you as they roll out.

Thanks for being here,
Scott Lamb
VP, Content @ Medium

Here’s what we’re reading this week…

I just shut down my first startup. Here’s my retro.” by Lillian Cartwright, former founder

I put my heart and soul into building this company. There are things I’m not proud of, and mistakes I hope to never make again. But the journey certainly doesn’t stop here.

Lillian Cartwright

We mythologize highways, but they’ve damaged communities of color” by Ryan Reft, author of ‘Justice and the Interstates: The Racist Truth About Urban Highways,’ via Urban Resilience Project

Popular stories celebrating highways, as well as their centrality to the lives of many Americans regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, have stymied a more accurate understanding of the interstates’ impacts.

The Irony of Centering White People’s Comfort During Black History Month” by Allison Wiltz, womanist scholar and writer, in Cultured

Who made White people the editor and chief of Black history, and if Black people’s perspectives don’t matter now, is there ever an appropriate time?

Should You Worry About Gas Stoves?” by Gideon M-K; Health Nerd, epidemiologist and writer

If you’ve got a gas stove, and you’re worried about your children’s health (or your own), it’s probably worth investing in a decent extraction fan, or trying to keep the windows open when cooking. At a population level, these findings are important — I would not be surprised to see extractor fans mandated in the future, for example — but at an individual level the risk of gas cooking probably isn’t as bad as you’ve heard in the news.

You Probably Can’t Hire Stripe’s First COO But Soon You’ll Be Able To Read Her Book” by Hunter Walk, venture capitalist at Homebrew

Claire Hughes Johnson joined Stripe in 2014 after a decade at Google. Her management tips are legendary. Now, they’re published.

The Alternative to Performance Reviews for Software Engineers” by Mario Caropreso, engineering manager, in Better Programming

Quantity and quality are usually two of the most common aspects of work that companies try to measure. But while quantity is easier to measure — there is always something that you can count at any stage of your production process — quality is more difficult to assess, as in knowledge work, the production activity is largely mental, hence difficult to observe. This difference usually pushes people to maximise their efforts in the dimension that can be easily measured and lower their focus on the dimension that can’t be easily measured.

Molly Ruby

How ChatGPT Works: The Model Behind the Bot” by Molly Ruby, data scientist, in Towards Data Science

A brief introduction to the intuition and methodology behind the chat bot you can’t stop hearing about.

I Could Not See the Future Coming” by Catherine Dunn in The Wind Phone

Recommended by Ellen Eastwood in a response to our last roundup: “This piece about the challenges of a foster child who slipped through the cracks is the first thing I’ve read from Catherine Dunn, but not the last.”

What We’re Reading” is a roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Found something great? Drop a line in the responses.

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Drawing in pencil for my current painting, ‘The Night Swimmer’. It celebrates the wonders of the sea, and at the same time, it is a plea to keep our oceans and all ocean life protected and clean. Artwork © the author.