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Elon Musk thought he was buying the whole internet

Read to the end for a good beach convo

We Are What Musk Paid $44 Billion For

I first downloaded WeChat for a trip I took to Beijing in 2019. The app is essentially the operating system of modern Chinese life. It’s messaging app, it has centralized public social features, you use it to pay for stuff, and it integrates with other apps. And it is almost impossible to get around the country without it.

WeChat’s power and influence in China has made it the holy grail for tech companies outside of the country. Though, so far, no company has managed to build an equivalent. You have super-messaging apps like WhatsApp, which powers most of Europe and Latin America, and LINE in Korea and Japan. And you also have social-fintech apps like Venmo in the US and, more curiously, physical stores that have evolved into digital banks, like Starbucks or Mexico’s 7-Eleven equivalent, OXXO. But thanks to China’s, let’s say, unique sociopolitical landscape and internet regulations, WeChat is still in a league of its own.

But that hasn’t stopped Elon Musk from fantasizing about turning Twitter into the WeChat beyond the Great Firewall. Quartz this week actually put together a great timeline of all of Musk’s comments about WeChat-ing Twitter, which date back to last June. And this week, he took the biggest step yet towards reinventing Twitter as the everything app of his dreams, renaming it X. And like everything he has done to the site since he bought it, it has been a complete disaster.

The most recent version of the Twitter logo was designed by three people, built from concentric circles, meant to be read clearly at any size, inspired by the Nike logo. The new X logo is the Unicode character for “𝕏” (U+1D54F), but it also seems like he just grabbed it from an old podcast made by one of his reply guys. Musk also did not check if “X” was trademarked. Nor did he check if the @X account was taken. It was. And the user that once owned it told The Telegraph that it was repossessed this week without any sort of payment. No one at Twitter (I’m going to keep calling it Twitter because I don’t think this will actually last) checked how this would work in other countries, either. For instance, in Japan, one of Twitter’s largest and most important markets, the band X Japan owns the handle @XJapan and the trademark, which is why the @TwitterJP account has to be called “Japan” and use the old Twitter-based handle. Oh, also, apparently, Musk has been trying to name an app “X” since all the way back in his Paypal days.

The unquestionable stupidity of the redesign and its rollout has led many to ask — and attempt an answer at — why this is all happening. Platformer’s Casey Newton wrote, “The whole point, from the very beginning, has been to erase the old Twitter and everything it stood for.” And Bloomberg’s Matt Levine wrote, “Musk didn’t want Twitter for its employees (whom he fired) or its code (which he trashes regularly) or its brand (which he abandoned) or its most dedicated users (whom he is working to drive away); he just wanted an entirely different Twitter-like service. Surely he could have built that for less than $44 billion? Mark Zuckerberg did!”

My personal philosophy, with regards to both Musk and, also, everything in life, is that the stupidest, laziest, most embarrassing thing that could have happened probably did. My read on Twitter being clumsily stripped for parts and turned into a vague WeChat clone with a name that sounds like a porn site is that Musk made the mistake that all Twitter power users make. At the height of the pandemic, he became obsessed with the app and assumed that it was, one, popular and mattered, and, two, that his experience of it was universal. And so, the answer to “why is he turning Twitter in WeChat” is because he simply cannot imagine an internet beyond Twitter, just like all the users still using it currently. He wants his own WeChat because he wants to control all of human life both on Earth and beyond and he can’t conceive of other websites mattering more than Twitter because Twitter makes him feel good when he posts memes. As far as I’m concerned, Musk is simply doing the billionaire equivalent of when someone breathlessly explains insular Twitter drama at you irl like it’s the news. He thinks Twitter is real life and he’s willing to light as much of his fortune on fire as possible to literally force that to be true. Now matter how cringe it is.

I still stand by my opinion that we are just going to get more, smaller, different Twitters. I mean, TikTok has decided to enter the Twitter wars, announcing this week that they’re launching text posts. And Threads has finally rolled out a version of a chronological tab. And Mastodon is on the rise again. And Bluesky is… well, keep reading, we’ll get to Bluesky. Though, I don’t even think Twitter will even “die” anymore, unless its servers literally go offline. But if you want a point of no return for it ever really “coming back,” I think this is it.

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Things Are Getting Weird With The Lord Miles Situation

Miles “Lord Miles” Routledge has been “missing” in Afghanistan since February. I put “missing” in scare quotes because it is still deeply unclear what has happened to him. Routledge is a “dangerous places” YouTuber. He goes to impoverished and violent areas and vlogs about them, usually finding a way to tie it into his broader right-wing ideology about the need for Western Values, etc. There are lots of these guys, most of them are British, and I, personally, think their content is legitimately evil.

