Eating ice cream out of a toilet for clout
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Why Don’t We Know The Names Of Community Moderators?
The community teams for most websites, media organizations, and media-adjacent companies right now are set-up the same way. Leading the team is usually a man, who is also typically white, with a title like “social media strategist” or “director of audience development” or “head of community”. And then underneath him is a team of women who are making, at best, 75% of his salary, who are doing all the actual strategizing, developing, or community managing. These women are usually the ones making the silent day-to-day decisions on how your groups, listservs, fandom communities, and front-facing social media channels are operating. I know this because many of my friends are doing this work.
Right now, for most people, there is no debate that internet radicalization is a real thing. General awareness that platforms can polarize and destabilize populations is better than it’s ever been. I mean, the bad guy in the new Space Jam movie is an evil A.I. called “Al G Rhythm” (algorithm lol). And, yet, this invisible industry of women who keep the internet running continue to be kept out of the conversation. They aren’t on CNN or MSNBC talking about how Facebook Groups devolve into violent chaos and they aren’t the ones who were on stages pre-COVID at tech conferences talking about how users interact in digital spaces.
Instead, there is a booming internet culture expert class — a scoldy inverse of the noxious tech evangelists of the 2000s — made up of pundits and academics who, once Trump entered the White House, decided that web culture was worth taking seriously. And, broadly, these people are influencing public discussions about the internet without any real understanding of what is actually happening inside of online communities.
Yesterday, I put out an interview with one of my favorite internet culture experts, Amanda Brennan. I’ve followed her work forever, but I’ve actually never had a chance to properly interview her. She’s worked at places like Know Your Meme and Tumblr and just started a new job at a social agency called XX Artists. She’s commonly referred at the “meme librarian” because she figured out how to take her Master’s in library sciences and apply it to curating and cataloging internet content. And I used our interview as an opportunity to ask her about this massive overlooking of community moderators because it’s been bothering me and I knew she’d have a good take on it. You can read our whole interview here. I wanted to share her answer here because I think she nailed it. Here’s what she said:
The reason social media policies are the way they are is because they're formed by these men at the top, who are just so embedded in their privilege. And they're not even thinking about what's happening underneath them. And the people who are doing this work are at a layer where they can't move up, because there are white men in the way who think they know what's going on.
I think, within communities, people are starting to know the names of moderators. I met with an academic very recently, who was like, “everyone on Tumblr knows your name.” And I'm like, “no, why are you telling me this.” But it made me very aware that it's a lot on the person who is doing the thing to actually come out and say, “yes, this is the thing that I do.” And I also have a very solid amount of privilege as a white woman. And I'm recognizing that, but I still have to fight to be heard a lot. And I think it's really hard to talk about, because I am so deeply embedded with people who are doing this work. And then I think of like Taylor Lorenz, who gets to do this work, and she broke, for better or worse, that ceiling. And then Tucker Carlson comes after her. And it's like, is it worth it?
Another layer of the conversation is that around December, it was revealed that I was working with Tumblr at the time. And I just got this influx of messages, and some of them are great. And some of them were really terrible. And it's like, “why put yourself out there to go through all this?” Like, the white men who found these platforms don't really get that.
Alright, Let’s Talk About The Toilet Ice Cream
First, I want to thank all of you who sent me this. I’m glad that when you see a toilet full of candy and ice cream, you think of me. If you haven’t seen this video yet, let me summarize.
In the video, a woman dumps candy and ice cream into a toilet. Then she fills the tower of the toilet with different flavors of soda. Then, as the man behind the camera makes what I can only describe as “filming a sex tape of your extramarital affair” sounds, she attempts to flush the toilet. The video ends with the toilet struggling to flush the soda and ice cream as the woman begins to ladle it into a cup. Like all good deeply insane pieces of online content, there is no good explanation given for why any of this is happening.
I had assumed that this was the same woman who smeared nachos all over a counter back in February. It is not. That video was created by a woman named Taylor Watson, a musician, who seems to be part of an informal Facebook prank video content network centered around “The Adley Show,” which is a Facebook Watch page that has 1.2 million followers created country music singer Adley Stump. Sure why not.
The toilet ice cream video was posted by “The Anna Show,” a different Facebook Watch page with 370,645 subscribers. The Anna Show was created by Rick Lax Productions, a content network run by Rick Lax, an extremely popular Facebook magician. The full video is three minutes long and the punchline is that the toilet ice cream soda slurry is then served to guests as a prank. The Anna Show is also responsible for that weird lasagna video that pissed off a bunch of Italians on Twitter a while back.
