BREAKING: big business bursts 💥
Exploring how this week may go down as the last breath of modern corporations, tech, and big business, along with some musings of how so much of the world has become a sad tourist trap.
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Trump does not have presidential immunity
Supreme Court hears Trump case
“This was a riot.”
“There will be disqualification proceedings.”
“this argument did not go well”
Wouldn’t it be great if…this was the end of the saga? The Supreme Court tapes are the maybe the best show of the week.
2024 Begins With Record Heat Worldwide
I can confirm. It sucks! The summer is going to be hell.
Chinese migrants cross southern border
An interesting development.
Pope: 'hypocrisy' in criticising LGBT blessings
CNN’s New Strategy: More News, Less Banter
This would be huge, if it actually happens. It would be like MTV bringing back music videos!
The tech boom is over.
The bubble has burst, the era has ended, the party is over: whatever you want to call it, this was the week where there was a collective realization that the promises of big tech — and corporate dream jobs and upward mobility and other, similar ideas — no longer existed. Has the internet and social media reimagined what life can be? Yes. There is no denying that technology has shifted the paradigm; but what this week and this time is about is a shift from a boom in emerging technologies to the realization that we’ve hit a ceiling, that this is as good as it gets. Yeah, blah blah AI blah blah Neuralink blah blah foldable phone tin car clear tv pills for poop: there are many gadgets but not enough technology anymore.
Rewind to a Report™ from two years ago and you’ll see how this relates to super norms, that there are only so many innovations that can happen to a product. Jobs and social media, while different, are the same: there are only so many ways you can innovate before something is no longer be novel. That’s the problem. But I digress: let’s look at the cadaver and conduct an autopsy.
Symptom 1: Corporate Floppitude. Between 2023 and 2024, the death rattles became clear as a quarter of a million people (Plus!) were laid off in tech. This has inspired a very obvious conversation that the tech jobs that were once sacred are no longer worth it: story after story after story after story detail this loss of sex appeal due to volatility, a sentiment that, again, has been brewing for two years. It’s not just tech but all big brands: Nike is slumping, the luxury world is struggling as brands like North Face and Vans feel it too, Bud Light was overtaken by Modelo while big spirits sales fall, and car sales are expected to slow as Tesla has already faced such problems. The vibe now is so not corporate because the corporations promise workers salvation from the shit that is life these days only to fuck us over with stale cookies to celebrate billions in sales. If we’re looking for canaries and coal mines, look to Starbucks and McDonald’s who have become obvious targets for our ire given their handling of Israel-Palestine (not to mention things like union busting). The elephant in the room is community, small business, and alternative means of getting what you need: the era of corporate cool is over and we must unplug from their systems because they reek of shit, exploitation, and danger.
Symptom 2: The Villains In The Room With Us. Lest we forget that the people behind these big businesses shifted from inspiring CEO leaders to idiots running amok in private jets. People are foaming at the mouth to eat the rich because all these people we work for, who control everything around us, are increasingly killing us, literally and figuratively. A long blooming trend is that the upper and upper upper upper class are supremely selfish: this has been talked about and talked about, now and then. Look at Donald Trump who made the poor poorer, while making them feel beloved: such is the relationship between the people and the rich, a new, disgusting class of royals whom we cannot escape. The rich and privileged are no longer well-meaning philanthropists who aspire to create a better world. No, no: they’re now greedily driving up costs, profiting off drugs that kill people, stealing up land, manipulating politics, eschewing environmental care, and engaging in other all-for-me activities that are ruining the world as they build elitist escape plans. They’re ruining present and future — and we’re effectively helpless, as local and global politics enable this. Watch any TikTok or viral video about someone getting laid off and you‘ll see just how little these “leaders” of the world care. Their time is decidedly over.
