Discover more from The Trend Report™
The Trend Report™: Money Medium
Exploring money as the main character in content and a taxonomy of creators.
How a Festive Stroll Over a Historic Bridge Turned to Carnage in India
"it emerged the state gov't gave a renovation contract to a watchmaking company"
A look at how infrastructure failures led to the recent tragedy during Diwali – and how the government enabled this.
Plastic recycling is a ‘myth,’ study says
Sigh. Stop using single-use plastics!!
Brazil’s Lula to reclaim presidency after beating Bolsonaro
Lula's team meets Bolsonaro as Brazil's transition kicks off
In case you missed this major story! This is a huge win for both people and the environment, despite Bolsonaro refusing to accept defeat just yet.
Trump eyes Nov. 14 announcement for 2024 presidential run
It’s going to be an exhausting two years.
Twitter cancels its Chirp conference
Inside Elon Musk’s ‘Sincere’ 45-Minute Zoom on Hate Speech
Twitter working on “paid DMs”
Pay $8 to get blue tick on Twitter: Elon Musk
“if you care about data privacy this should scare you”
Twitter Sued for Mass Layoffs by Elon Musk Without Enough Notice
“PAY ATTENTION TO THE ACCESSIBILITY TEAM”
A round-up of theories, madnesses, and other ideas of what’s to come (or not) for Twitter. Expect to pay for odd things and “freedom of speech” to get all kooky. Also: you may have to pay for Tweetdeck.
"I’ve no idea what it looks like after 10"
Your must-watch Covid content of the week, on how reinfections can permanently ruin your body. All to remind: be smart and safe these holidays with these tips.
US Children’s Hospitals Are Overwhelmed by RSV
An infant respiratory infection has taken a severe turn this year, inundating American hospitals. This is wild! Stay safe babies.
What causes Alzheimer's? Study puts leading theory to 'ultimate test'
The short of this is the techniques are not working to solve the disease. What’s also interesting – because my TikTok algorithm keeps giving me lots of videos on this – is there’s been a rise in “Lyme disease and Alzheimer’s are connected!” conversation.
At a certain point, perhaps around 2019, content became focused on one thing: money.
In the grand tradition of the American harder-better-faster-stronger-fication of things, what was once innocent entertainment – Food based challenges! Silly facial feats! Boyfriends doing makeup! – morphed into extreme giving and getting, gifting that was monsterized into the current brand of Customized Tesla That Gives You Money If You Hold Your Breath The Longest In Public™ variety of content. Where did this come from? I’d place my money on the post-Classic YouTuber creator David Dobrik and his brand of enfant terrible theater of excess performed for other creators in and around Los Angeles.
This genre faded as Hype Houses rose and fall due to their insularity, yielding to the person who now owns the internet – Mr. Beast – who cracked the code of giving what they want: they don’t want to watch reality shows – they want to watch and be on game shows. You can follow this rise in his content with “How Much Money Does Markiplier Make????? 2016” style of videos which morphed into “HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOUTUBERS MAKE?” to “Giving A Random Homeless Man $10,000” to “I Bought A Car Using Only Pennies.” This has led to his making videos like the recent “$1 vs $1,000,000 Hotel Room!” and the various runoff videos from creators cribbing his style (Stokes Twins, Zach King, Preston Playz & Brianna). Happening in parallel is a different sort of cribbing on TikTok, where creators have taken the Beast schtick and multiplied it by the Billy Eichener “For a dollar…” bit: there’s the “take 2 dollars or double it” schtick and “holding up service workers for cash” and “holding up service workers for cash (staged edition)” and “perform a small task for money” and “quit for cash (also staged).”
We know why this is happening: people – specifically Americans – are so fucking broke, working awful jobs, that we will entertain most things for money. Mr. Beast knows this as he was this: a North Carolina no one, who keeps it all in the family and is proof of the American dream. It’s aspirational! He knows this and, as we continue to suffer corporate inflation and devastating wealth gaps and a lack of taxation on the rich, his videos and similar videos take advantage of how so many people are impoverished, searching for a lottery-type win to ease their stresses, their being over-worked, their being suffocated by financial inequalities and disadvantages. While it’s easy to say creators like Mr. Beast are the main characters of these videos, you can see that’s not true: money is the top creator of the moment. Dollar signs and financial extremism are what are driving these videos because audiences are desperate. It’s escapism, it’s covetable, it’s problems being solved for nothing. It feels like we’re all living that scene in Matilda, where Harry Wormwood forces Matilda to watch the stupid show about people putting honey on themselves for money. The difference is Matilda destroys the television, realizing the absurdity and grossness of the situation, going on to fix the situation. For us, we are forced to watch and like it because we have no options for fixing it.