There’s an entire content economy now built around videos of beautiful white women in bland unfurnished vaguely Californian homes doing repulsive things to food. First, the videos are uploaded to Facebook Watch, where they make money for their respective pages. Then they’re shared among other similar hot white lady Facebook Watch show pages as a way to keep followers on those pages engaged. Then the videos are either uploaded to TikTok or Twitter, where younger users caption them with stuff like “white people need help” or “this is cursed” or “WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE,” etc. The videos go viral on Twitter and TikTok for probably the same reasons they go viral on Facebook — hot white lady doing gross shit to food — but the users on Twitter and TikTok disguise that as a hateshare to feel superior. And then, as with what happened with the video above, after it goes viral, the user throws a bunch of galaxy light ads underneath it.
Thus, the cycle is complete. This, in my opinion, is the future of digital media. Everyone sharing the same viral bait, pretending to be outraged, and using it to sell weight-loss drugs and streamer lights.
Josh Fight Update
On Wednesday, I wrote about the Josh fight that’s coming on Saturday. A viral Facebook screenshot has been traveling around Tumblr and Reddit with the longitude and latitude of a random field in Nebraska. It was supposed to be the place where a bunch of people named Josh Swain are supposed to meet up and fight each other.
Things have progressed quite a bit this week. There’s a r/swainbowl subreddit and a r/joshswainbattle subreddit. It also seems like people are trying to move the Josh fight to a different location because the original field is private property. I’ve seen this image traveling around different meme pages in the last few days.
If you look up the new coordinates — 40.8654791,-96.7842755 — you get the Bowling Lake Park in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was curious if the Josh battle had enough time and hype to get to a point where it would become An IRL Thing, like the Area 51 raid, and now I’m beginning to think it actually could materialize into something interesting.
In fact, when I went to check out the new coordinates I noticed this already on Google Maps:
A Really Good Video
Wait for it…
An Absolutely Wild Archive Of Our Own Chart
This was tweeted by writer Allegra Rosenberg and it’s super cool! My biggest takeaway is just that Stargate: Atlantis has an absolutely massive fandom. For most of the late 00s and early 10s, Stargate was bigger than Harry Potter, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Supernatural. That’s completely wild. Supernatural finally beat out Stargate in 2011 and basically stayed the most active fandom on the site until 2020, when it was beat by Harry Potter. Although, for a few months in 2020, Supernatural beat Harry Potter again, which I assume was due to #Destiel being made canon.
Here’s What The Slim Jim Twitter Account Has Been Up To Lately
Apparently, the GameStop pump has completely melted the brain of the person running the Slim Jim Twitter account. It tweets about dogecoin all the time now. Anyways, if you want, you can buy a Slim Jim NFT. It’s currently selling for 0.3281 ETH, which is, due to the crypto market being completely in the toilet at the moment, is only worth $738 right now. What a steal!
Here’s A Cursed Reddit Thing
This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by JRo. It’s from the r/MonsterHunter subreddit, which is a Reddit community for the hugely popular video game Monster Hunter. I actually played this game! It’s pretty fun. In the game you fight monsters and then collect their parts to make weapons and armor, but you can also take photos during your hunts and make albums out of them in a notebook. This Reddit user has decided to use that feature to, uh, document all the monsters’ feet. Here are some of the comments:
“So so like, fetish implications aside,, this is actually really cool! It’s nice to see all the detail the modelers and designers went into each monster, even down to their feets!”
“Goddamn. This is so cursed yet i absolutely appreciate your endurance.”
And one user wrote, “Why?” And the OP responded, “You know why.”
Good Earth Day Tweet
Looking For A European Super League Explainer?
The other day did you see a bunch of dudes on your timeline moaning about football (soccer)? We covered it on this week’s Content Mines podcast. We also dig into why what’s happening with professional soccer right now is actually happening to all forms of media and it’s real real bad.
P.S. here’s a very cool new innovative news service.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
First, this bit on community moderators is so dang insightful. Thank you. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I'm in Lincoln, NE not infrequently, and will be begging a handful of friends to go scope out the battlefield location over my lunch break shortly. No promises, but I'll let you know if they find anything good.
So not to be that person but the conclusions you're drawing from the AO3 video aren't taking into account that it took quite a while for AO3 to be the central place it is now. It was started by a team of people who skewed in a few areas of fandom, and those who had archives to post fic that they still liked (such as HP and Buffy fandom) took quite a while to haul all their old fic over to AO3. The reason SGA seems so enormous at the start was that SGA fandom were part of the people building the site in the first place and decided to congregate there.
I honestly wouldn't even say that now AO3 is a good way to necessarily see the relative size of fandoms so much as the relative size of fic-oriented fandoms that like to post on AO3.