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the internet is having an IDENTITY CRISIS
On an internet that increasingly serves few, along with a 2023 trend review.
Elon Musk imposes daily limits on reading
Jack Dorsey: “Running Twitter Is Hard”
“don't ever tell me he's a business genius ever again”
Late breaking, major update in news of the stupid: Elon Musk is now limiting the amount of Tweets you can see without paying. This is…stupid. (Yes, The Trend Report™ from here on out will try to work around Twitter, as far as linking out.)
Recapping the revolt in Russia
I’m not going to try to understand the recent Russian happenings. Let AP explain it to you, if you’re interested.
France Police Shooting and Riots
"police unions are openly threatening mutiny"
There’s a lot going on here. It does appear that we are witnessing people actively stand up as police state antics are being threatened.
Supreme Court outlaws affirmative action
What absolute, white supremacist adjacent bullshit. “Colorblindness” is one of the worst ideas to ever have been implanted in American brains. It’s a conspiracy theory: it’s not real!!
Court sides with designer opposed to same-sex wedding
Court rejects Biden's plan to wipe away student debt
Court declines to review trans woman's ADA claim
…and if you didn’t think the affirmative action case was enough! This is some dumb shit that seems to suggest voting doesn’t matter!! I hate the Supreme Court!!!!!
Top U.S. leaders and their connections to slavery
More than 100 U.S. political elites have links to slavery
A very good, very in-depth story from Reuters about U.S. leaders and their ties to slavery. Good counter-balance to that stupid Supreme Court ruling! (One representative’s family had…183 slaves!!) (Also the statement by Georgia representative Carolyn Bourdeaux is a model for how Americans – Or anyone!! – should encounter the past. Too bad she was the only representative who felt this way!)
3 People Stabbed in a Gender Studies Class
This, surprisingly, happened in Canada and is assumed to be “a hate-motivated incident related to gender expression and gender identity.” And we say that hateful words don’t transform into action!
Inside Campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
RFK Jr.'s shirtless pushups go viral
"a steroid user doing less than a plate for 8"
RFK Jr. is a mad man, whose public displays of masculinity are so hilariously bad they’re starting to become good.
Moms for Liberty is a GOP kingmaker.
Moms for Liberty named 'extremist' by watchdog
This “parental rights” group has seen a rise recently, and I’ve seen so much conversation about their far right asses. A lot of their thinking is being validated by the Supreme Court, et al!
Can't find Sriracha? Here's why
Having trouble getting sriracha? It’s because climate change-based droughts are leaving jalapeño farmers without water.
Humans used enough groundwater to shift Earth
This seems…very dramatic! To save you a click: this tilted the planet eastward, and is causing sea levels to rise (as groundwater is displaced from underground, into above-ground bodies of water).
There’s a certain type of meme that requires deep knowledge of current events to understand. They’re nesting dolls, hieroglyphs hidden within hieroglyphics, worlds that require multi-tiered levels of internet linguistics to understand: the ultimate inside joke. They were popping this week and included a statement about the SHEIN factory tour fiasco done in the style of the Mr. Beast text message regarding the submarine fiasco, an image of the McDonald’s mascot Grimace in a room playing a ukulele in the style of a YouTube thumbnail that was referencing the Colleen Ballinger ukulele apology video YouTube thumbnail, and a video of one friend greeting another friend with the “One Margarita” song that has been trending on TikTok, which puts her into hysterics and has her walking away, to which he replies by using the now-viral “Attenzione! Pickpocket!” call.
If you do not understand these: that is fine. You are normal! Congratulations!! To understand these is to have very deep, very involved relationships to the internet in 2023. It means that, yes, you are extremely online. It also captures something that I’ve realized about Twitter and TikTok right now: in order to succeed, to get noticed or engagement, you have to interface with “what is trending” by directly engaging, remixing, quote-retweeting, and or stitching content that is trending or by using very specific keywords (in the case of the ones above, those included: tour, SHEIN, ukulele, Grimace, one margarita, pickpocket attenzione). This requires and demands of-the-moment-ness, a sort of participation to race at lightning speeds to play the game of “Internet 2023.”
(Not to bring in my day-job, but here’s a great example of this in action: a “Padam Padam” Tweet we did for YouTube under-performed at first because it didn’t include the words “Padam Padam.” But, by our followers using the word and our replies bringing in the words to the conversation, the Tweet buoyed upwards, brought into conversations about the Kylie Minogue song. This is a great example of the of-the-moment-ness that algorithms are rewarding right now, no matter how big or small your audience is.) (Unrelated and related, given the release of the new Olivia Rodrigo song, I noticed stan accounts with less than a hundred followers getting engagement by using keyword soup. This is what platforms are looking for now and what the Internet seems constructed around these days.)
This both is and isn’t how the internet has “always been.” This trend is playing at the opposite end of another trend, one that I think is quickly colonizing another part of the internet: no one wants to be online anymore. With sites like Dlisted calling it quits, record labels like the very online PC Music ending, original podcasting app Stitcher is shutting down, and publications like neo-comic outlet The Nib closing, it all signals that things that started in the mid-aughts and early 2010s are over because there seems to be too much and not enough internet left. (See also: the closure of Buzzfeed, Gawker 2.0, and “Break The Internet” era Paper.) (Along with…the ongoing euthanizing of Twitter.) It’s sad, for veteran digital persons like myself, but is also something we have seen coming: a rise in mish-mashing pastiche culture, the effective collapse of social media centrality, and suffocation by too much information. We are left with a fluid internet, which benefits no one – not even brands!
