Taking out a student loan to learn to tweet like Taco Bell
Read to the end for some cute comics about the Olympics
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Please Don’t Get A Master’s In Social Media
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a piece titled, “Social-Media Manager, the Most Millennial Job, Comes of Age”. It’s paywalled, but a screenshot of the piece was shared by Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims, who wrote, “Does the person who tweets for your brand account have a master’s in social media? Maybe they should.”
Mims’ tweet kicked off a multi-day Twitter meltdown about whether or not someone should go into a graduate program to get a degree in posting tweets for brands. For what it’s worth, I thought Mims’ tweet and the WSJ at the center of the discourse were both interesting looks at the cultural shift around how we think about social media. The punchline that social media accounts are run by an intern was never true, but it feels extremely out-of-touch to say that now. This was my favorite take on the “social media master’s” content cycle:
It’s funny because it’s true. Also, ask anyone who has ever worked in a support position in digital media and they will tell you that a lot of people who get high-level degrees related to digital content production are genuine sociopaths. Fun fact: the reason my username was “ryanhatesthis” on social platforms for a long time was because I had a college professor who was one of these kinds of people. He forced his students to make Twitter accounts for class and I thought he was a moron so I made mine “ryanhatesthis”.
Anyways, the bigger problem with getting any kind of degree “in social media” is that social platforms are more walled-off and specialized than ever before. Going to graduate school and learning how to pick the best 30 seconds to put at the beginning of your audio-optional captioned short-form social video would be like getting doctorate in Myspace CSS. In theory, you might learn some stuff that will help you with new platforms, but you’re probably just going to spend a lot of time and money to learn about stuff that won’t even exist by the time you graduate.
Which is funny because every time everyone starts arguing about this sort of thing, no one ever brings up community management or moderation — a field of study that actually really hasn’t changed much since the first message board came online. And I know a lot of very smart folks who have gotten graduate or even doctorate level degrees in online community studies. Also, it would actually probably help a lot of brands better understand what their users want if they hired some smart folks who understand how to organize communities on the internet. Of course, it’s probably worth pointing out that the reason community management doesn’t get included in this conversation is because most brands don’t actually WANT to understand what their users want and really just want a way to get a ton of eyeballs on their content and not get canceled. Either way, please don’t get a master’s to learn how to do this.
The Warring 50 Shades Of Grey Fandoms
There are some very fascinating things happening in this tweet. First, as pointed out by Twitter user @JennyENicholson, 50 Shades Of Grey actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have massive stan armies that appear to hate each other. I looked into this and it seems like specifically Jamie Dornan stans hate Dakota Johnson? I’ve read a lot of these tweets and I can’t figure out what the inciting incident was here. Though the warring stan armies may have something to do with rumors that Dornan and Johnson don’t like each other?
But I also am very interested in the language used in the tweet above, specifically, “he can’t even trend.” I feel like this has been a thing for a while, but the idea that stan armies are using Twitter’s trending topics as some kind of leaderboard for their particular fandom or fixation really just adds to how broken a lot of these systems are. Companies like Twitter claim their trending topics are somehow useful — and objective! — indicators of what’s going on around the app, meanwhile, internet communities full of very bored children are gaming them as a way to compete with one another, thus rendering them largely artificial.
The Insurrection Hearings Begin
Yesterday was the first hearing from the select committee investigating the 1/6 insurrection on the Capitol. Four police officers, Pfc. Harry Dunn, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone, and Daniel Hodges gave emotional statements and answered questions from the mostly Democratic committee members. The committee only has two Republicans on it, Rep. Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
The right-wing propaganda machine was in full swing yesterday on Twitter, with influencers shaming the officers for tearing up or talking openly about trauma. I don’t want to dwell on all of this too much, we still have a long road ahead and I doubt the horrifying details that came out yesterday will be the only new unsettling facts we learn about that day, but I did want to include this CNN clip from last night. Officer Fanone shared a voicemail he received as he was testifying. It’s really hard to listen to, but I think it’s important.
Looking For A Place To Buy Pounds Of Confiscated Knives?
I discovered this site thanks to a tweet from Twitter user @pervocracy. It’s one of those things where you’re surprised it exists but then you’re also immediately like, “of course there’s an eBay for stuff the TSA confiscates from you.” Here’s how the site describes itself:
When government and educational agencies face the dilemma of how to navigate the waters of surplus disposition, GovDeals is a lifeline to help compliantly manage the sale of their surplus inventory. GovDeals prevents this process from becoming a drag on their time and resources.
