The hustle zombies have broken the perimeter
Read to the end for jishes
A little programming note: I am going on two short breaks! I’ll be off next week and the week of August 14. I’ll be mostly reachable in all the usual ways and probably be checking in on the Discord if you need me! Also, I saw some confusion about this. When you sign up for a paid subscription, that’s when you get a link for the Discord. Let me know if you need a new one. And if you’re interested in subscribing and checking it out, you can hit the button below.
Could You Imagine Anything More Mortifying Than Paying For Twitter Lessons?
So last week, I wrote about men (and sometimes girlbosses) who identify as “founders” and spend a lot of time writing cringe threads on Twitter. A couple readers reached out, however, and told me there’s a reason I completely missed as to why a lot of these weird men are tweeting long, bad threads about productivity hacks or whatever. Apparently, people are selling courses on how to do this on Gumroad. Sorry if this was common knowledge, but I had no idea this kind of thing had become so formalized.
If you’ve never heard of Gumroad, it’s an online marketplace that I think has actually, very quietly, become one of the better online marketplaces out there. I use it pretty often to buy music production plugins.
Anyways, I have been scrolling, slack-jawed through a bunch of these Twitter classes for “founders” on Gumroad for the last week. The Twitter guides I’ve seen seem to range from $100-$200 and, from what I can tell, they’re basically just PDFs on how to aggressively co-opt trending content in order to position yourself as an expert in some particular niche or interest so you can then turn around and sell digital content back to your Twitter audience. And a lot of these gurus have decided Twitter’s trending algorithm loves over-promoting threads.
My initial theory about the sudden rancid LinkedIn vibes popping up on Twitter right now was that Twitter users tend to either imitate or rage against whoever the biggest, most popular dumbass is on the site and right now it’s Elon Musk. So everyone’s an entrepreneur all of a sudden. But after digging around in the backwaters of Gumroad, I’m wondering if there’s something a bit larger at play here.
Like radiation levels emanating from buried nuclear waste on the edge of town, the amorphous blob of e-commerce people on the internet have always sort of been out there, on the periphery of the mainstream, promoting books that help you write books that help you sell courses that help you write newsletters that help you sell the books that help others write books that help them sell courses tha—
If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, just to really nail it down, it’s the people with the prominently displayed TEDx talks embedded on their websites and the self-published eBooks and Medium pieces and the not-actually-that-glamorous Instagram photos of their laptop precariously perched near resort pools. These people advertise a lifestyle of passive income and digital nomadism and promise, for a fee, to help you achieve their lifestyle in which they make money but just sort of vaguely talking about money. I’ve covered different facets of this blob for a while now. But I never really looked at the whole picture until now.
So while there are the thread weirdos on Twitter, it’s not just happening there. Last year, I did a whole YouTube video about TikTok landlords and passive income influencers. And, of course, these people also love crypto and are riding that wave across multiple social platforms. And there’s also still a huge community of armchair Medium piece writers. And then there’s this layer beneath that where everyone’s selling each other hustle guides on Gumroad.
Taken as a whole, instead of the somewhat benign nuisance this community has been historically, instead, I’m beginning to wonder if the fact we’re noticing this kind of stuff more often is because algorithmic recommendations are breaking down.
If everything works as it should, you shouldn’t ever encounter these people. At no point in our short history of large-scale social media platforms has there ever been a time when thinkfluencers, hustle bros, or “founders,” as they’re calling themselves now, were promoted or amplified on purpose. Largely because they don’t add anything of value to a network. This was as true 15 years ago when these people wore Google Glass and were publishing weird embed-heavy blog posts about how the future of business was using Foursquare checkins to sell Groupons as it is now that they’re shilling NFTs and selling discount tickets to their Instagram Stories workshops. If you see a chiropractor-turned-life-coach teaching you the 10 core tenets of personal investment in a Facebook live video, you have to assume that some extremely dark mechanisms of digital content creation led to that popping up in your feed. But, every so often, the various interconnected systems that power the internet align in the wrong way and the e-commerce sludge becomes noticeable again.
And if that’s happening now, but it’s across every platform at once and it’s noticeably becoming more prominent, it has to make you wonder how strong these now-very-old content platforms are and how good of a job they are doing at recommending content now that everyone sort of know how to manipulate them.
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A Damn Good Tweet
Some Fun Insider Info About Pitching A Netflix Show
Here’s another little update on a story I wrote about last week. Netflix is not doing well. They’re spending a lot of money and they lost over a million subscribers last quarter. I don’t know what it’s like on the inside of Netflix, but based on my experience with digital video production on sites like Facebook and Youtube, I wonder if Netflix content is getting worse in the same way all video content for algorithmic platforms tends to degrade over time. A company thinks their data is better than it is and it steers them to uglier and uglier places.
