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NFT drama has finally hit Tumblr
Read to the end for a really good TikTok
A Tumblr Fave Succumbs To NFT Discourse
A monumental event just went down on Tumblr. No, I’m not talking about the absurd App Store-induced ban of a bajillion innocent tags on the mobile app — that’s just another day in the life. And I’m also not talking about Horse Plinko.
A convenient video recap of the event I’m talking about, courtesy of user e-102, can be found here, but if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, or if you did watch it and are still confused, I’ll give a quick recap:
“urfaveisunfuckable” is what’s called a “gimmick blog,” a genre devoted to putting characters over Pride-style flags and declaring them to be a certain trait. This, of course, started with general blogs like “yourfaveisnonbinary,” but quickly evolved (devolved?) into highly specific gags like yourfaveisgoingtosuperhell and urfaveistransandplaysminecraft.
This week, a mod of the urfaveisunfuckable blog, an 18-year-old named Rhys, was exposed as a former NFT creator, and the rest of the blog’s mods proceeded to quit one by one during the ensuing drama explosion.
The references at the end of the video to “Sonic for Real Justice” refer to a legendary event that occurred at the height of Tumblr’s social justice moment in 2015, when it was a bubbling crucible of call-outs presaging the calcified cancellation ideology of the current decade. Basically, a bunch of mods for a Sonic the Hedgehog blog appeared to get in a massive fight with each other. Though, according to the blog of YouTuber Sarah Z, a popular Tumblr user under the name @dingdongyouarewrong, the Sonic For Real Justice debacle was probably a carefully planned comedic roleplay, which I figured everyone sort of knew. It was just too flawlessly hilarious a summation of the atmosphere on Tumblr back then.
But per the urfaveisunfuckable mods reporting to Sarah Z’s ask box, the NFT incident this week was no pantomime: it really did go down like that.
Teens feuding in public is nothing new to Tumblr. It’s basically the bedrock of the platform. What makes the urfaveisunfuckable debacle notable is the way it hinged almost completely on mod Rhys’s dark past as supporter and creator of NFTs. “Past” here being extremely funny when we’re talking about a fad that’s only been around seriously for like a year or two.
On Twitter, getting involved in crypto is, in many circles, what a Tumblr user might call “normalized.” Sure, there are plenty of outspoken critics, but you’re not going to get universally Scarlet-Lettered over it. But as demonstrated by this hilarious public meltdown, the mere mention of someone having minted a few NFTs once upon a time, or even merely having seriously considered doing it, is enough to bring an entire gimmick blog to its knees and provoke censure from the wider community, as well. It’s a striking demonstration of how deeply taboo crypto is for a wide stripe of young people — even moreso when the call is coming from inside the house, so to speak, versus being promoted by a celebrity or tech company. Defections by any given individual from a fandom community like Tumblr to NFT-land will have to be irreversible, because as urfaveisunfuckable has shown, there’s really no coming back from this.
[Ed. note: The content cycle around this whole thing is also a really good example of the burgeoning Discord/Tumblr pipeline I mentioned on Wednesday.]
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A Thought-Provoking Tweet
Ugh, Do I Really Have To Acknowledge January 6?
A year ago yesterday, insurrectionists stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Many of them were prepared to kidnap or even kill members of federal government in order to prove that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. None of the events that happened a year ago materialized out of thin air. America is a country with a long and horrifying history of white supremacist mob violence. But also what happened last year could not have happened as it did without the mainstream media transmitting every incendiary thought to come out of Trump’s mouth for five years and the networking effect of Facebook, particularly the platform’s Events feature, which had been used in countless other countries, such as France, to organize protests that similarly spiraled out of control.
A year later, many of the insurrectionists that stormed the Capitol are in jail, but many more are not. The media is still reporting on every demented thing that Trump says, even if he no longer can tweet, and many outlets have also spent this week bending over backwards to find some kind of way to view the events of last year as a reasonable differing of opinion. And, though thousands of documents have since leaked showing that Facebook knew and actively covered up the radicalizing effects of its services, the only thing that has changed for the company is its name. It has basically not been held accountable for what it facilitated and is still wildly unregulated. And the content being promoting by its algorithms is even more extremist than it was a year ago. The Republican party has changed since January 6, 2021, though.
They have spent the year working tirelessly to restrict voting rights, pushed their most unhinged and radical followers into positions of local governance, turned schools into ideological war zones, and have been able to effectively “flood the zone with shit” without any real scrutiny from the country’s mainstream media or Democratic establishment. Biden’s administration, and many legacy media outlets, still think we can compromise with people who are ready to kill to get what they want. At this point it is almost inconceivable that the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will be able to put this genie back in the bottle. Even if they do surface some of smoking gun, it is highly unlikely to quell the storm the Republicans have kicked up. And even less likely for any reasonable reporting of what the committee finds to reach the average American's News Feed.
