Tomorrow paying subscribers will get an interview with one of my favorite writers in the whole world, Verge reporter and author of the Musings On Mouse newsletter, Julia Alexander. Hit the button below to subscribe if you want to check it out! It helps support Garbage Day and you get fun extra stuff every month.
Here’s A New Weird YouTube Hack
So I hadn’t noticed this until I came across a post about it on Reddit’s r/OutOfTheLoop. The user, u/ukshj, asked, “What’s up with the under 30 second videos with a white background and black writing appearing on the YouTube home page?”
Sure enough, there a good amount of channels doing this. A Minecraft channel called BaconShadow seems to be the most active one. But there are a bunch more. Even crazier, some of these are getting A LOT of views.
If it’s not immediately clear what these videos are and why they’re interesting, they’re basically the exact kind of video spam that YouTube has spent years trying to remove from the platform. They’re short, don’t really contain any video or audio elements, and just instruct users to perform some kind of simple behavior in the comment section. This call-to-action is probably why they’re getting tons of views.
YouTube’s algorithm is probably the most obsessed over of all the major platforms’. Users agonize about what kinds of videos it does and doesn’t promote across the site’s many widgets. This Hootsuite article from a few months ago has a really good look at all the tweaks to it YouTube has made over the years.
Before 2016, YouTube promoted videos that had high view counts and long watch time. The result was a website full of mega-viral one-offs and earworm music videos. Basically, “Gangnam Style”. Then, YouTube introduced machine learning. Now, what you see on YouTube is the result of an algorithmic “funnel” that shows you videos ranked by your previous watch history and the watch histories of similar users. It’s why my YouTube homepage is currently anime recaps, emo gossip channels, leftist podcasts by former Cracked writers, and future funk DJs.
But YouTubers, through intense trial and error, motivated by ad revenue, have more or less figured out how to build a successful channel:
Experiential or heavily opinionated content
Topics that are related to other trending videos
Videos that produce a lot of comments
And, most importantly, videos that are between 10-15 minutes long.
The fact that comments seem to be outweighing watch time when it comes to YouTube’s promotional widgets is definitely surprising and seems rife for more sophisticated manipulation.
Last week, I sort of idly speculated that there might be some algorithmic shifts on the horizon for YouTube. My evidence was the fact all the major YouTube influencers had basically made the same video for Christmas. I’m now going to double down on that hunch. These videos should not be getting half a million views and the fact they are means there’s something very weird happening on YouTube right now.
This was sent to me by Twitter user @sunglassescats. I hate it so very very much. But I’ve also come to the unfortunate conclusion that I think it would taste alright.
In a subsequent tweet in the thread, user @huynasaur said, “Noodles were made with cheese powder, cumin, onion powder. Made a dashi by soaking kombu in Baja Blast overnight. I call it ‘mountain dewshi.’” It honestly sounds good, I think! @huynasaur has a pretty cool Instagram you should check out, as well.
Another Totally Normal Gamer Thing
This tweet is from a Japanese speedrunner. Speedrunners try to figure out the fastest ways to complete video games. The speedrunning community over the last 10 years or so has become increasingly interested in not just finishing games really quickly, but doing so in extremely intricate ways.
The @VGDensetu Twitter account has a really good explainer of what’s happening here.
Hitsheegame＠ホットプレート使い RTAinJapan @HitsheegameRTAinJapan ドラクエ3出走準備完了！あとはホットプレートの温度をキープしながら待つだけ。かなりシビアなので事故ったら許して、、、、 #RTAinJapan https://t.co/qLZIS5EzPI
So, in this instance, a speedrunner is literally cooking their console to complete the game faster.
The Mortifying Ordeal Of Being Known As The Mortifying Ordeal Of Being Known Guy
This is a fun one! If you’ve been on the internet pretty much at all in the last few years, you’ve probably seen at least some kind of passing reference to the phrase “the mortifying ordeal of being known.” Unsurprisingly, the first time I ever saw it was in a Tumblr meme a few years ago. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
I sort of assumed it had just kind of bubbled up through internet groupthink. I was wrong! The phrase has an origin. It was first written by essayist Tim Kreider in a 2013 New York Times opinion piece. The piece, titled, “I Know What You Think of Me,” ends with the line:
Years ago a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground, in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase, but I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.