Routledge went to Afghanistan at the beginning of the year and promptly went radio silent. Then in March, an unverified Twitter account claiming to be the Taliban’s “Public Relations Department” announced that he had gone missing while hiking in a remote region of the country. Then, in April, the BBC confirmed that Routledge was in Taliban custody.

And then last week, Routledge’s account became active again. It posted a photo of him and is assuring his followers that he’s safe and having a great time. The problem is that it’s not really written in natural English and it’s not sharing any new photos of Routledge.

Another “dangerous places” YouTuber, who goes by Arab is claiming to have DM’d with Routledge and received a photo of him, but says he was told not to share it. Though, the screenshot that Arab shared shows the Twitter account referring to Routledge in the third person, confirming Routledge has no involvement with the account. It’s also worth taking everything Arab tweets with a grain of salt, considering he recently went viral — and was widely condemned — in Brazil for filming a video with gang members in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. He’s currently being investigated by Brazilian federal police.

Let’s Check In On Bluesky…

I haven’t been on Bluesky in about a week, mainly because I was traveling and it still sucks on mobile in places with limited internet. But, also, I’ve noticed that as more Twitter-like apps appear, my interest in using all of them has severely decreased. I’ve also realized that just reading the internet and putting all my thoughts about it here, in this newsletter, is a lot better for my mental health.

Anyways, I saw the tweet above and got curious about Bluesky and dove back in this week. It turns out the tweet is largely a joke — I checked the What’s Hot Classic feed this morning and mine was not furries and dragon cock — but it is a good launching off point for describing the current Bluesky landscape.

If you don’t have access yet, the app has a curious feature that has become increasingly popular. You can create “Feeds,” which have custom algorithms and you can make them publicly available for others to subscribe to. So when Bluesky changed the way the default “What’s Hot” trending tab worked, users just remade the old one.

I think Feeds are cool idea, but, in practice, it means that everyone is seeing a different shard of the kaleidoscope, which means that when I check my “Following” tab, which is the standard chronological feed, it feels like I’m reading hundreds of posts from vastly different websites. And, unlike Twitter in its prime, it’s a lot harder to reverse-engineer what everyone is talking about. Which I’m not sure is a great thing for a website that is still super small?

The Katamari Damacy Remaster Team Made A Real Game Featuring A Bunch Of Fake Mobile Games

The developers behind the recent remaster of Katamari Damacy, the only video game franchise that qualifies as art, made a bunch of working versions of the fake mobile games you see ads for on social platforms. It’s called YEAH! YOU WANT "THOSE GAMES," RIGHT? SO HERE YOU GO! NOW, LET'S SEE YOU CLEAR THEM! and you can download it on Steam and the Nintendo Store.

I’ve watched a few playthroughs and it looks incredibly fun and, thankfully, does not include any levels where Elsa from Frozen gives birth.

Two final related points to this. First, I did not realize so many of these games were fake. I thought all those zombie games were playable. And, second, I was at a Harry Styles concert a few months ago, up in the stands with the other adults, and there was a very bored businessman sitting in front of me and about halfway through the show I noticed that he was furiously playing games on his phone. He had like three folders full of freemium shitty mobile games and instead of paying to unlock more features, he would just cycle through each one until he hit the play limit and then jump to the next one. Which is how I might start using all the various Twitter alternatives once they’re all rate-limited.

Gravestone Recipes

I think this is just a really wonderful video. The whole account is worth checking out.

Garbage Vlog

So, I think with this video, I finally became eligible for being a YouTube partner. Which makes me think it’s a good time to sit down and write out what’s been going on with the YouTube channel, as well as the Garbage Day live shows. Long-time readers know I typically do things this way. Run off, try some stuff, and if it works figure out what it all means later.

For now, I think the Garbage Day YouTube channel makes the most sense as a place to turn Garbage Day content into video essays, like this recent video I did about Threads. The main reason is I just like making them and think it’s fun. But, more practically, YouTube supports links, which is good for this newsletter, and has good monetization features, which is good for my business.

As for the live shows, last weekend, I performed at Latitude Festival in the UK. A vlog covering my trip is embedded above. It went really well and it was easily the highest-profile show I’ve done so far, but over the last four months, I’ve done live events in New York, Milan, and Hamburg, as well. It’s been a rollercoaster ride. I am very tired and looking forward to chilling for a little bit.

I try never to publicly promise stuff that I don’t know for certain I can commit to, but I think it’s safe to say I see both video content and live events as part of the Garbage Day umbrella going forward. Watch out, MrBeast!

Some Stray Links

P.S. here’s a good beach convo.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***

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