I’ll be honest, I’m scared and spend a lot of my time trying not to freak out all of this! And spend even more time trying not to bum out Garbage Day readers by covering every troubling update in this space. I’ve also found myself simply not thinking about my own future anymore. The combined uncertainty of COVID and the possible loss of democracy in the US is simply too much for me to think about! It feels like there’s no real roadmap for where we are now. There are simply too many variables. I’m trying to be optimistic, but it’s not easy. For instance, here’s Nancy Pelosi introducing Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Hamilton cast at an anniversary event for insurrection 🥴🥴🥴
Thank you, Nancy, you’ve healed the country.
One More Jan. 6 Thing
I shared this in a Garbage Day issue a year ago and I think it’s worth revisiting now. tbh I feel pretty comfortable saying this is actually the best piece of writing produced about both the insurrection and maybe the last 10 years of American politics? Though, reading this a year later, there’s a new layer of ominous uncertainty about what exactly happens after “the sun goes down” that I find unsettling.
OK, But What If We Made This The Vibe For 2022?
How The Hindu Nationalist Info War Machine Works
I am so fascinated by how Hindu nationalist cyber warfare works. I got to see a bit of it up close during a trip to India many years ago and I was shocked out how systematic and deliberate it tends to be. My favorite story about this was when activists got into a Google Doc that far-right trolls were using to coordinate tweets and edited them, causing the trolls to mindlessly tweet out the wrong thing en masse.
Indian news site The Wire was able to get into a local right-wing cyber warfare app called Tek Fog and published their findings about it this week. It’s fascinating! And you should read the whole piece. Here are a few things that jumped out:
It has a hashtag hub, which allows users to easily share trending topics with a few clicks.
It can “hijack” inactive WhatsApp accounts and use them to transmit propaganda.
And it has a targeted harassment database organized by things like occupation, gender, and even how the target looks physically.
It’s an absolutely nasty piece of work and I’m going to bet that the use of an app like this isn’t only happening in India.
A Point About Web3 I Hadn’t Considered
I’ve been writing a lot about both the creator economy and Web3 lately so I’m actually a little embarrassed I hadn’t thought of this yet. Aaron Levie, the CEO of collaboration platform Box, was on the Big Technology podcast recently and made a really fascinating point about the conflicts of interest that arise when your users are token holders:
As a user of a product you should just really want the cheapest possible product with the most amount of utility. Like if I could get my entire internet for free — I would want to not pay for anything. As a user, you eventually want the cheapest possible solution, as a shareholder, as much profit accruing to your shareholdings as possible. And so, depending on where you are in the economy — the user, you want cheap stuff. And if you’re a shareholder, you want expensive stuff. Now when you combine those two groups — the user and the shareholder — the question is two-fold. Do you start to create this very difficult decision tree for your users of what kind of product feedback are they giving you? Are they giving you that feedback because they want to make more money as a token holder or are they giving you that feedback because they want more value as a user?
It’s a fascinating dilemma! Web 2.0 has a lot of problems and I think it’s reasonable to argue that Web 2.0 platforms are bloated and slow now, but in the beginning, they were very quick to respond to user behavior. Most of Twitter’s most popular features — which, like the hashtag, have become near-universal standards — were created via open and honest user feedback. Levie makes a great point that if Web3 is onboarding users that have financial incentives in the products they’re interacting with, it’s unlikely that these projects will get the honest feedback needed to actually build something decent. No one wants to piss in the punch bowl, so to speak, if everyone’s trying to make equity for their tokens.
While we’re talking about crypto, here’s a funny thing:
One Of My Favorite YouTube Series Comes To A Close
I wrote about Gwarsenio Hall’s high school CD reviews a while back. The TL;DR is that the host of a YouTube death metal-themed talk show got a bunch of old albums from his mom and spent the year revisiting them. All of his reviews are extremely funny, but this ranking of all of them he released recently is also fantastic.
A Genius Invention
According to an Unseen Japan explanation, “A Twitter user shows off something they invented in middle school: An insert that lets you squeeze just *one more* book into your bookshelf without damaging the book. Judging by the comments, they seem to have a hit product on their hands.”
A Very Interesting Eurovision Song With Very Interesting Lyrics
Click here to read the lyrics 👀 (NSFWish)
A Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
“The Ticking Bomb of Crypto Fascism” (I’m actually not totally sure how much I agree with this, but I thought it was interesting, nonetheless.)
P.S. here’s a really good TikTok.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***