While I’d argue that content is moving in a different direction as the fourth wave of creators emerge – Early aughts MTV meets first-person A24 Real World via post-Casey Neistat Beast, perhaps? – this space of excess is going to continue indefinitely until our financial problems start see some resolution. The medium is the message: bite-sized creations from inspirational persons monopolizing our minds in the same way real billionaires monopolize our lives. They are aspiring to the same shitty caste that so many people hate, by reinforcing the (Ridiculous! Capitalist!) value of money. No wonder Elon Musk and Mr. Beast are getting cozy: they are the same thing.
Did you know you can chat with the Substack app? I didn’t – but I’m gonna try to drop ~mini-trend~ items in there!
She Opened The Mountain
Guess who has a new piece of fiction out? ME. It’s a wild ~speculative~ piece I had been working on for literally years, thinking about Puerto Rico, America, biracialness, history, and the ownership of place.
Sacheen Littlefeather may have lied about her identity. Does that matter?
The Sacheen-Littlefeather-Was-A-Fraud story is so interesting and this story is a great follow up, as it unpacks how complicated this is. As someone helped the community, does it matter if she “wasn’t real”? I think so, but I also understand the value in visibility.
"they kept a photo album of every lover they’ve had since 1950"
A feel-good queer story.
Miss Argentina, Miss Puerto Rico reveal they secretly married
I’m obsessed with the gay Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Argentina marriage.
Megan Thee Stallion Wouldn't Have To Defend Herself
The Drake “diss” of Meghan is just awful. Fuck him! Also? I hope Ethel Cain’s amish get him.
"we decided we should get married in one week"
When His Cancer Came Back, They Planned Their Viral Wedding
This will make you cry. The importance of friends and community! The importance of LOVE in your life!!
"who raised some of you to act so cruelly to strangers"
Why are people so MEAN!!!! I touched on this last week, as a joke, but the TikTok (Gen Z) audience can be so hateful. This person – Norah, an inclusive pilates instructor with cerebral palsy – has been going viral and has been getting so much hate for…just being herself. She’s taking it in strides and is amazing!
Can Hypebeast Magic Revive J. Crew?
I have faith that Brendon Babenzien of Supreme can turn J.Crew around!!
“hold down the A button and press start”
Turns out, we’ve been playing Mario wrong the whole time because…you didn’t have to start all over again when you died!
A 23-ton Chinese rocket will fall to Earth Friday.
"comes crashing down to earth"
Hopefully you didn’t get hit by the falling rocket this weekend.
Investigating a “Complex and Grave Situation” Inside a Wuhan Lab
Is Long COVID Actually Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Both Vanity Fair and New York published stories that seem a bit credible but like glorified conspiracies that…conflate information and may validate the wrong groups, although well intentioned.
Ten years ago, words like “YouTuber” and “Instagrammer” and “Blogger” were very useful, very descriptive terms. Now? We simply have “creators,” which is a category of people who create…literally everywhere online. Like small television channels, creators are a catch-all for people who have a brand that your brand can latch onto to reach audiences. We know this – but it has also meant that we’ve lost the thread of what people do online and how we should categorize them.
Thus, a taxonomy of sorts to remind us of how specifically to describe creators, so we don’t misunderstand and misconstrue the lanes that people who put themselves online need to go in. This is more self-care, so we don’t get “so mad” when some creator does something “wrong”: go back to this taxonomy and think deeply about what it is they actually do. (Note that, for the sake of this, the word “creator” is used throughout as the basic catch-all word for online figures.)
Creator: At its simplest, these are people-making-online, creating unique content across platforms. Think Brittany Broski and glitterandlazers: these are creators beholden to platforms, trying to be in as many places as possible to build audiences in respective places. What drives them is that they are charismatic, interesting people, making content held together by their personality. The reason why this name is the catch-all name for people making online is because it’s a starting point these days: you have to be everywhere all at once to build a community, to become a person-as-business. More on this in a moment!
Lifestyle _______: Someone whose job is to share their life and what surrounds their life through content. They latter half of this word is blank as this can take different forms, from creator to blogger to TikToker, but these are people who are less personality driven and more trying to live vicariously through them. Think family and fashion creators who often make vlogs and or post to Instagram, their life as the product: think Caitlin Covington and Mai Pham.
