The puncher of West 4th Street
Read to the end for a TikTok that I cannot get out of my head
New TikTok Conspiracy Theory Dropped
This was dropped into the Garbage Day Discord by user DanGio. It’s a fascinating new viral panic spreading on TikTok. This time it’s about a woman supposedly randomly attacking people at the West 4th subway stop in New York City.
The whole thing kicked off last month thanks to a TikTok video by a user named @avoid_a_void_, real name Kaelee Boussarie. In her video, which has now been viewed over a million times, Boussarie claims that she was punched in the face at the West 4th subway stop and then posted videos of her bruised face.
According to a Curbed piece, Boussarie said she spoke to police about the attack, but did not file a formal report. Both a booth agent and a security guard working at the station told Curbed that there haven’t been any notable attacks there recently.
"I was walking quickly and gauging how to weave through the people in front of me, one of which was the lady who had attacked me,” Boussarie told Newsweek. “I'm not sure if it was how I looked or what, but she slid over without any notice and stuck her arm out, cocked it back, and punched me in the face very hard.”
After Boussarie’s video went viral, other users started sharing reports of being attacked at the same subway stop. TikTok users are even heading to the West 4th stop and making videos about the “puncher”.
There seems to be a new weird pattern forming with trending TikTok content. Starting with the TikTok commune last spring, there are now moments where TikTok’s algorithm will settle on a physical location and endlessly promote content about it to users. In May, we had Adrian’s Kickback, where a random event to hang out at a beach turned into a viral trending topic, which then turned into a small riot. Then, in August, the app was overwhelmed with videos from Alabama sorority rush week, which, at the time, I described as a localized viral content storm which was then hovering over the various sorority houses of the state of Alabama. And, then last week, users on app became obsessed with a minor car accident at a random intersection in Florida.
It seems reasonable to assume that these will continue to speed up in frequency and increase in intensity. The app’s recommendation algorithm is incredibly powerful, with its central feed, the For You page, updating in near-real-time to what you’re looking at. Your friend sends you a TikTok of a dog, you click over to your For You page, suddenly it’s all videos of dogs. Focusing that kind of algorithm on a physical location, it turns out, can be insanely powerful.
Most of the West 4th puncher stuff is kind of silly and goofy, with people jumping on the hashtag to make jokes about it. But there are also videos of people filming themselves walking through the subway station with brass knuckles, looking for a woman who matches the description that Boussarie gave in a subsequent video about the attack. That, to me, is scary. Plus, the narrative around the West 4th puncher is beginning to spin out of control, with users claiming they’ve been punched by her or even slashed with a knife. Once again, there is no evidence that any of this is real.
In the long-term, I’m definitely worried that these local TikTok content storms could morph into very violent panics, but in the short-term, I think I’m more scared that we’re going to end up with flashmobs again.
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A Good Tweet
Twitch Is Straight Up Not Having A Good Time Right Now
Following the massive hack and leak of all of Twitch — like all of it — last week, hackers were able to get into the site over the weekend and replaced different landing pages with zoomed in photos of Jeff Bezos. I assume there will be more Twitch-related cyberwarfare to come. Personal information and email addresses were not included in last week’s leak. If you’re looking for more analysis on the Twitch hack, I highly recommend the Washington Post’s Launcher video game vertical.
The Chicken Fried Egg
You can watch the original version of this absolutely unbelievable video here. The man behind this incredible recipe goes by Pepper Belly Pete. Hell yeah, brother.
Now, there are a lot of important details to talk about in this chicken fried egg video, but the thing I want to focus on is his hot sauce arm holder. Let me be clear. It is the dopest thing I have ever seen in my life and I am extremely excited to tell you that in a video he published literally just this morning — a recipe for what he calls “chicken fried breakfast bombs,” which are sausage patties with an egg on a piece of potato fried up in a ball — he explains what the sauce armband is. He calls it his “spice band” and it’s actually a 12-gauge shotgun shell holder. Hoooooo baby.
Facebook Audio Is Here
Months after the whole world forgot that live social audio was supposed to be the future of tech, Facebook Audio officially arrives this week. For US users, inside the Facebook app there’s now an entire suite of audio features on the Watch tab. I’d say the fact Facebook stuffed its Clubhouse clone and podcast widgets, things that by definition cannot be watched, inside of Facebook Watch says all you need to know about the company’s understanding of audio.
As janky as the interface is and as basic as the offerings are, make no mistake, a bunch of random motivational speakers and antivax chiropractors are going to become podcasting superstars with this thing.
Oh, while we’re talking about Facebook. Good news! You can no longer use Facebook Marketplace to sell pieces of the Amazon rain forest.
A Redditor Made a 50-Hour Chronological MCU Edit
A redditor edited every piece of MCU footage together into a 9-part, 100-gigabyte mega movie. It rearranges all the scenes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe into chronological order. Here’s how the user, u/pizzabyron describes it:
It’s every MCU movie from Iron Man to Endgame cut into chronological scene order. For instance, the whole thing opens with the Dark Elves from Thor Dark World because that happened thousands of years ago. Then it progresses through the timeline by year in universe. There’s a lot of fun cutting around in Phase 1 between Iron Man, Thor and Hulk and in Phase 3 with Civil War with some Spidey stuff, just for example. Every Marvel One Shot is included. There’s also deleted, alternate, and extended scenes from almost every movie. There are also scenes only from the Phase 1 and 2 box sets and the Infinity Saga box set. There’s also extra Marvel content like Team Thor and other random bonus content. As well as key flashback scenes from Wandavision, Falcon Winter Solider and Loki. Now fully updated with Black Widow.
Apparently, the project took 6-8 months to finish. Unclear if this would even make sense as a “movie” or “story,” but I do kind of want to watch it…
An Investigation Into The Rise Of Scene Queens
This video is great and super interesting. It does a great job connecting the rise of the scene kid style to Myspace’s early networking effect, as well as how scene queens basically invented the concept of an influencer.
Another Good Tweet
We Have To Talk About r/AnarchyChess
r/AnarchyChess is a subreddit dedicated to chess memes. Over the last month, a user named u/scurlocc has been using the subreddit’s community to play an increasingly unhinged game of “chess”. The top comment of a post determines the next move, whether it’s legal or not. So far the winning moves have included:
Following this whole project is actually really difficult, but you can see all of u/scurlocc’s posts here.
Another Chaotic Chess Thing
Thanks to a viral Tumblr post from a user named homo-sex-shoe-whale, I recently learned about the existence a Steam game called 5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel which sounds incredibly funny. The game allows you to move your pieces back in time, which creates branching realities.
According to homo-sex-shoe-whale, they played a game in which they created so many branching timelines that their computer crashed.
Some Stray Links
This absolutely batshit VICE article about the theory that the earth is a giant crystal
P.S. here’s a TikTok that I cannot get out of my head. (Here’s a Tumblr mirror for folks in non-TikTok regions.)