The Trend Report™ 🍌 The Great Stupidity
Understanding the dissolution of literacy, along with motivations for creating.
Thank you for another great year of The Trend Report™!! This is likely the last post of the year, as I take a little offline time. If interested, please take the 2022 reader poll as I’ll be revamping and retooling aspects of the newsletter for next year. Happy Honda Days!!
String of Child Deaths from Strep A Alarm Health Officials
Kids are having a rough end of year.
Photos: Devastating Drought Upends Life in the Andes
Your end-of-the-year climate disasters.
One of climate change’s great mysteries is finally being solved
A fascinating story about the debate around clouds, and if they are helping or hurting the climate.
Having More Fun Is Good for the Planet
I maintain the end of the growth economy will be the new frontier of living rights, worker’s right, and climate rights!
Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Energy Breakthrough
This is a huge story that didn’t get enough press, as it represents the future of (clean) energy!
U.S. lawmakers unveil bipartisan bid to ban China's TikTok
No Twitter and no TikTok? Yipes.
Former top Twitter official forced to leave home due to threats
Elon Musk is Selling Off Twitter’s Cafeteria and Furniture
"So Twitter is supposedly not paying rent"
"Dave chappelle brought up Elon musk"
Some of the top bad-things-about-Twitter from this week.
CDC urges masking return as tripledemic surges
Please be safe!!
Long Covid Killed More Than 3,500 People in US
Cancer treatment as Moderna’s vaccine shows promise
An interesting development, all from creating Covid vaccines.
A list of recent things that are related, which paint a picture of a current moment.
“Something weird is going on in the world of reading,” the TikToker says, before providing a few examples of said weirdness, like computer program Vitalik Buterin questioning why books and podcasts aren’t the same and Sam Bankman-Fried proudly saying he would never read and that he’s skeptical of books. Writer Danielle Prescod followed up on this idea, pointing out how Kanye West also recently said he doesn’t read and how literacy levels are incredibly low in America (not to mention that reading books is at a low point). “If you're smart or if you read, people hate you,” the TikToker says. “There's this push back against pretension and elitism and ‘it's not that deep’ culture.”
A billionaire bought a website built to share information and ideas, as expressed by writing in set characters. Said billionaire is now picking off journalists who critique him and who report on him, drawing international condemnation. Related is the deletion of sites that share the work of these journalists, that seek to share information on him, and (supposedly) videos of him being booed, all showing a critical thinness of mind and a totalitarian disposition. This is not to mention blatant far-right promotion and QAnon peddling, as exemplified in actions like spreading homophobic conspiracies. Unsurprisingly, hate speech grows on the platform.
There is a rise in “independent journalists,” regular people who are “reporting” what they see. This group of people are born out of the journalist-influencer, a group operating in for-profit spheres that prioritize personality and spin over unbiased, reported information. They play to algorithms and audience instead of truth. This creates a pathway from commentary to conspiracy theories, people using the title of “journalism” to feed information from bad actors, which ends with billionaires who have worked to dissolve trust in the media to give “news” to “independent journalists.” This confuses what news is and isn’t – but that is the job of the billionaire: to call out “fake news,” to attempt to discredit those who do not play into an agenda or frame them favorably.
An entire newspaper and its history vanished from the internet and no one knows who is behind the disappearance. As one reporter from the newspaper notes, this was a catch-and-kill operation on a local press outlet that no one was really interested in all. This is peculiar until you consider one story of note: an accusation on sexual assault – which relates to a very powerful person.
There is a growing realization that most public figures aren’t of working class backgrounds. News that only 7.9% of creative professionals in the United Kingdom are from working class backgrounds signals a lack of diversity. In American politics, the gap in working class people being represented in politics creates a government that favors the rich. In Hollywood, persons who aren’t from rich families often struggle, exposing the inequalities that comes with public, unhidden nepotism. (Similarly, industries like Hollywood are lacking stars due to the prioritization of profit. The result is a movie star gap.) Yes, working people are having a good year – but their voices aren’t being heard: only the rich are.
A billionaire politician releases “digital trading cards,” NFTs that feature very poor photoshop. As one vocal follower noted, “i can’t believe i’m going to jail for an nft salesman.” (Which is not a joke.) Naturally, to exemplify the allegiance the poor have to the rich, the “digital trading cards” sold out in a day.
There is a rise in “unhinged” and “chaotic” content, exemplified by the notion of the chronically online. Most are jokes – but a lot are not. On one hand there are age jokes, on the other is a misreading of Chile. On one hand there’s a joke about People, on the other is a creator yelling at a fan for sharing how they’re feeling. At a base-level, “joking around” and miscommunication have become confused.
What happens when we use visuals – or “style” – instead of proper communication? Everything becomes muted, unsightly, and the same, disappearing all nuance. Depth becomes shallow. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is a great example of this, a person who performs speech instead of giving speeches (in the words of writer and sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom). The pervasion of ugliness is another example, which plays into cultural color loss. A growing symptom of this is eschewing of choice in the personal, in style, instead letting algorithms and influence make decisions for us. How we position ourselves, how we present ourselves, has become muddied in our media illiteracy: being unable to tell when a machine or when an advertisement has told us what to do has made us all “the same.”
"#BarbieTheMovie, from director Greta Gerwig"
If you have not seen the Barbie trailer, stop what you are doing and watch right now.