2023 will be remembered as the year that the internet truly changed. This is very much an in-process, living history moment but something very much is up. As we use and engage with the internet, the question is increasingly “Who is this for?” (followed by “What’s the point?”). This is also complicated, propelled, or “helped” by another factor that I feel like we don’t talk about enough: a new era of workers who may have grown up on social media but don’t understand “how social media works” – and they’re now working in social media. This means a huge gap between how-the-internet-was, the very basis of running a social campaign or a website or other “digital” items, colliding into a group of people who only know what they were grandfathered into online. This is far from a new observation, as noticing how bad Gen Z is at the internet has been an ongoing, en vogue subject. This leaves only Millennials and Gen X/Gen Z cusps as the only people who “understand” the internet. Everyone else doesn’t need what we need from the internet – and that is killing it.
Welcome to the greatest internet growing pains. Are you feeling them?
John Maus Exits ElectroniCON
As a former John Maus super fan, watching his ongoing fall is fascinating. He seems to “get it” but, in the ways of straight cis white male “contrarians,” is intentionally fucking himself and trying to “ask the right questions” his way to success. From “Rights For Gays” and “Cop Killer” to…contributing $1500 to the far right? What a moron. Anyway, buy some music from Molly Nilsson.
Some Rules for Summer Concertgoing
A lot of theories about why people are behaving so badly at concerts, from general misbehaving to wanting to go viral. My take? Concerts are bad and bring out the worst in people (just like church).
Miranda Sings responds to grooming allegations
"funniest comments on Colleen Ballinger"
No matter if you aren’t following the Colleen Ballinger grooming saga, you will enjoy (Hate.) this extremely theater kid ukulele adorkable “apology” video. The comments are…incredible.
Applying For A 'Ghost Listing'? How To Spot One.
This is definitely a thing, as I’ve worked for many places that post listings as a formality while hiring outside of the submission pool.
Marc Jacobs’s 3-Minute Fashion Show
He made an interesting, if not ham-fisted statement on consumer culture. I enjoy it – Giving people the cake they so desperately want! – while having them in a venue that is the exact opposite (a library). This also seems to make the point of the previous essay: what is the point of technology if it’s ruining our relationships?
The Maternal Health Crisis
This was a fuck around and find out moment for the Biden presidency, where Keke Palmer interviewed Kamala Harris (and impersonated her several times, to her face lol) earlier in the week, only for Keke to go on TikTok after the Supreme Court items and share…how exasperated she is by this country. Very relatable!
"a bond is a bond"
Pride may be over, but here’s the story of gay flamingos who are almost forty.
"which ending do you prefer?"
Original Ending - Meryl's Thoughts
For any Death Becomes Her fans (which should be…everyone?), this clip from a featurette has Goldie Hawn explaining an alternate ending that sounded…so deep. I wish they filmed it! The pain of life!! I added another clip of Meryl for another view of the ending (which surprisingly aren’t as deep).
We are just about halfway through the year which feels like a good time to look back and forward. To do that, we’re reexamining my 2023 Trend Forecast to see what was right, what was wrong, and what will require further monitoring. Note that I hate “predicting” things but instead am always trying to piece together narratives with what is happening in the world. These stories, patterns, etc. make trends which end up here. Let’s go!
Unruly Growth: While this is a longer term trend, the growth economy (and the end of it) was very much on my mind at the end of last year. While I think this continues to evolve, there is one clear update which we literally talked about last week: economists and the like are speaking up about how the global economy has failed. This is progress!
Private Parts: This was about how “doing nothing” and being offline will be the new luxury. I still agree with this! This idea has collided with something we all should have been thinking about in regards to “doing nothing”: our understanding of time. From the new Jenny Odell book to story after story after story on the subject, our relationship to time is under scrutiny so that we can do nothing. This relates to worker’s rights, the economy, technology, politics, and so much more. This ain’t going anywhere!
Gen Z Accountability: This isn’t happening – yet. I do think, as mentioned with the “fall of social media” story, the decentralizing of platforms means Gen Z is no longer the group to cater to: it’s all about anyone who will listen. Pair this with Gen A romanticizing Gen Z’s childhood and you can tell the times are changing.
Crucified Religion: This was about the “end of religion.” This is another long-term trend that I don’t think we will see realized this year but, given that this subject is very much on our minds, we can say it’s “still going.”
I was going to include a few more items I’m watching for the latter half of the year but, in the spirit of a long weekend, I’m keeping it short. What are you keeping an eye on as we enter the rest of 2023? I think: more AI (especially us babysitting that tech), more writer strike wars (which will hopefully undo and defang much of Hollywood), a collapse of a big tech power player (Hello, Twitter!!), some ridiculous American political moments (DeSantis getting the GOP nomination, politicians courting the Mr. Beast endorsement),and a major reckoning for an international force (Russia? France??).
"not drinking water but 2 FUCKING YEARS?"
Speaking of wild drinking behavior, watch a video of this adult man drink water for the first time in two years.
"my most favorite sort of shitpost"
A very succinct explainer of evolution.
"these videos bring me so much joy"
Related: videos of people being told they are right when they are wrong are such a gift.
"making the worst outfit of all time"
I would wear this outfit!
"honestly same. it’s a bad dress!"
This dog video is fake (It’s Lele Pons and Hannah Stocking.) but it is very funny nevertheless.
“SHE SO BIG”
Look at this fucked up dog!! The scream I scrummed!!
"How do you drive with a PlayStation disc"
In case you were wondering: a Playstation game isn’t a great steering wheel.
"the award winning 2016 LGBT film, British Lads"
THIS is queer cinema! Happy end-of-Pride!!
"you better NOT be smug dog cookie"
If you can become a smug dog cookie, come over. I’m waiting.
"use the bathroom before"
It’s summer! Have fun ziplining!! But make sure to go the bathroom!!!
"1776 was the year the earth was created"
Lastly, which will you be wearing this July 4th? I’m partial to the first one!!
And, finally, me at every restaurant this long holiday weekend.