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The Trend Report™: Forever Young
Examining post-growth economies and the kid-ification of adults.
Record methane leak flows from damaged Baltic Sea pipelines
"The city may well be entirely uninhabitable for weeks, if not months"
This week in disasters, the first of which is not a climate disaster.
"Bitcoin mining climate damages were higher than gas power generation"
Speaking of climate disasters, I have a feeling conversations about how awful mining bitcoin is for the environment is going to pick up.
UK Royals Force News Sites to Delete Embarrassing Video Clips
Seems like the dolls are desperate to stay relevant.
"What’s going on with the UK economy right now? "
Speaking of England, here’s why the pound is so bad right now. This somehow feels tied to conservatism, given that moves are being made for less taxes – and it’s fucking things up.
Italy election results set up first far-right government since Mussolini
Why Italy’s ‘red belt’ unbuckled
'Very real fears' for LGBT community after far-right win in Italy
If you haven’t heard, the right wing wave in Europe continues this week, claiming Italy. This is clearly an international trend, of the left and progressives isolating the needy which in turn forces populations to vote for fascist-adjacent groups. We’ll see which European country falls prey to this next (or who will break the cycle).
Swiss reject initiative to ban factory farming
Again, something interesting is brewing in Europe, which is related to and not-related-to the right-wing growth. This is less about animal rights and more about work rights, which ties back to Italy’s red belt.
Meta's Toxic Algorithm 'Substantially Contributed' to Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar
This is one of the most foul, fucked up things I’ve read in a bit.
After Putin: 12 people ready to ruin Russia next
I don’t mean to worry you but this list is bad, save for the two non-Oligarchs.
Trump Saw Staffers of Color at White House, Assumed They Were Waiters
Trump says Mitch McConnell has a 'death wish'
Um. (This is unrelated but Elaine Chao is one of the most fascinating political figures, similar but very different from someone like Ginny Thomas.)
How to get a student loan refund if you paid during pandemic
Did you pay your student loans during the pandemic? I did! And apparently people who didn’t defer in the past few years can get a refund. Love that for us!
“it isn’t the driver in the two ton vehicle who is at fault”
"What’s more dangerous, going to drag shows or GUNS?"
These two posts capture a lot of problems about America so succinctly!
NASA crashed into an asteroid to test planetary defense
"NASA’s DART spacecraft is expected to collide with an asteroid"
I mentioned this last week and it was a mini-moment on Twitter! It was a success, in that the “dart” did hit the asteroid, but we won’t know if it helped divert the course of the asteroid for months. Stay tuned!
Syphilis cases are surging. Should I be worried?
Another week, another viral threat.
I watched a TikTok this week of a young woman wearing glasses, staring into camera, the words “me finding out i have stage 4 cancer.” displayed over her face. The camera pushes into her, turning into an edit, revealing her without glasses and with a new set of words over the face: “going to work the next day.”
There’s a lot going on here, as it peeks into many American things: a lack of understanding or direction in personal tragedy, perhaps due to communities or because it feels right to “post through” such circumstances; going to work instead of caring for yourself, either because of financial need or lack of adequate healthcare, the two of which are potentially related; the creator using this style of video as a schtick, crafting a brand around having cancer but still doing things; the idea that modern society is so disconnected and isolated by design, that such life-altering – And potentially life-ending! – information doesn’t have space to be shared; all there is to do in modern life is work and, even as we face death, work still persists.
Why is this? We know the answer is capitalism – and the cornerstone of capitalism is growth. If there’s anything this decade has made clear, it’s that we are living in climate disaster and the “end of the world,” but we are still going to work the next day, living in times of great economic growth. Last year, we saw this as the Great Resignation (a la: “no one wants to work”) paired with the “lying down” movement and, this year, we’re seeing this as the realization that the growth economy is toxic. Some initial inklings of this new trend was felt over the summer but now seems that we have a flag in the sand, where the post-growth economy is gaining traction.
A big turning of the dial comes from the World Economic Forum interviewing Tariq Al-Olaimy, a think-tank type working in sustainability and youth education policy, who focuses on the Middle East. There’s a lot of deep thinking on how the world works here – on how humans are awful collaborators with nature, on how the global south and Indigenous cultures could pave the way to remedying our climate failures – but this moment stuck out to me as capturing this feeling of economic ennui.
There is economic growth, and there is uneconomic growth. The question we should ask is, which aspects of the economy aren't serving us any longer? While some industries support human flourishing, like education and healthcare, other aspects of the economy, like fast fashion and military missions, can no longer be permitted to grow exponentially. If we are to exponentially scale a global GDP growth at just 2% per year for the next 100 years, there simply won't be enough raw materials and human communities to sustain such growth for the next century.
This is all underscored by the realization that there is just so much stuff and it makes not-a-lot-of-sense. There is an absurdity present in our current world, one that seems to be possessing and strangling how modern governments and countries exist: use resources until there are no more, push yourself to the edge until you die, even if you recognize the death but must force yourself to continue. Why live when you can work?
That’s the tie between this bittersweet TikTok and the post-growth economy: we’re all so willingly pretending that everything is disposable and everything is renewable. No real change is actually occurring. Calling out super (and climate) capitalists like Bill Gates out to his face helps – but that is just a bit of lemon zest on the shit cake we’ve over-baked together, considering this year’s United Nations’ climate conference is sponsored by Coca-Cola.
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The Creepy Smiling People At Baseball Games
This story was everywhere but I think…it’s the rare form of word-of-mouth marketing that almost never happens anymore! It’s great.
James Patterson donates $5.3M to Howard University, PEN
James Patterson is a moron but this is a nice move.
