Introducing Garbage Day Stories
Read to the end for an XKCD comic you should read
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The Pig Couch Is On Craigslist Again
Yesterday, a lovely Garbage Day reader named Louise sent me some VERY interesting tweets about this Craigslist ad for a giant pig-shaped couch. The listing went up on Tuesday and people on Twitter immediately started sharing, most notably Slate writer Karen Han, who wrote, “huge opportunity for one lucky New Yorker.” (Agreed.) Another Twitter user, New York artist Jeanette Hayes, also had an interesting tweet about the pig couch: “THE PIG COUCH IS FOR SALE AGAIN”
Notice the word “again” there.
A Twitter user in 2018 named @birthday_dinner actually wrote a huge thread about the pig couch. “uncovering a massive craigslist hoax... someone is pretending to be an 'artist' giving away a pig couch .... asking for and collecting responses ... but its a LIE,” @birthday_dinner wrote.
According to @birthday_dinner’s thread — which includes screenshots — the pig couch has appeared on Craigslist several times since 2011. Every time it pops up, it has the same story attached to it: a unique pig-shaped couch created by an artist, now they’re selling it.
Curbed also wrote a piece on Tuesday about the pig couch scam. It was actually created by an artist named Pavia Burroughs. She sold it for $500 to a dude from Maryland years ago. Every other Craigslist ad for the couch, sadly, is fake…
…or are they???
Introducing Garbage Day Stories
Everyone’s talking about Stories again! Twitter fully launched Fleets yesterday. They’re the same Snapchat story knockoff that every other platform has. Many people have pointed out that pretty much every mainstream platform has basically the exact same set of features now:
A profile page of some sort
A central feed for text, images, and videos
An inbox for private direct messages, which can also be used for private groups
Privacy toggles for who can see what you post
A verified user class
Ephemeral “stories,” which expire after a certain amount of time
Also quick side note: People have ALSO pointed out that “Fleet” is not just a dumb name, it’s also the name of a very popular enema brand. lol whoops!
The only real differences now it seems between Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn is the user base, main algorithm powering the app, and what kind of content is prioritized: Facebook emphasizes social connection, Instagram emphasizes visuals, Twitter emphasizes immediacy, Snapchat emphasizes private communication, and LinkedIn emphasizes professional networking. But beneath the surface of any of these apps, the guts are now more or less the same.
This, of course, makes sense total sense. Modern social platforms are the digital equivalent of fast food companies. Instead of creating food deserts, they make news deserts, and instead of heart disease and obesity, their revenue streams create paranoia, radicalization, and an erosion of democracy. And the market has done what it always does, turn everything into the same dang thing — four massive tech platforms now offering the exact same features, dressed up differently. Would you like your hamburger from McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s. Wendy’s has square burgers!
Former president Barack Obama this week told Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, “If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition our democracy doesn’t work. We are entering into an epistemological crisis.”
Twitter is also reportedly exploring a downvote or dislike feature, as well. This led many people to tweet some version of “oh great, Twitter is going to be as toxic as Reddit, now.” And Reddit can be toxic, sure, but the typical user experience on Reddit is nowhere in a million years as awful and exhausting as it is for the average Twitter user. Sorry! In fact, in the face of corporate homogenization of the internet, I think Reddit is part of an increasingly small group of platforms that, at the very least, could be used as examples of how to build a more vibrant internet.
Reddit, Twitch, YouTube (groan), TikTok, Tumblr, and Pinterest are all extremely popular. I mean, Reddit, YouTube, and TikTok all have more monthly active users than Twitter. And all of these platforms feel like they have some specific reason to exist. They don’t just feel like portals.
I do want to acknowledge that asking for variety among the companies that dominate all of web traffic is basically the same as wishing your gentrified neighborhood would build some differently-shaped high rises, but still. It’s bad enough vulture capitalists and digital monopolies have reduced the internet to one of those suburban expressways where everything is just gas stations and fast food, but at the very least, we can fight to have some interesting options. Like a Taco Bell or Sonic or something.
Hentai Vs. Australia
I came across an absolutely WILD r/HobbyDrama post this week about an anime I had never heard of called Eromanga Sensei. Apparently, the drama around this anime was so intense it has actually led to a law in Australia banning hentai. This is one of my favorite genres of 21st century news story — lawmaker has to acknowledge the existence of anime.
