Cool, you have a great variety there:
*Hyenas -- I prefer mongeese myself, but I love a good spotted animal and have an ocicat
*Network theory -- how can you not love it, haha. One of my favorite topics from my bioinformatics background (including my 1 year at Columbia)
*Depolarizing politics -- obviously, right?
I can definitely see the social life aspect as well. I try to get some of that with networking with writers online. You're absolutely right that grinding for the massive following can be less fun, I think.
On shortform pieces, Medium nuked them by making them an extra click, right after promoting them as "the cool new thing." Stuff like that makes me laugh, especially because it's so majoring in the minors -- the top stories on Medium make $100+ a month (and many >$1000), but most make <$1. So why isn't Medium promoting tips for writing stories that would make a lot of money? I still like the format, but there's no money there -- and never will be, since money is based on read time.