Personality: These are people who are known for being themselves. Like a host or like an editorial writer, these are people who just share their thoughts. They are not held to critical standards or scrutiny but are just there. This is MKBHD and Meghan McCain. They may seem like journalists or experts but are just people with audiences who have an opinion. A big “tell” if someone is or isn’t a journalist is if they do sponsored content.
Journalist: This is someone who shares information with an eye for scrutiny. They share information in a critical form, offering (mostly) educated answers and takes on current culture. They do not accept or post sponcon, instead posting as a service (and extension of whomever employs them). Think Liam Stack and Jamelle Bouie. Curious about the blur between journalist and personality? A lot of people are, as this great story shows.
Expert: Like journalists, these are persons in and of a specific profession whose job is to share information from their field. They have jobs and extend their work through online mediums. Think Katelyn Jetelina and Zeynep Tufekci and Dr. Candise.
Filmmaker / Writer / Photographer: A form of specialization that uses platforms in craft-focused ways that are unique-to-the-platform and flex their own expertises. These are persons who work in specific industries who use places like Twitter for writing and Instagram for photos. Think Patricia Lockwood and Scott Schuman.
Influencer: Someone who influences, someone who is crafting and creating space for the future largely through recommendations. Think Deeply Madly Modern and The Digital Fairy. This is often where trend-based creators go, people making in the service of influencing and informing culture. There is some fluidity with curator and expert!
Curator: Someone who brings elements of culture together, to reveal the similarities and differences by the group. These are less about influencing and more about informing culture by re-sharing artifacts of culture. Think Reeves Connelly and The Algorythm. Note that there is fluidity with influencer, expert, and journalist.
_____-r: Someone of a specific craft. Think podcaster, YouTuber, blogger: someone who is a specialist, excelling and creating in a specific way. This can be an extension of experts, which is where you’d place dancers (Matt Steffanina) or singers (Cheryl Porter) and chefs (Cooking with Lynja).
Entertainer: A person whose job is to keep you company by making you feel an emotion, therefore entertaining you. These are court jesters. They may be in a specific genre, but their job is to keep you company by having fun on camera. Think Ninja, Benny Drama, KSI, and Emma Chamberlain. Often, these are people who were once creators but are now so much bigger than that.
Audience / Reader / Follower / Subscriber: Someone who simply consumes but does not participate in a person’s content.
Community: A group who have dedicated themselves to a specific person over a period of time, who share and support largely by leaving comments within a creator’s ecosystem.
Fan: Someone who speaks up and speaks out for a creator, by sharing their work on different platforms.
Stan: A more vocal fan, who organizes those with a similar love for a creator and creates large-scale means of support to amplify the creator that they love. They can sometimes believe they are more-than-a-fan as far as the relationship with a creator. Think BTS ARMY and Barbz.
Supporter / Patron / Paid Subscriber: An audience member who monetarily supports a creator directly.
Welcome to hell, Elon
"I really think we can all bully him into selling the company"
“More like this”
“an unusable platform”
"elon did not 'buy Twitter' "
“imagine living in a mars colony”
“Grimes owns Twitter”
“Trump is a poster”
“Elon Musk got fact checked”
“just fired by Twitter”
“GRWM to see if I was laid off”
”i’ll see you all on Crembler”
All the best takes, memes, and analysis of the Twitter situation. We’re also entering a phase where Elon Musk is creeping closer and closer toward a live-Tweeted meltdown. (I also have a theory that Jack played Elon to take on the failing ship, so he could fully ruin it and Jack could launch something better in the ashes. A long con scammer queen!) (Also the first firing item is fake, the second is real.)
"Mundane Halloween is back!"
MUNDANE HALLOWEEN IS BACK BABY!!! I love them all, but am partial to the “champion of some sport or another.”
“thinking about heidi klum’s worm costume”
"Heidi Klum yassified herself after the worm costume"
“my last two brain cells”
"another look at you"
The Heidi Klum worm is the reason I survived this week.
This is one of the greatest Tweets I have ever read.
"happy 8 years to these rita ora tweets"
This is Twitter history.
“it could also pick your nose”
An invention that really makes you think.
“i’m a man”
Lost count of how many times I’ve watched this TikTok.
And, finally, me being a social activist.