Symptom 3: Terminal Creation Without Innovation. The aforementioned wouldn’t be as awful if the products of said corporations and billionaires were actually good. Some examples beyond the obvious “all products are worse now,” most of which are best exemplified by Hollywood: Disney’s Bob Iger announced new movies and (an obvious, long-overdue) Fortnite deal which left fans underwhelmed given the rash of sequelitis (Moana 2, Toy Story 5, Frozen 3, Inside Out 2) built on Marvel fatigue; not to be outdone, WB’s already derivative Coyote Vs. Acme is likely getting literally deleted and never released after being completely completed because executives skipped a screening while HBO is moving forward with a yet another Game of Thrones prequel; despite sales and going viral, the biggest takeaway from Apple’s big Vision Pro swing is people aren’t entirely sure what they bought; the reviews of AI continue to be disappointing and disappointing and disappointing — but they have enabled the layoffs; and then there’s the collapse of music, due to Conde Nast’s devaluation of Pitchfork and UMG’s removing music from TikTok. The people, the users, the customers aren’t even benefitting anymore! We the people are devalued and ignored, as the rich and businesses think we’ll blithely continue to support them. PSSSH. You’ve even lost nepo baby queen Dakota Johnson (“The people who run streaming platforms don’t trust creative people or artists to know what’s going to work.”) and Hollywood new guard queen maker Issa Rae (“These conglomerate leaders are also making the decisions about Hollywood. Y’all aren’t creative people. Stick to the money.”). If you can’t convince your highest ranks, you got it bad.
Symptom 4: The Great Dissolution of Everything. This all creates an atmosphere of enshittification, which is having a moment right now as everyone is feeling that big tech has painted itself into a corner as there is a lack of leadership and lack of utility or novelty. Then there’s the fact that tech killed all media without offering proper replacements, as algorithms continue to make us bland ass people. Platforms are shuffling between identities now too: Instagram is now Millennial Facebook; Facebook is an old brain rotted nightmare; YouTube became the television; TikTok is now Instagram meets QVC; but everything wants to be each other, as we all theorize. (And all the wannabes? Niche nothings, as the moment for such “disruption” has passed, despite what Casey Newton tells you.) This is the most telling state of the enshittified union: not only are we sad but the husks of culture, of innovation, of life that we’re left with is supremely underwhelming yet — somehow — stressful. If the products were good? Or if they weren’t trying so hard? Maybe this would be a non-issue. No one cares about an app mascot trying to be sexy when you’re laying off people because of AI.
All this ladders back to desperation driven by greed. I feel like every other week we talk about the great dissolution of contemporary culture — it’s why we have a culture of laziness, it’s why no one has personality anymore, it’s why kids today are awful, it’s why we’re all tired of tech — which is all driven by technology giving us cake after cake after cake to the point that we are nearing spiritual, intellectual, and cultural death before physical death, as we reach for that next slice that they trained us to want. Now we’re at a breaking point: the institutions are dissolving as we dissolve. Their cultures are as bruised as their products. It took nearly thirty years to build what corporations have and, in just a handful of years, everything is falling to ruin — and dragging us down with it. Have we had enough?
The sweet life of DINKs
DINKs are the aspirational adult of today, a la the 21st century yuppie. As they should be!
Taco Bell Held An E3-Like Event
See the above essay: we are seconds away from company public keynotes being over. This is so indulgent yet deeply vacuous, and I’m hoping more of these get taken over by protesters.
Guy Used ChatGPT to Met Wife
I want to believe this man actually talked to 5K women with AI but I simply don’t believe it.
Dakota Johnson: Hollywood 'Is F—ing Bleak'
“THANK GOD FOR NEPOTISM”
“I was there for two weeks”
“so fucking funny”
“deserves an Oscar”
Dakota is my queen. Like. If you’re going to be a nepo baby, at least do your part to dismantle the units of power and call out the industry. What an icon who has inspired great memes. Another Hollywood-on-Hollywood trending convo this weekend: Tina Fey on Las Culturistas.
