Help Me Decide What to Share


Yesterday, I shared the story of Pia Farrenkopf, a woman in her mid-40s who died very much alone in 2009, If you haven’t read the story yet, I’ll try not to spoil it here, but no promises. As I noted in the italic blurb at the top of the email, I was divided on whether I should share it — it’s a very sad story that is notable because of how rare the circumstances of her death were, which is also what makes it so sad. I don’t know if it meets the standard of “trivia” that I typically aim for, and sharing it felt a little voyeuristic on my part. On the other hand, it “strange but true” requirement for most of my stories — it leaped over that hurdle with ease.

But that’s not why I decided to share it.

I’ve found in recent weeks — maybe months, even — that I’ve been reluctant to share stories that are sad, gory, etc. I don’t know why, but there are definitely a handful of stories I haven’t written up and sent to you all because, frankly, they’re downers (or worse). There are a few stories like Pia’s that I’ve shared in the past — why not do so again? What is holding me back?

I don’t know, but part of me wondered if sharing the story is inappropriate for you. Now I Know is a diversion from your life, and I don’t want to make your day sad and, by extension, worse. I want to make your days better! But it’s still an interesting (albeit not “fun”) story — that’s what you signed up for, right? I could see it either way.

At this point, I was surely overthinking things. So I figured I’d be bold and share it, and see if you all hated it. I got a few emails back about the story and almost all of them said that they appreciated that I decided to share it, which is good, but it’s also not a representative sample. I encourage you to reply to this email to share your thoughts. But let’s also make it easy — and let’s put it to a vote. Here’s a poll, if you don’t mind.

(If you’re viewing this on my website and not in your inbox, the poll won’t work. Sorry.)

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

The Now I Know Week In Review

Monday: Stars and Stripes and Run For Your Lives: I love this fact and I’ll never be able to hear the song again without thinking of it.

Tuesday: Gone in Sixty Seconds: A prison escape, kind of.

Wednesday: Why It May Be Okay to Drop Beavers from Airplanes: Apparently, there’s a children’s book about this! I had no idea.

Thursday: The Mystery of Pia Farrenkopf: See above.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

  1. Mayday” (The Atavist, 56 minutes, January 2024). The subhead: “The race to find four children who survived a plane crash deep in the Amazon.” This story is long, but worth it.
  2. Why You Should Let Your Grass Grow” (Washington Post, 7 minutes, May 2024). The original headline I saw was “What actually happens within your lawn when you don’t mow it,” and I think that’s a better headline — this visual-heavy piece has a lot of advocacy behind it, but the science is much more interesting than the argument.
  3. The Creator Of ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Knows Exactly Where It All Went Wrong” (Defector, 20 minutes, May 2024). If you’ve never heard of Magic: the Gathering, this may not make a lot of sense to you. But if you have — and I played a lot in college, which was a lifetime ago — this is quite the story. Richard Garfield, the man who created the game and is considered a god in that world, isn’t a fan of what he made, and here’s why.

Have a great weekend!