"@Rihanna ’s first TikTok"
In case you missed it: Rihanna’s baby is cute!
Drag Queens Are Fearing For Their Lives
This is a great story, largely as it exposes the pipeline between the “quiet” homophobia that turns into outright queer-hate. I tried pointing these connections to a friend this week, only for it to be shut down. As Nina West says so well, hate has taken a different form.
Balenciaga Tried to Blame Contractors. It Failed.
A great interview with the artist who did the Balenciaga photos, and how he was brought in and sacrificed by the brand.
ChatGPT Wrote This Article About Large Language Models
"my mom before and after being the victim of a sh00ting"
Tyler Perry reveals past suicide attempts
In light of tWitch’s death this week, a lot of videos and thoughts came to light about “good men,” depression, and suicide. Sad stuff, and a reminder of issues that men have.
'Luddite' Teens Don't Want Your Likes
This story is onto something and amazing but also is extremely Times. I predict it will be the second coming of the Lena Dunham high school dinner party story, a local “trend” by rich kids masquerading as a national something. (Which it likely will be, but have some self-awareness. SHEESH.)
The Best Party Games for Adults
I love this story about artsy and not dinner party games. Now I need friends to play them with!
“Thoughts on this trendy procedure?”
“Where did all the buccal fat go?”
“me standing outside the buccal fat removal”
Social media speeds up our insecurities as women
The cosmetic conversation of the week. Tanya Chen’s take on this is great – and this seems to get at what Alexis Stone was getting at last week!
“What I think this wedding was last minute”
“Perez Hilton gets confirmation”
WARNING: If you watch these, they will mess up your TikTok algorithm (a la, block the creators after watching). But! A corner of TikTok is ravenously sharing theories that something is happening with Britney Spears again and that her wedding was fake. I can believe it! But also know this content is a slippery slope to the independent journalism “save the children,” anti-Amber Heard world of @houseinhabit.
Why do we make art? Why do we create? What is the point in making? Should there be a point?
It’s easy to say “the point” is to sell. You make something, you should be compensated. But is that really a good reason? Who says that is “the point” except for capitalism? Of course in a world where we have to worry about money to have food and have place, all things needed to simply exist, this is the case. But can we divorce ourselves from this? Can we divorce creation from the pursuit of money? Can our creations be more about an idea, about a time and a place, instead of about a means to sell?
Take Phyllida Barlow, a sculptor known for her monuments and use of unconventional materials. She’s recently hit some small level of virality thanks to a reposting on the Art21 Instagram from her 2021 feature. My friend Hannah shared this earlier in the week, which is one of the more profound statements on being a creative. Here’s what Phyllida had to say –
Making work that does not have a destination has its loneliness and its sadness about it. And many artists endure that for their entire lives, and it's heroic. The novel that never gets published, should it never have been written? Of course it should be. It's making a fantastic contribution to culture of the moment because that individual has that huge urge to do that without any other qualifying pressures. Those are my sort of private thoughts that I think there's a lot about the art world and the way we experience art that's fantastic, but I think there's a lot that's not entirely spoken about or recognized, which is the unseen and the unknown and the creative act as a deeply private experience. There is this great, powerful desire to just create something. And does that just get eroded away? I hope not.
These “qualifying pressures” are so easily lost in our world, most qualifications now being “I need money.” When we talk about, say, everyone wanting to be a creator what we’re saying is people are desperate to be not-poor, desperate to not have to worry about money. (Which I wrote about in the off-site essay, about everyone wanting to be a creator.) When you invite money into a creative space, when you create “for something,” idea disappear, instead replaced with products.
Yes, if you can create and get paid for it, you’ve won – but so many of us seek that, confusing the pursuit of money with expression. This makes a danger that we then will never create. When you are a writer trying to get published, if you consider being unpublished failure then you have lost because you writing for yourself, to get the idea out there, should have been enough. You didn’t write the thing to make a living: you wrote the thing because you had to, because it was a story that needed to be told, because it was something that had to leap out of your mind and into the world. When I talk to young people or aspiring creatives, one mark is clear on who will be successful and who won’t: the preoccupation with “making” it in an industry. Industry doesn’t care about creativity: it cares about products. This is what then stalls them, because their desire to “make it” confuses their ideas for products. Pair that with fighting rich kids in the battle to be seen and you lose.
Watch the full video with Phyllida here. (And, if you didn’t read this essay, here is a summary of this in meme form.)
"will not sleep until i find out what they were trying to say"
This is what gave me a stroke this week. (It’s also…an engagement trick!)
“i did this instead of showering”
“this is hilarious”
“trying to break the AI”
“i want this filter to give me tits”
“just wanna be waifu”
The anime AI being obsessed with boobs was major this week.
"this is a real menorah"
If you got the penis lion menorah, you have gotten this year’s Giant Skeleton™.
“imagine being jewish”
People need to mind their business!!
“tf is my fyp”
I want this to be my fyp and this is why the government can’t take this app away from us.
“the way of the water is within us”
More tickets, please!
“i got into an uber”
This is very funny, borderline a point to pop into the first essay.
“thinking about this”
Same with this one, which I know I’ve shared before but am sharing again.
Hoping this becomes a new drag style.
And, finally, me thanking you for reading.
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