rip social media (2004 - 2023)
A look at the incoming social media collapse and trying to figure out why everyone has this one tattoo.
Biden announces reelection bid
Public Sours on Biden-Trump Election Rematch
Biden’s silver lining? More popular than Trump
"Silent vs. Boomer"
Chaser(s). (Also this headline that “Old Beats Crazy” is sending me. AOC’s thoughts on supporting him are quite good too.)
“Dark Brandon” meme explained
I am exhausted by the Brandon cycle, but I do think getting the Brandon shirt would be nice 2023 internet ephemera to have.
Tucker Carlson is out at Fox News
"Tucker Carlson ad boycotts a significant concern"
“Fox News did not want”
More than Biden 2024, the Tucker story was the story of the week. This is going to definitely dominate the year (and election cycle) as the fall out will reach far and wide!
Neil Gorsuch property deal adds scrutiny
Taylor Greene calls Dylan Mulvaney "pedophile"
Ted Cruz outlining plan to challenge 2020 results
More GOP leaders behaving badly.
Facebook users apply for portion of $725 million
If you have or have had a Facebook account, sign up so you can get some cash (even if a little bit). It’s all because of the privacy items from the Cambridge Analytica mess.
Trans Lawmaker Exiled as Montana G.O.P. Flexes Power
Montana TikTokers Caught in Legal Limbo
Montana is having a moment for the-worse. (Also I know intellectually these things aren’t related but curious as Rep. Zooey Zephyr is dating popular queer politics TikToker Erin Reed. It’s like they’re trying to control how young and minority groups connect or something.)
“swastika flags are outside of a drag event“
”the n*zis showed up to drag brunch”
This is absolutely wild.
Paper Magazine Lays Off Staff
There have been so many bad layoff stories, but this is arguably the worst. What’s a magazine without writers? (Which reminds me: I know some laid off people and am curious about opportunities myself, given the precarity of things. If you have any opportunities or hear of anything, send them my way!!)
Time to remove digital paywall
This is big! And a great example of democratizing information, if they can make this work.
Europe’s next crisis: Water
Europe sees hottest April weather on record
Summer is here early and it sucks.
Climate activists have a new target: Civilians
I talked about this a few weeks back but the next frontier of activism is person-to-person or civilian targeting. This effort of flattening tires on cars (Which is so good.) is a great example of that – and we can expect more of this!
Woman at center of Till killing has died
With all due respect: rest in piss, Carolyn.
May may be the perfect month. School is ending, the weather is aggressively pleasant, you can wear white with abandon. What October is to autumn, May is to spring – but the difference is October has a point of view: it’s a month of leaves falling and gentle spooks. But what does May have? Spring? Mothers? Whatever the fuck Memorial Day is?
In these times of capitalizing everything, May poses a problem: what do you do with 31 days that lack concrete meaning? Too leisurely a month, neither problematic or overly favored, there really isn’t anything “to talk about” this month. And yet, chatter has chatted away around May at the hands of social media managers via made-up holidays. Today is the best example: while it’s not even the new month, May 1 eve is the fake, very Facebook, very Millennial “holiday” of It’s Gonna Me May, where people share pictures of Justin Timberlake, the NSYNC song, and generally nostalgic 1990s/2000s content that feels well suited for a simpler, stupider internet of yesterday. Within the week, we also have the Star Wars-themed May The Fourth and Revenge of the Fifth along with Cinco de Mayo, followed by Top Gun Day and Talk Like Yoda Day and National Streaming Day and World Dracula Day later in the month.
The idea of “social media holidays” isn’t new and, arguably, in social media years, is a very old idea that stemmed from brands realizing they could make up holidays to drive conversation. In 2023, when social media feels less cohesive, these “holidays” seem even more ridiculous and more like straightforward advertising. This also points to a larger problem that we have all been feeling since the start of the year: social media as we know it is dead.