"Taylor walks up"
“Am I overreacting”
“Would Taylor Swift’s lawyers”
“nothing but mini Taylor Swift”
This was a wild week for Taylor: all of TikTok and many of her fans realized after the Grammys that she’s a brat. Receipts above — and she needs to get her shit together as she needs to help divert American electoral disaster.
I love the new
no old person is named "Kyle"
This week paid subscribers got a cute little essay about on names and how Kyle MacLachlan is the oldest Kyle on earth.
Matter and Shape
This cute lil design festival is happening in Paris in the beginning of March — and
To the tech boom being over, there’s a curious side–effect that I’ve experienced living in Europe: local culture is dying — fast.
This is neither “Small towns are disappearing!” nor is it “Every city is the same!” but it’s not not those things: it’s a more complicated book-places-online, buy-cheap-travel-online, post-Groupon culture that replaces local life with tourism and tourism businesses. This creates cultural droughts, that such devastatingly beautiful locations are now a cacophony of French tourists and British vacationers and groups from Scandinavia and China and the States all vying for the same three restaurants and historic sites. This is complicated by post-influencer “I went here.” culture, where people go places for the ‘gram, travelling just to travel, which makes the act of going anywhere feel increasingly useless. A casual look on TikTok will show what this looks like: this most commonly happens in Europe — Athens, Positano, the French Riviera, Amsterdam, Barcelona — but also appears in many destinations like Kyoto, Maya Bay, Big Bear, Oahu, and various Chinese cities. This is what happens when travel media meets cheapening travel meets FOMO meets viral locations meets the limitations of infrastructure. No wonder there’s now a slightly disturbing trend of people going out at ungodly early hours to explore cities before the city wakes.
We discussed the ethics of vacations in these times but what conversations about overtourism miss (and there are lots and lots and lots of conversations on this subject, along with the environmental ruin of locations like Patagonia, Mount Fuji, Antarctica, and the Alps) is that a cultural bleaching is occurring. It has to do with smaller places being overrun by outsiders, which plays out in local languages being suffocated by a need to speak English because modern tourists can’t be bothered to learn. Like us and our algorithmic infused blandness, entire cities are becoming bland malls. Too many people queuing up, art museums are full of things we saw online, sites for selfies, eating where everyone else eats: it’s all painfully boring in practice, which makes these places painfully boring too, even if we feel like a main character in the moment. The more people who come, the less of a life a place has — and the people will always come because to be modern is to be selfishly obsessed with leisure. Thus, what happens while we’re in between vacations is that foreign locations are experiencing the “Why do all the buildings look the same?” phenomena: these quaint international towns we long to escape to redesign themselves with vacationers in mind instead of developing itself. That’s how we end up with a McDonald’s at the Vatican, Samsung ads on cathedrals, and Starbucks in a centuries old building. Everything becomes the American suburbs because that’s truly what we want while visiting the Amalfi coast or Tokyo.
It’s also a simple matter of infrastructures: yes, just as many tourists visit NYC and LA and London and Paris — but those cities are already big, where busyness is less noticed and it’s easier to find pockets to enjoy. In small places like, say, Sedona, Arizona everything gets choked — and the local charm (a la, the locals who live there) get forced out and we’re left with a physical culture vacuum. Such is the great touristification of Europe — and the world. The good days of travel and discovery are over, replaced with traffic jams and faded beauties that have mediocre Google reviews. Que horror.
“a pop girls fourth single”
We, as gay people, get to choose our pop stars.
“Racism is banned or not.”
The only content related to the Super Bowl that I care about.
“a funny and mean read”
One of the best essays I read this week. (It’s a TikTok.)
“sexiest guys ever”
Maybe glasses technology in the 1960s were really bad? Them Beatles were busted.
Jackie Kennedy memes continue to be the best.
“I live in Great Britain”
Best song of the week.
“meme in the family group chat”
This is a great meme and your family is full of losers.
I gotta see this person’s ass. What a unit.
“weed out weak followers”
I too am posting this to weed out weaklings.
And, finally, me looking at my inbox and all the links I have saved.