Rookie magazine was a sensitive, imaginative online publication for teenagers that launched in 2011. It ran everything from dreamy, nostalgic fashion editorials, to teenage diary entries, to practical how-to guides written by adults. Its founder and editor, Tavi Gevinson, closed the site in 2018. “Rookie was for teenagers, and by that point I was no longer a teenager,” Gevinson, now 24, explains. But in the spring of 2020 she was stuck at home, relying on the internet for human connection. “It felt like being a teenager again: being grounded and intensely bored and waiting for life to begin, and, frankly, depressed.” So she resurrected the Rookie brand with a new podcast, Life Skills.
This eight-episode series is aimed specifically at former Rookie readers (young people who are no longer teenagers, but are probably somewhere in their early twenties, experiencing all the uncertainty that age entails) and hosted by a variety of former Rookie contributors, who attempt to offer step-by-step answers to life’s biggest and scariest questions. Episodes include “How to be Good at Talking to People”, “How to Embrace Conflict”, “How to Stand up to Your Inner Critic” and “How to be Creative if You’re Scared”. Often borrowing from activist thinking, they are essentially mini self-help lectures: informal but scripted, with bullet points, rhetorical questions and thought exercises.
Perhaps the most considered and universally relevant of the series is Dylan Tupper Rupert’s “How to Manage Uncertainty”, which explores how the climate crisis, the pandemic and rising political tensions can make us feel on the verge of “societal collapse”. A self-confessed obsessive consumer of “climate doomer culture”, Rupert, alongside the climate psychiatrist Alex Trope, considers how human beings might exist in such incredibly stressful – but never totally “unprecedented” – contexts without giving in to blind optimism or cynical fatalism, which she calls types of “fake certainty”. In times of major upheaval and fear, we often seek out ways to be in control as a coping mechanism, but Rupert argues these are ultimately unhelpful, and offers “values to live by” instead.
Life Skills by Rookie
This article appears in the 27 Jan 2021 issue of the New Statesman, The Lost