After I wrote that piece, I was contacted by a former script coordinator for a Netflix comedy that aired on the streamer across 2015-2016. They told me it was a moment when the company was optioning a lot of content and the general vibe from executives was to have fun and experiment and make something you really cared about. But they also told me that at no point did they ever have any idea what their viewership numbers were. They were given one metric, though. How many people stopped watching or kept watching the season after the first episode.
This Does Not Make Me Think Coinbase Has Very Good Priorities At The Moment
I don’t run a crypto exchange. But let’s say I did. And let’s say that the crypto exchange I run was quietly sunsetting an affiliate marketing program amid an SEC investigation and its stock was falling. You know what I’d probably put a pause on? The weird bad NFT animated series I commissioned for no reason.
But, like I said, I don’t run a crypto exchange. So what do I know.
Another Healthy Tech Company Behaving Normally
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, released a video Tuesday acknowledging how much everyone hates the new updates the platform is adding. Even the Kardashians have spoken up, demanding that Instagram stop trying to become TikTok. Unfortunately, Instagram is owned by Meta and Meta thinks that internet users still want to use the internet the way they did a decade ago and are dead set on cramming more features into an already bloated and soulless app that makes no sense. (People nowadays tend to like having different apps that do different things and reach different social graphs, sorry Zuck.)
Mosseri’s video is a mess. Not since I lived in London during Brexit have I seen such an overwhelming display of confident self-annihilation. Well, at least Meta’s big bet on VR is working… Actually, the company announced Tuesday that they’re increasing the cost of both of their Oculus headsets by $100.
So I actually have a Quest 2. I bought it for a project I’m working on. I really like it. I love Beat Saber and this game that’s sort of like Fornite called Gun Raiders. I think the Quest 2 is a genuinely exciting piece of technology and there are moments using it where I feel completely immersed. It also makes me nauseous almost all the time, it’s extremely uncomfortable to wear for more than an hour, it’s kind of heavy, I haven’t touched it in a month, and thought it was overpriced when I bought it. It’s not good for small apartments or to be used when I’m with other people. Curious to see if it’ll sell better now that it costs more.
Fun fact: I’m writing this from Italy right now actually. I’m here for a nice relaxing little break, to go to friend’s wedding, and to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday (which is today — she told me to tell the Garbage Day readers). But right after I landed, Italy dissolved its government and now has 70 days to vote in a new one. One of the candidates getting a lot of attention is named Giorgia Meloni. She’s a former journalist and the leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party. She continually insists that her party aren’t fascists, which should give you an idea of how fascist they are.
But as the absolutely must-follow Twitter account Populism Updates pointed out, a big part of Meloni’s current popularity is actually thanks to a EDM remix of a particularly homophobic speech of hers from 2019.
Populism Updates, which covers the insane and bizarre developments in late-stage democracy around the world, has a great thread about how DJs who were upset with Meloni’s incendiary speech remixed it to lampoon it, but it ended up going very viral as genuine dance song. And now Bloomberg is reporting this week that her party is well on its way to securing a super majority. Obviously, the song alone isn’t responsible, but it definitely helped. Remember folks, you can’t defeat fascists with memes because all memes can and will be co-opted by fascists.
The “Hungover Gym Bro”
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This is a great TikTok account. @tm_icecream has a game where they roll dice that correspond to different cocktail ingredients, which they then mix and drink. The video above features a cocktail that has Keto workout powder in it. Which is why it’s called the Hungover Gym Bro. It sounds awful! I love it.
An Interesting New Tumblr Update
I’ve been a bit of a crank lately. I clearly need a vacation. So I wanted to highlight something new that popped up on Tumblr that I liked. Tumblr’s mobile app, which is one of the three most-used apps on my phone, just added a new tab for following tags. The ability to follow tags has been part of Tumblr’s feature set for a while now, but making it more prominent on mobile has almost convinced me to start using it.
I’ve found myself more and more often going to check a Tumblr tag after watching a movie or a TV show the same way I’d go check out a subreddit and I’ve been curious about getting more invested in tags, as whole. I’ll also say that if you’re someone who keeps putting off building out a Tumblr account again, this might be an easier way to do it than going and finding good users to follow.
A Smiths Cover That Goes Insanely Hard
Absolutely in awe of how much this song rips and how stacked this line up is. Thursday guy! My Chemical Romance guitar guy! Guy from PUP! Director David Wain! And they’re all together covering one of my favorite songs “This Charming Man,” which was written by a band from the 80s called The Smiths. Weirdly, no one knows who the lead singer of the Smiths was. It’s been lost to time forever, much in the same way no one knows who wrote the seminal British sitcom Father Ted.
Anyways, if you’re a fan of heavy music, I really can’t recommend Two Minutes To Late Night enough. Their High School CD Booklet Reviews is my go to lunchtime YouTube watch.
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s jishes.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***