A Good Tweet
Meet Pandemio, Mexico’s Vaccine Mascot
This was sent to me by Fana. Meet Pandemio, he’s a panda mascot that dances at vaccination centers in Mexico City. At one point in this video he dances so hard his panda head sort of pops off for a second. Very impressive. I feel like America wouldn’t be having as nearly as tough a time as it’s having if we could all get behind a dancing vaccincation mascot to get us psyched up for the jab.
Pinterest Launches Monetization Features
Starting today, certain users on Pinterest will be able to post “shoppable” pins. These shoppable pins look like Instagram stories and can include links to product pages. You can see it in action here.
This basically means that now, in theory, every major platform has tools for users to monetize their content. Pinterest was basically the last major platform that didn’t have some kind of digital tip jar, so this sort of thing was sort of inevitable. Though, Pinterest’s shoppable pins are directed specifically at influencers — only certain accounts right now have the feature.
I brought this up on Monday, bu this really marks a massive shift in digital culture. In the span of basically a decade, we’ve gone from it being completely laughable to get paid to post on social media and pay to use social media to it basically now being the standard. I’m not sure what this will mean in the long-term for the way the web works — though I suspect the most immediate side effect will be rampant piracy and dehumanizing conditions for creators — but this feels like a very big deal.
A Twitter Account Gets A TV Show
Netflix is developing an animated series based on a Twitter account called Chicago Party Aunt, which I’ve never heard of before and has under 50,000 followers. Here’s a recent post from the account:
A Chicago news station called the account “beloved,” so maybe this is just another example of how Chicago is a hermetically sealed cultural bubble? It’s all very weird. News of Chicago Party Aunt getting picked up by Netflix got rationed incredibly hard. You can see the over 3000 absolutely brutal quote tweets here lol. Users are mad that the animation style is that same flat ugly look that shows like Family Guy and Big Mouth have.
But wait, this is actually weirder. The Chicago Party Aunt account, which, once again, I have literally never heard of before, was created in 2016 by actor and comedian Chris Witaske, who has been in Netflix shows like Love. And, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Netflix was part of the reveal that Witaske was the person behind the account?
Maybe I have some Chicago-based readers who give me some context I’m missing because I just do not get what’s going on here.
A Tumblr User Plays A Little Prank On Reddit
A Reddit user named u/WED6671 posted a question to Reddit’s r/AmItheAsshole subreddit last week, asking if it was ok that they fired a really old woman who was make their life miserable at the company they took over from their dad. Here’s a chunk of the question:
My advisor (F, I don’t actually know how old she is, but she’s OLD) has been giving me problems lately. I didn’t appoint her, she’s been advisor since at least my dad’s time and probably longer, I’ve known her since I was born, and she clearly thinks she can run things better than me. She used to make comments about it, which I could handle, but now she’s arranging meetings behind my back, approving things without my permission, and lying to other people about what I want done. I’ve talked to her several times about this, and she acts all apologetic but does the same thing again the next week. I’ve also tried talking to her assistant because I get along well with him. He’s a nice guy but dumb as a rock, and at the end of the day has no influence over what she does.
The post has since been deleted, but you can read all the comments here. Most of the users immediately realized this is the plot to the movie The Emperor’s New Groove. Though one user wrote, “ESH — she shouldn’t try and do that, but you sound very egotistical and rude while typing all this out.” To which u/WED6671 replied, “But she threw off my groove!”
Well, Tumblr user torchlake is taking credit for the post. They shared a screenshot of the whole post on their blog writing, “I made a reddit account specifically to make this post. Let’s see how this plays out.”
This is a pretty good troll. I remember reading this post and having like a genuine opinion about it. I’m not totally clear why exactly, but I’ve recently become very into reading Reddit relationship subs when I wake up in the morning. There have been so many messy COVID wedding posts going up in the last few months.
A New Leon Album Is Dropping This Week
I’ve writren about Leon Chang in Garbage Day before. He’s an incredibly talented internet artist. His Bird World albums are super fun and a really cool example of using the internet to create something wholly unique — in this case soundtracks to a video game franchise that doesn’t exist.
Chang is dropping a new album later this week, it’s called Leon Mode and it’s based on early-00s rhythm games. This is extremely my shit. I had a hardcore Dance Dance Revolution addiction for many years. Yes, that’s right, this newsletter is written by someone who could clear “Max 300” on Heavy.
The Young Thug Tiny Desk Concert
This Tiny Desk concert with Young Thug is simply just an incredible vibe. Also, watch to the end for a Travis Barker cameo!
Some Stray Links
P.S. here are some cute comics about the Olympics.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***