Per the Reddit post, in 2017, an anime adaptation of a light novel called Eromanga Sensei started airing. A light novel is basically like a Japanese young adult fiction book. Eromanga Sensei was created by an author named Tsukasa Fushimi who is sort of notorious for putting a bunch of weird underage girl incest shit into his stories. With Eromanga Sensei, he decided to really go all in on it. Eromanga Sensei is about a 16-year-old light novel author and his 10-year-old step-sister having a romantic relationship while making erotica together. No thanks!
There was a ton of back and forth about whether or not people could still like an anime that is basically completely centered around an underage incestuous relationship. Never underestimate the mental gymnastics anime fans will go through to watch something problematic. See: "It's alright because she’s hundreds of years old.”
Anyways, Eromanga Sensei created enough controversy that it was actually addressed in parliament by South Australia Senator Stirling Griff. Griff also brought up a bunch of other really messy anime titles, like Sword Art Online and Goblin Slayer.
“The worst anime my office discovered is Eromanga Sensei. The plot is beyond what any person would consider normal or appropriate,” Griff said. “There is nothing funny about it. It is repellent. The series should have been denied classification and should be banned.”
Griff and another Australian politician named Connie Bonaros led a review of the country’s pornography classifications and it seems it has actually resulted in a very real hentai crackdown Down Under. In October, J-List, an international anime and hentai distributor, posted a statement about it, hilariously titled, “Australia Bans Waifus, Onaholes, and Fun!” I refused to explain what any of those words mean. The statement reads:
Australia is killing off any chance of waifus entering the county because we’ve had to stop shipping there.
DHL Japan called us last week, informing us that Australian customs have started rejecting packages containing any adult product. They then advised us to stop sending adult products to the country. Following that, current Australian orders with adult items in them were returned to us this week.
VICE wrote about it, as well, noting that the wholesale banning of hentai is sort of par for the course with how Australia classifies what is and isn’t “illegal pornography.”
This obviously has troubling implications for free artistic expression and seems to be part of a larger trend of hard-right Australian authoritarianism, but also, I really don’t think I have the strength right now to passionately advocate for incest hentai. So let’s move on.
Here’s A Really Good Video
Some Additional Thoughts About QAnon
On Monday, I wrote:
The most likely end for QAnon is either a mainstreaming of the movement and it becomes the next Scientology or a Wild Wild Country-esque fizzling out where members start leaving and putting it behind them and never fully reconcile with the toxic movement they supported. The group becomes a historical footnote like the Millerites who woke up the morning of October 22, 1844, expecting Jesus to welcome them to heaven, realized the world would keep on spinning, were widely ridiculed by mainstream society, and then promptly forgotten about.
I am very sorry to pullquote myself. I feel extremely embarrassed about it, but I wanted to make sure that whole chunk was there. A few very smart readers of mine pointed out that comparing QAnon to the Millerites isn’t as simple as I thought it was. Reader Arn_Thor left a really interesting comment underneath Monday’s Garbage Day.
“Oh, but the Millerites didn't disappear entirely,” they wrote. “The group morphed into the Adventist movement and the Seventh Day Adventist church. True to form with these things, they clam that Miller wasn't wrong about his calculations, just that he'd misunderstood. They say something did in fact happen on that day, just not something observable. (Rather than the second coming of Christ, that day was when Christ entered into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary — the beginning of the end times.) So these things always find an excuse to live on in a slightly altered form.”
And another reader named Heather made a similar point in an email reply. “While we have forgotten the Millerites, that movement breaking apart led directly to Seventh Day Adventists and indirectly to Jehovah's Witnesses, Baháʼí, and Mormons,” she said. “I particularly wonder if some [QAnon followers] will get more intensely religious and move in that direction while others become more of a secular internet thing like incels.”
I think these are both good points and, while we’re sort of taking a second here to imagine QAnon’s future, worth considering. I’ve been naively imagining a moment similar to the fantastic third season opener, where a Millerite family stands on their roof waiting for a doomsday that never arrives.
