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Welcome to the May issue of Vox’s The Highlight

Raj Chetty and the rise of woke economics, life after going viral, and more.

Harvard economist Raj Chetty stands in front of the home of the Department of Economics, on Harvard University’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Harvard economist Raj Chetty
Kayana Szymczak for Vox

Raj Chetty, an economist and professor, has a plan to radically change how we think about economics. And for him, it all starts with Econ 101 — oftentimes the only exposure students have to the field of economics — and the dominant school that ignores that free markets often fail. Chetty, who teaches intro course Econ 1152 at Harvard, focuses on empiricism and the idea of economics as a tool to fix social problems rather than the traditional emphasis on supply and demand. This month’s cover story explores how this course has the potential to shift the next generation’s approach to economics.

Also in this issue, Vox’s TV critic Emily VanDerWerff handpicks the 25 most influential TV episodes, without which we wouldn’t have today’s golden age of television. We also explore the history of electroconvulsion therapy with this personal story about the treatment’s success and how it is viewed with suspicion today.

Finally, we look at how social media continues to shape our world, starting with an interview with media studies Kate Eichhorn on how the internet prevents us from distancing ourselves from our past actions. We also check in with early 2000s internet phenomenon “David After Dentist” to see how going viral impacted his life in an era before kid influencers became the norm.

Read on:

The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics

Raj Chetty has an idea for introducing students to econ that could transform the field — and society.

by Dylan Matthews

The 25 episodes that changed television

From a pregnancy on I Love Lucy to a beheading on Game of Thrones.

by Emily Todd VanDerWerff

Christina Animashaun/Vox

My great-grandmother’s struggle with mental illness — and the therapy that saved her life

Electroconvulsive therapy can help people with severe depression. But it has a controversial past.

by Alexia Underwood

Zac Freeland/Vox

The end of forgetting

How social media makes it impossible to escape the past.

by Sean Illing

An illustration of the “David After Dentist” video, showing a boy loopy from taking medicine and a silhouette of him as a teenager. Javier Zarracina/Vox

The kid from “David After Dentist” is headed to college

Here’s how going viral changed his life.

by Zoe Schiffer

The Highlight

Native American histories show rebuilding is possible — and necessary — after catastrophe

The Highlight

How will we feed Earth’s rising population? Ask the Dutch.

The Highlight

Why the news is so negative — and what we can do about it

View all stories in The Highlight