Six-Figure Artworks, by a Fifth Grader
First, this kid’s work sucks and you have to be really dumb to pay hundreds of thousands on this baby Kenny Scharf-Koons New York City bullshit. Second, you cannot say his parents — a jewelry designer and lawyer/athlete manager — did “nothing” to help his career when they hired Nadine Johnson for a time, who is one of the biggest names in art industry PR. Stop it.
Why Burberry Changed Designers
The ousting of Ricardo Tisci from Burberry represents a big end-of-an-era, where aughts kings like Hedi Slimane are officially out of style. I never liked either of these two’s work (Too boring! No color!!), which seems to emphasize Gen Z’s grip on style with color and maximalism.
SAG-AFTRA To Pursue Pay For Auditions
Fran Drescher's call to review vaccine mandates sparks debate
Two Hollywood related items. First, something to help working actors in an industry where there is no justice, help, compassion, or mercy. Second – as if to undercut the first item – an initiative by SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher to end Covid protocols based on…quack science.
“NOBODY HAS EVER HEARD THIS FAMOUS CRYSTAL FLUTE BEFORE”
How Lizzo came to play James Madison's crystal flute on a D.C. stage
The feel-good story of the week. The backstory behind it and how Lizzo came to play and practice it is just great! (That said: here’s the best take on this.)
"A wedding for two frogs in the hope of bringing rain"
I believe in these two frogs and that they will heal the world from climate change.
“English words that come from the Chinese”
I love this TikTok creator, and this video actually taught me a few things!
A few things happened in recent days that are not connected – but I see a through line. Do you?
YouTube-via-Buzzfeed creators The Try Guys were at the center of news and social this week due to a cheating scandal, resulting in member Ned Fulmer being kicked out for a consensual relationship with one of their producers.
A TikTok about a woman and her human-sized dog bed has gone viral.
McDonald’s is planning to release “adult Happy Meals” this October. "We're taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald's experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that's hyper-relevant for our adult fans," their CMO said.
Do you see what I see? Something that seems to be dominating (mainstream) (American) (Millennial) (online) culture is the kid-ification of adulthood. All these stories ostensibly are about different things – Adultery! Game shows! Career! Fashion! – but somehow center the uncomplicated and childish. The latter examples are obvious, like the adult Happy Meal, but something about Tyler Oakley returning to YouTube to say he’s playing Stardew Valley on Twitch feels like a declaration that he’s embracing his inner child, playing video games as you watch because “it’s fun.” Am I all for the fun? Yes. Would I love to just play games all day? Of course! But there’s a simplicity and anti-complication to the move that seems to place the move in parallel to childhood. Just play your little games and mom will bring you your Happy Meal for dinner!
Then there’s The Try Guys thing. What’s so interesting and bizarre is that nothing “bad” seemingly happened: he cheated on his wife and had a consensual relationship with a coworker. Sure, that’s bad – but that’s also that’s life. People fuck around! People have sex! People are messy! The “drama” of it, the kicking him out and acting as if The Try Guys is a celibate monastery, a Disney-fied brand of non-complicated, non-sexualized fun, suggests a lack of sophistication or deep thinking about the subject by both audience and makers. Maybe adulterer isn’t in The Try Guys brand and that was why they had to cut him out – but it all feels overblown, immature, and absurd, as if we all had to witness the popular kids in a niche high school clique fight in the middle of the cafeteria.
This week was unique, yes, but traces of this kid-ification are all around, from the success of Funko Pop to manic post-childhood fashion creators like @saracampz to Mexican Pizza: The Musical to serious and joking adult swaddling to jelly soaps for adults to the rise in the “kidult” market. We’re in the peak kid-ification time of year, as we enter October, a month and season and “holiday” that has grown exponentially, becoming a Gen Z and Millennial obsession, all based in candy eating and costume wearing. This isn’t to rain on a parade but to hold up a mirror, to show that this is our adulthood. Will this make it easier or harder when we’re faced with legitimate adult items in our lives? What does this have to say about our relationship to our parents? To responsibilities? To the world?
I joke with Bobby and friends sometimes that we’re living the lives of very fortunate little boys, that we have every video game we could ever want and we can eat hamburgers every night. While I mean this as a joke, it’s very entirely a Millennial (and maybe Gen Z) “thing” to live your adult life as if childless Peter Pans, who just want to hear poop jokes and drink cocktails out of cans while eating whatever junk we want. When do we grow up again? From the looks of culture, it sounds like never.
“rihanna looking up her lyrics”
“rihanna leaving the super bowl”
"Rihanna giving the football players a makeover"
“Rihanna at the Super Bowl”
“having a child expensive”
If you didn’t hear, Rihanna is performing at the next Super Bowl. This inspired some incredible memes because…she doesn’t sing anymore! She just sells Fenty!
"What are my fines?"
Speaking of football, I love this local library TikTok.
“my everyday routine”
“husband back early from business trip”
“my everyday routine”
I love these parodies of those very unique-to-TikTok Japanese videos of people’s wild daily routine product parades. These Americanized versions speak to the mania of American life in a very subtle way too. (This is an emerging TikTok trend too.)
"Let's not forget our amazing teachers!"
This TikTok of teachers doing cheer dances went mega viral and it fills me with both nostalgia and extreme warmth.
“What it’s like dating men”
Madonna’s TikTok continues to be a series of poorly acted horror mini-movies.
"first day of crisp autumn air hits"
Fall is just a perfect season.
"young Elizabeth lowkey looks a little like"
The only Queen related content that you need to see this week.
“unhinged from the start”
Always love to learn of a new hack or two!
“THE WHO OF THE WHAT??”
This post will give you brain damage.
And, finally, me reminding you about life.