But I think it’s correct to assume QAnon will not vanish. It will morph or change into something else, or a myriad of other things. Its current form is almost certainly unsustainable, but the genie cannot go back in the bottle, either. And this moment of great change within the movement will most likely be its most dangerous. Just this week, a QAnon follower from Kentucky was accused of killing a QAnon-adjacent legal expert she was working with to try and regain custody of her children.
The Harambe Cycle
My friend Patrick reminded me this morning of a theory of the internet I came up with a few years ago. Back in 2016, memes about Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo that was shot and killed by a zoo worker after a three-year-old boy climbed into Harambe’s enclosure, were EVERYWHERE.
2016 was a real weird time for memes. The recent success of Gamergate, the political radicalization of 4chan, the ascendency of the online far right, and the Steven Bannonification of internet culture meant a lot of media outlets wholesale decided that all memes were fascist. I think this actually did a lot of damage in the long run. Instead of taking the time to write about internet culture with nuance, the anti-meme hysteria subsumed pretty much all of culture. Which, one could argue, was exactly what people like Steve Bannon hoped would happen. Which is how we ended up with some extremely intense coverage of the Harambe meme.
New York Times: “The Complicated Appeal of the Harambe Meme”
Were Harambe memes being used by rascists and fascists in 2016? Absolutely. An emergent American extremist movement had realized that digital culture was a free and infinitely scalable recruitment tool for white underemployed millennial men. Every meme was weaponized. Was the Harambe meme, which boiled down to an absurd joke about mourning a dead gorilla the way the internet typically mourns a dead celebrity, in and of itself racist? I’m not so sure.
Instead, in 2016, I believed something else was happening. I’m about to quote my own tweet here and, for that, I am deeply ashamed. “[The Harambe meme] is what happens when a meme is too weird and tasteless for brands to co-opt and ruin: It spirals out of control,” I tweeted. “We need brands to ruin memes. It keeps the ecosystem diverse. Harambe memes are what happens when memes don't get monetized and die.”
My friend Patrick reminded me of my Harambe Cycle theory this morning when he sent me this extremely bad tweet:
It’s been interesting to go back and read my own old thoughts about the interplay between brands and internet culture. I more or less still agree with myself, but I think I can communicate my thoughts a little more clearly now:
I think capitalism preys on digital culture and I think brands and corporate entities effectively kill any idea created by people by monetizing it. The difference between a medium like TV and the internet is that the content you see on TV, due to the costs involved with production and distribution, can only be created by people with access to capital. The internet (at least in theory) allows users of any social class or race to produce popular culture. It disseminates peer-to-peer until it reaches a critical mass and explodes upward and outward. This is immensely powerful and the reason why huge corporations have invested so much time and money into corrupting that mechanism. It’s also the same reason extremely wealthy conservatives like the Mercer family are so obsessed with harvesting the data and network effect of working people via things like Cambridge Analytica and, most recently, right-wing Twitter clone Parler.
When memes aren’t co-opted for commerce, they tend to get weirder and weirder until they’re basically nonsense. And in 2016, I had a very precious understanding of web culture, feeling like it was a candle trying to stay alight in a storm — if memes aren’t cool anymore or drag on too long, there may never be another one! But four years later, I think meme culture is essentially infinite and I don’t really want brands anywhere near it.
Let’s Talk About The Very Large TikTok Woman
This video was sent to me by my friend Bijan and it has thoroughly broken my brain. I did some digging because I needed to know as much as I could find about this TikTok user. Here’s what I’ve got for you:
Her name is Yekaterina Lisina
She’s a Russian supermodel
She has two Guinness World Records: woman with the longest legs and tallest professional model
The man in the video is 5’7
Her TikTok account is full of videos of her doing the same leg trick to supportive short kings. We have to stan. Also, I’m very excited Lil Nas X is back. I think he’s a genuine source of joy in popular culture right now. His Christmas single is very good and apparently his Roblox concert was watched 33 million times.
Here’s A Very Soothing Instagram Account
I came across this account thanks to Big Spaceship’s Internet Brunch newsletter. It’s kind of like Garbage Day if it didn’t ever talk about hentai or furries.
And Finally, One More Good Video
P.S. here’s an XKCD comic you should read.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***