The Trend Report™: No New Normal
Exploring what the phrase "new normal" is code for and looking at a nostalgia trend that has adults acting like children.
The Names of the Atlanta Spa-Shooting Victims
The mass shooting hate crime in Atlanta earlier this week was absolutely devastating. Take a moment and learn about the lives of those lost.
Cop Posted A Racist Shirt
While the Atlanta sheriff’s sympathetic statement to the white supremacist shooter was bad enough, it was completely unsurprising to learn that the sheriff had posted racist content. Altogether now: #StopAsianHate.
The Internet’s Memory of Breonna
As if the Atlanta shooting wasn’t awful enough, it was days after the one year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death. This story looks at how she is being remembered digitally, to help understand her legacy online.
Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo
This book is a wonderful sketch of how white male mediocrity is informed by white male supremacy. It’s a great, smart, depressing read that helps to inform these aforementioned news items.
A Tribute to Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson State Park is getting a redesign and a group of people related to the Brooklyn park – residents, activists, etc. – weigh in on how to honor the icon. This is interesting!
First born with antibodies against COVID-19
This is wild! And some incredible science non-fiction.
Mom Uses Deepfakes to Harass Cheerleaders
Welcome to the future, where angry people can make pornographic deepfakes of teenagers. This is very bad. (Do I still think deepfakes are the future of entertainment? Yes. Are there larger implications for society? Yes.)
Is your seafood what you think it is?
You know how people say tilapia isn’t a real fish? A recent survey of studies found that most supermarket fish are frequently mislabeled, saying they’re, say, snapper when they’re another fish entirely.
How to Pay Your Respects At a Virtual Funeral
Will we always have Zoom funerals? No. But they may continue for quite a while and, as I attended a Zoom wedding this past weekend where people didn’t know to go on mute when the ceremony was taking place, stories like this are more necessary than you think.
parties rage on as Mexico's death rate jumps
Notorious Covid party city Tulum has long suffered from vacationers visiting. Now, as parts of the world seem to rebound, Mexico has the third highest death toll in the world. This story explores the relationship between parties and deaths.
It will be great to go back to normal. It will be great when we can resume life as it was, seeing people and being able to participate in life as we once did. 2020 – and likely most of 2021 – was a long, strange weekend and we are starting to emerge, ready for the week anew.
But what does “back to normal” actually mean? I, for one, am feeling a creeping case of the Sunday sads about going “back to normal,” feeling that pre-school or pre-work week anxiety that my time to be myself, my freedom, is disappearing. There has been so, so much bad in the past year but this pausing, this time to stop down and take a different pace, has also yielded another truth: seeing problems laid bare, to wonder what can be fixed and to attempt to fix them, on personal and societal levels. Not that anyone had to be productive in the past year – but we were, working for others and doing the jobs that we must do in an unequal, unjust society.
This is to say: the post-Covid “back to normal” that we’re being told to get excited about – Three ways Biden can keep the US on track for a new normal by summer; When it’s safe to go back to normal; Welcome to the new normal. – is code for our old lives plus masks, distance, and vaccinations. There was no deeper thinking about the environment or education or racism or gender inequality or income inequality or health care issues. There was no reflection or growth as a society. Instead, America’s problems grew, from the loss of forward momentum for working women to the increase of hate crimes, particularly against the AAPI community, to our healthcare (and education) systems crumbling under stress. As countries like South Korea, France, and Italy took this “down time” to look at problems like their climate footprint and make change, the US exported more plastic waste and saw many cities and states stopping down plans to reduce the use of plastics. We, like nature, did not heal.
And this isn’t for a lack of trying to change things, to actually create a “new normal.” There was a time a few weeks ago when a higher minimum wage was set to reward many of our so-called essential workers. What happened? Dreams were dashed by “woke” politicians who curtsy atop of the vulnerable. Unions are barely making progress, as huge companies like Amazon strangle their efforts. When faced with paying grocery workers more money for their pandemic work, some chains have closed entire stores instead of lifting wages. We have the opportunity to tax a handful of billionaires but instead we give them more money. We have looked at the vulnerable and we have laughed in their faces.
What’s happened in America, from Trump’s botched handling of Covid to Biden’s “rush to normal,” is an attempt to keep the emperor’s clothes as intact as possible, to keep obfuscating truths by getting everyone back to work and too busy to stop and question their quality of life. This brings us to the biggest trend that I keep seeing, which ties back to my own Sunday sads: stories of people dreading this “return to normal.” As pandemic fades, some find anxiety grows and Our aversion to a 'return to normal' goes beyond just the office. and Returning to "normal"...not like your stress will magically melt away. and 'Back to Normal' Anxiety Is More Common Than You Might Think: these stories signal how America’s dehumanizing culture is the “normal” being spoken of.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have told friends that there are lessons to be learned in “all this.” To slow down, to respect space, to value people, to prize autonomy: there was a space and a time to learn this but…we did not. Instead we’re charging back toward a “new normal” which will carry with it the same problematic and suffocating lives we all had before this. So many industries will force this “new normal” on our heads like a shitty party wigs that they hope will distract us from dealing with our collective untended trauma. That I am dreading. I do not want this “new normal.” As Anne Helen Peterson wrote recently, “our post-pandemic selves will contain multitudes...but it’s okay that I’m not there, not quite yet.”