Let’s think about this. The 2010s originated how we behave on social media by training people to turn on a television show and Tweet along or turn up to a made-up museum to take Instagram pics. This behavior and this logic means that anyone, anywhere, knows why “going live” drives eyes and that curating a space gets people to take pics. Because everyone “became a brand” in the 2010s that also means everyone became a social media manager, which makes all of social media – from personal posts to brand posts – has become commercialized since we all know how to game the system. A similar thing is happening in television, where everyone knows how the sausage is made, creating a more jaded and disaffected audience. This is why the past few years have seen brands becoming people (and horny ones too): they don’t know how to speak anymore and are throwing anything at the wall (even their balls) in the hopes of being memorable humans instead of capitalist pigs.
But that’s not even working anymore, as the old social playbook has changed for better and worse: without Twitter and Facebook and Instagram dominating conversation, that means people, brands, and celebrities will have to be more specific about where they focus attention – especially as social networks and their algorithms have become impossibly unreliable. Even social media is letting itself go as Twitter and Facebook (and Clubhouse, not that anyone is surprised) are laying off so many. And, if you’re hoping to “make social work,” where would you even begin? You could try the increasingly unreliable Twitter or opt for the too-promo-y, overly-self-serious Notes by Substack. There’s Bluesky for everyone wanting Twitter but not having Twitter and the upcoming Posts for the more tech-savvy (not to be confused with Post, for the news-driven). Mastodon, Discord, and Reddit are for the more-specific and nerdier while TikTok is for the young. And there’s more and more too. So where do you begin then? A lot of people are wondering this and, asnoted this week, “it’s wearing me down.” The feeling of greater social networks is that it’s all going to collapse because it’s too exhausting, proving how the internet isn’t fun anymore.
Yet the joy is the diversity, that there will become a social site called Dogly where you just share dog pictures. And that’s lovely. It feels like the internet of the 1990s! But when you have to deal with Apple’s Dogly trying to sell you Airtags for your puppy? There joy disappears. We’re hitting a hard refresh on social at this moment, to redefine online communication. We could create something special! Or further kill a good thing, making every platform a space for social holidays and sales opportunities. The solution would to allow more space for humans to be humans.
Restaurants Rethink Gender’s Role in Service
My dear friend Rax was nominated for a James Beard award for this story from last year!! Read it again and celebrate them!!!
'Red Table Talk’ canceled, Facebook Watch shuts down
This is the end of an era, less for Red Table Talk (They’ll find a new home just fine.), but for the larger social media pivot-to-video ecosystem. Again: social media is dying!
Sifan Hassan Wins London Marathon
"Sifan Hassan’s remarkable marathon"
I love this (very chaotic) first time marathon winner.
The ‘Lebron James of Incels’ Gets Laid
I want to make sure everyone is aware of the “Incel Civil War” because one of their leaders became not-an-incel (Had sex.) and now people are turning on him. As he said, “we’re not Jedi.” Incredible.
Grimes invites people to use her voice in AI songs
"The artificial intelligence backlash"
I think the Grimes item is great and the second item is a hyperbolic blue check dude sci-fi fantasy.
Venus as ‘influencer’ faces widespread ridicule
These ads are so bad but calling them “humiliating” is wild. It’s not that deep!
Dwyane Wade left Florida
"#MiamiHeat star criticized Florida politicians"
Dwayne Wade opening up about leaving Florida to protect his family is just great. Meatball Ron’s attempt at “Woke Wars” are starting to backfire.
Introducing Wood Milk
Aubrey Plaza has ostensibly joined the milk lobby, which is an interesting move, all because non-dairy milks are now technically milk. The industry big mad!
Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig Did a Kenjuring
Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell Dating Rumors
"too perfectly orchestrated"
This week in meme relations strategies! Time will tell if the Glendney efforts work.
"they were used as lab rats"
This popular acne medication carries a disturbing legacy
This week I learned how retinol was created by experimenting on Black prisoners. Now you know too.
"Love ya ❤️❤️"
While Dylan Mulvaney is too theater kid for me, I do think it’s valuable to watch her recent response to all the hate directed at her. It’s quite nice! If you want to stare into the abyss – which you should, for a dose of reality – read the (non-supportive) comments. A lot of ugliness!
My Spanish teacher has a butterfly tattoo. It was only visible when she wore a cardigan as a top, the buttons coming together at the sternum, revealing a tiny butterfly between the breasts. The lines are delicate, surprising as it’s no bigger than a thumbprint. It must have hurt.