The whole article is honestly a pretty beautiful piece of writing. I recommend checking it out! I do not know how the line resurfaced on Tumblr in 2018, but here’s the post that birthed the meme:
I also discovered this week, thanks to another post on Tumblr, that last year, Kreider wrote about inspiring a meme. The piece is titled, “I Am a Meme Now — And So Are You” and it’s also very good! It’s less a reaction to becoming a meme and more just a lovely rumination on the things we leave behind and how, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never really be in control of how others see you or your work. Here’s my favorite passage even if it isn’t exactly related to the meme:
My last girlfriend found my flaws, the things that annoy even me about me, amusing. When you break up with someone, you don’t just lose them, but a version of yourself. You don’t even get to know what your children will remember you for; it probably won’t be what you thought were the important moments. I still remember my dad snoozing next to me in the theater at a long, slow science fiction movie I was keen to see when I was 12. It still touches me to imagine how little interest he must have had in that film. He probably would not have wanted to be immortalized in his sleep, but there he is, snoring gamely beside me.
A Very Good TikTok Account
This was sent to me by a Garbage Day reader named Nic. He said it seemed like something I’d be really interested in and boy was he right! The account takes old pseudo-celebrities from the mid-00s MySpace and emo scenes and does TikTok-optimized documentaries about them. This series she did about BryanStars and the extremely awkward Never Shout Never interview brought back a torrent of teenage secondhand cringe for me.
Another TikTok Thing: A 1871 Recipe For Lemonade
Oh man, I love this. Above is a Twitter mirror for any Garbage Day readers that can’t access TikTok in their countries. The original can be found here. I actually recommend checking out the whole account, the user, @mort_allie, unearths a bunch of really cool stuff from the 1800s. As for this lemonade recipe, the main issue is that it calls for you to add whipped egg whites. Which makes the whole thing taste…like eggs.
But I came across a really interesting Tumblr thread explaining why certain recipes from the 1800s called for this. The egg was meant to remove impurities from the sugar you were adding. You were then supposed to strain it out through a jellybag. Interesting! The past sure was confusing and weird.
A Guy In Ontario Is Selling A Room Full Of Clown Figurines For $1 Million Dollars
Love clowns? Live in Canada? Have access to $1 million in cash? I have the deal of a lifetime for you! Saw this on the Shitty Thrifting blog. According to the listing on Facebook Marketplace, for $1 million you get 5,000-plus clown figurines. Pretty cool!
A Good Meme About The Art Of Film
And, Finally, Something Real Nice From Weird Al
Last week, Weird Al shared a very lovely story about a crush he had on a girl when he was in 9th grade. Here’s the whole post:
I was 12 years old in the 9th grade - younger than my classmates, and (as you may possibly be able to imagine) pretty awkward, shy and nerdy. And I had a crush on Patrice Y., the girl who sat directly in front of me in math class (because the seats were all arranged in alphabetical order for some arbitrary reason). Of course, Patrice would never in a million years have suspected that I had a crush on her, because like I explained… painfully shy. But one day I decided I would make my big move - I decided to draw a picture of her and present her with it. But because I didn’t want to give her the impression that I LIKED her or anything, I also drew pictures of EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE CLASS and handed those out as well, just to throw her off the scent. (Full disclosure, I tried to make Patrice’s picture a little bit better than everyone else’s, just to be subtle about my feelings.) Anyway, everybody seemed to like their drawings, and, as you may have predicted, my love life remained completely dormant for the next several years. Okay, fast forward nearly half a century later… I’m checking my Twitter feed and I see some woman on there talking about how she used to sit in front of me during 9th grade math class. Being slightly less shy at my current advanced age, I decided to follow up on this: I DM’ed her and asked if by any chance her name was Patrice. Turns out, it was. It was her - my 9th grade crush. I then followed up and asked, “Hey, by any chance do you happen to remember that one time I drew pictures of everybody in class?” A minute later she sent me this photo. She had saved it all these years. I just felt like telling this story because, well… 2020 was arguably a pretty sucky year overall, but there were some real moments of joy sprinkled in here and there - and for me, this was definitely one of them.
And here’s the Patrice picture:
P.S. here’s a good video about 100 Gecs.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***