Why fans love anonymous internet stars
While Vtube goes unmentioned in this story, online stars like Corpse Husband and Dream have built a cult following without ever showing their faces. It’s an interesting phenomena that has to do with the lure of anonymity and mystery, finding that these stars’ success is somewhat similar to the appeal of Qanon.
"the internet never stopped being weird"
For the past few months, stories have emerged about how Covid has enabled oddity and weirdness to proliferate online. That’s...not true. As my colleague Amanda observed on Twitter, this has to do with those who are not-normally-extremely-online now being extremely online. We’ll see what happens when these normies stop being creative.
"essentially *everyone* in celeb publicity"
As my friend Lindsay pointed out, the recent move by a large portion of celebrity publicity firms to stop participating in the Golden Globes is huge, a sign that some people are actually holding bad actors accountable for their unsavory behavior. And what is the Hollywood Foreign Press notorious for? An egregious, longstanding lack of diversity.
Tina Turner says goodbye to fans with doc
:( I didn’t know Tina Turner wasn’t doing well, health wise, nor did I realize how pervasive tragedy was in her life. I love you, Tina.
Does God forgive men who verbally abuse?
This is an interesting story about “strict” religious parents whose parenting styles verge on abuse. While this is not my specific experience, I can definitely see strong shades of my own childhood in this story.
What Black Stripes On Buses Actually Mean
Huh. So they help armor these vehicles and signal seat lines? Interesting.
Affordable Housing Earns the Pritzker Prize
I love this because it shows how recycling and rethinking spaces is the future. This is important because I live in a city that is obsessed with bulldozing buildings.
In the early 2010s, a few books and pop culture items attempted to unpack why we love nostalgia. “Looking backwards is the only way for a society to move forward,” The Atlantic posited. This gets at something we’ve discussed here recently: people love what they’ve already seen because there is a comfort in that which they can predict, in knowing the rules of a game and will be spared any surprises. (Which, as The Atlantic shares separately, is because, “repetition breeds affection.” There is a comfort in knowing what’s coming.)
This idea is at the root of a very peculiar micro-trend that I keep seeing on TikTok: videos of hyper-tiny moments in elementary school life are being reenacted by adults, illustrating how common the story of American youth was. Yes, it has been discussed how quarantine created a nostalgia bubble, pushing pop culture to look toward the past for comfort. But for creators, regular people who make content, their turning toward the mundane moments of childhood as a source of comedic material is fascinating as it reveals a desire for an easier time of life, when you didn’t have to pay taxes or care about your health or do anything else but be young and dumb.
We see this as adults pretending be children at recess and following their moms around supermarkets and being embarrassed at church. There are also adults who are taking on comedic roles as substitute teachers and front office ladies and assistant teachers and disciplining teachers. There’s specific nostalgia here – being a child, being the subject of adult nuisance – that is a different longing for “simpler times.” Life was a big non-issue. Someone else did all the work for you. Most of these people likely came of age when when the internet was limited, when we weren’t so connected: the embedded desire here is to be unplugged, tuned out, able to connect with people in a way you cannot now. (And, unsurprisingly, happening in tandem are a Baby Kermit meme and stories of missing your first PC.)
This variety of nostalgia is particularly unique when you think about how, um, kids now live inside computers. Yes, that is a product of these specific kid times but it’s also says something about these specific adult times, that there was a joy and humor and stupidity in the biggest problem of the day being not wearing a jacket during recess. If only these were our problems, these videos seem to say. To be that dumb.
"we are in a state of cultural decline"
I think the best observation about the recent rash of cannibalistic capitalism is this reply, which notes how people are going to create whilst inside and we just...did capitalism in our apartments.
The 2000s were wild, weren’t they?
"astronauts came back with different accents"
A fascinating linguistic TikTok about how lack of gravity messes with your speech.
Please take notes on how not-to-do-this, white folk.
"A sloth playing with water"
I wish that were me.
I cannot, cannot, cannot tell you how hard I fucking laughed at this. Quatre-vingt dix-neuf, y’all.
"please for the love of god watch this clip"
I watched a lot of Nathan For You but I definitely do not remember this pro-pee drinking moment. (And, for whatever reason, it’s been recently re-trending.)
And, finally, a look at me putting on lip balm.