The drag queen Anetra came in second place in this season of Drag Race. She was one of the most memorable queens of the season because of her lip-sync acrobatics and an infectious, now-legendary song about “walking that fucking duck.” She also is known for having a giant butterfly tattoo over the top of her chest. As has been pointed out, Daya Betty from season fourteen of Drag Race also has a butterfly tattoo at the top of her chest.
My TikTok served me a video of a gay boy looking for a “top who likes Björk” recently. While funny, the eye is drawn to a tattoo at the top of his pecks, a statement piece in the space where black tank top doesn’t cover: a butterfly. Looking around the platform, there are many, many, many, many, many, many, many who also have the same butterfly tattoo. They come in different sizes and different styles – but the placement? Always in the sternum.
I remember that I have seen this before, remembering that Harry Styles has one just over the sternum. He got the tattoo in 2013 and, while the reasoning isn’t certain, the obvious assumption is it represents the artist’s transformation. Perhaps these things are related? After all: he’s inspired people to knit sweaters and wear cutesy lil strawberry things.
But Harry didn’t “invent” the butterfly, nor did he originate it as a metaphor for metamorphosis. In music, Mariah Carey has long been a butterfly lover, using the creature to express her becoming something. Y2K style may also be to blame as the butterfly as an accessory to the barbiecore, building off big and small butterfly clips and butterfly tops. Maybe the butterfly is the current “it” animal, taking on the title from owls and llamas and sloths and unicorns.
In 2021, birds captured our attention as we all felt caged. Now, newly hatched from our cocoons, we have space to fly – but we know our time is limited, that we must make statements of mortality with our chests, our hearts. We are beautiful now, they say, we are present, but that is going to end. We are at the peak of our lifecycle but, at some point, we will be coming down. Yes, we all eventually float back down to the warm earth but sadly we’ll never fly again.
Or maybe it’s just a pretty thing to get tattooed? I will have to ask my Spanish teacher I guess.
Even though I am 99% sure Hasbulla is subtly pushing pro-Russia sentiment, I love that little man.
french fries may be linked to depression
"give me the fucking potatoes"
Y’all need to let people have they damn fries.
"everyday items into designed, beautiful “objects”"
"my electric flosser"
This electric flosser showed up on my feed recently and I was like “oooo” but also: everything is now an object and I’m over it. Stop trying to make everything a sale!! We have enough shit on this fucking planet!
I am going to predict that lemon popcorn is going to blow up this week.
"this is millennial core"
This is…so very Millennial, which I think was Nick Jonas “trying” to be ironic but failing.
"what a day"
“the green M&M”
”Tucker carrying out his things”
The best Tucker/Green M&M memes. (Lots more memes where this came from too.)
"Let's make America glam again."
The GOP-as-AI-drag-queens post is maybe the best and the worst thing I have ever seen and you will have to suffer through this too.
“how the english department feels”
Both in undergrad and grad programs, I can tell you this is true.
"there is 22 years"
“every monday i get that notification”
Two posts about kids that I liked.
"campus wide email after a traumitizing event"
I feel like this is me and everyone I know in the face of looming layoffs and greater economic precarity.
"john travolta in 2007"
What an accurate depiction of Travolta as Edna in Hairspray.
"you're 90 years old with dementia"
”my dad had dementia”
But literally: there will be so many old people babbling TikTok audio in sixty years, as the second TikTok shows.
“tequila hit grandma”
They really said “fuck you, grandma.” (One of the comments described this as “tequila zoomies” and that made me laugh until I cried.)
And, finally, me immediately after sending this newsletter every week.
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do you believe this death will make way for some sort of transfiguration of media? like a media rebirth story over the next decade?
i like to think that wherever it’s headed, its either way more of this (everything is for sale) or more toward decentralization/specialization that will give rise to communication where you are currently and maybe media hosted elsewhere and pulled into the conversation vs pushed.
i think of this like communities choosing local over global superstores. local shops vary big brands but offer a more bespoke experience and a way to build relationships.
i might be way over simplifying but those are my thoughts. this is also coming from someone who prefers comment/conversation heavy media platforms with some anonymity like reddit.
I’m afraid this will not be a good week for you.