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Snapchat Has A Paid Viral Leaderboard Now

I haven’t used Snapchat in a long time. I basically logged on the first month it came out, registered the user name ryan420bongking, and then promptly forgot about it. I could never make it work within the rest of my online life for some reason. But it appears the app is still very much alive. It has around 380 million monthly active users, so clearly it’s not just being used by drug dealers and insider traders.

Today, Snapchat launched a feature its calling Spotlight. Places like The Verge, CNN, and Fast Company are calling it Snapchat’s version of TikTok. It’s a central feed within the app that will be full of viral content — like TikTok’s For You Page. Snapchat is so invested in, uh, making their app feature the exact same kind of homogenous platform slurry that every other app features that it has set aside $1 million that it will be paying popular creators with every day.

The most charitable take on this I’ve seen so far was from my friend Alex Hern over at The Guardian. He saw it as Snap trying to make the act of going viral less horrible and awful for individual users. “Anyone who's gone viral on here knows that, broadly… it sucks,” he tweeted. “It renders the platform unusable, opens you up to abuse and harassment, and has barely any upside. Snap's deal is basically ‘lose the downside, and take the upside in cash rather than followers’.”

Though, in a follow up tweet, I think he got closer to what is making me feel so uncomfortable about Spotlight. “Obviously the flipside of this feature is that Snapchat's trying to build a viral content machine *without* creating an empowered creator class which can start threatening to take their fans elsewhere,” he wrote.

This is the thing. Online social platforms, as they currently exist, make so much ungodly money for the same reason apps like Uber or AirBnb do. These platforms are just normal companies except they’ve convinced their customers to do the expensive and difficult parts of the business for free. Instead of paying a staff to make entertaining things, a platform like Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat incentivizes users to make their own content. And instead of paying editors or producers to organize that content, they build algorithms to automate how it’s curated. Snapchat literally building a viral lottery to incentivize its users to make memes is just another extremely grim step in this direction.

Plenty of digital media companies have leaderboards and traffic goals, but they unfortunately have pay for things like employee salaries and benefits. Snapchat’s revolutionary idea here seems to be turning digital media production into a gacha game. Make a meme, post it to Snapchat, crank the lever, and see if you win the $1 million pot.

idk seems bad!

Let’s Check In On Anti-Vax TikTok

The above video is from a TikTok account called @itstaylorrousseau. From what I can tell, she has deleted this video, but as Twitter user @C0INCELPR0 pointed out, a bunch of other users have recreated her video.

If you don’t have the time or psychic stamina to get through the whole video, here’s what happens. It’s set to a slowed down version of singer James Arthur’s song “Train Wreck” and it shows someone being forced by the government to get a COVID-19 vaccine. When the person refuses to get the vaccine, they die, and are then taken to heaven where God rewards them for dying? I’ve watched it a few times and I’m a little unclear about it.

While these videos are absolutely cringe, I went through @itstaylorrousseau’s account and I don’t think she’s a QAnon follower. She seems like a pretty standard Christian influencer. And Insider put together a really good piece last month about the wider trend of anti-COVID-19 vaccination videos popping up all over the app.

I have very complicated thoughts about this sort of thing. I’m not so sure these videos are the horrifying sign of the downfall of America, the way some folks on Twitter seem to think they are. I have an easier time believing these (mostly) teenagers are just being idiots, rather than America’s youth suddenly being redpilled into antivaxxers. Plus, while most of the coverage about TikTok is centered around the app’s teenage mega-influencers, the majority of its users appear to be weird theater kids, largely from middle or working class American suburbs. But, as that Insider article points out, very real antivax activists using these antivax joke videos to try and actually recruit people. And as we learned with 4chan in 2015, ironic radicalization is real radicalization.

Which sucks! I wish I had a more nuanced take on this, but it sucks. The idea that, because of the way these online platforms are currently designed, we’re all being held hostage by literally the worst fucking people on Earth. Every stupid piece of trending content is like catnip for cultists and nazis trying to use memes to turn our brains into mashed potatoes. I have to imagine it wasn’t always like this and it doesn’t need to continue to be this way. Anyways, here’s a good parody video.

A Cool Normal House

This was sent to me by my friend Cates and it’s damn is it a good real estate listing. One of the weirder, but I suppose, nicer, side effects of the pandemic has been the resurgence of people sharing extremely cursed Zillow listings. The New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz is a big advocate. My friend Samir has been doing a show(?) on TikTok where he rates celebrity real estate listings and I watch every single one of his videos.

This listing here is from Fort Worth, Texas. And as you can see in the above photo, the outside of the house is pretty standard! The inside? Deliciously insane.

I googled the address to see if I could find anything out about the previous owners, but I didn’t have any luck. The home is currently listed for $186,572 and, honestly, I think it’s a steal.

CHECK OUT THESE CEILINGS! It’s the perfect home for an aspiring lounge singer or some kind French Dauphin. You’re probably saying, Ryan, what 👏🏻 about 👏🏻 the 👏🏻 bath 👏🏻 tub 👏🏻? Well, great question. It’s, obviously, heart shaped.

The Supernatural Finale Fall Out Continues

Supernatural is over. #Destiel is kinda sorta canon. Stacey Abrams is a fan. It’s been a big month for one of the internet’s largest fandoms. After the extremely disappointing finale, which saw major characters die for no reason and refused to wrap up any meaningful loose ends for fans (and also depicted a car going to heaven), fans have flooded Tumblr with angry memes and also started reviewbombing the episode’s IMDB page. Tumblr user glittercas has been collecting some of the best comments. Here are some of my favorite one-star reviews:

  • “I expected literally nothing and somehow I got less”

  • “Only death can cure me from this”

  • “A fanfic writer on AO3 could have wrote a much better ending to the show.”

  • “My depression is back: This is the worst television finale ever and it literally brought back mental health issues I haven't had in YEARS, so... thanks for that cw”

  • “Car🏁rights🚩2020”

All Hail The #Wakkopocalypse

Hulu rebooted The Animaniacs recently and the reactions seem to be largely mixed. I haven’t see any full episodes yet, but I like a lot of the clips that are trending on Tumblr right now. A lot of queer accounts I follow seem pretty excited about the show. Meanwhile, a lot of 30-year-old men on YouTube don’t seem to like the new episodes. This makes me think the reboot is good, though this Collider review makes me think the show may be a little rougher than I think it is?

The character of Wakko has been a favorite among trans and non-binary fans for a while now after a panel from the official Animaniacs comic book went viral that seemed to depict Wakko as not identifying as male or female.

The reboot premiering combined with Wakko’s possible canonical non-binary identity has inspired a bunch of Wakko stans to start the #Wakkopocalypse. Twitter users are all changing their avatars to the same picture of of Wakko. It’s making things very confusing on Twitter!

The Tumblr account incorrectanimaniacsquotes has documented some of the Wakko madness. It all seems very funny and, honestly, exactly what I’d expect from a 2020 Animaniacs reboot. In fact, I’m surprised the reboot doesn’t have a meta episode where the show’s own reboot inspires an online fan army dedicated to Wakko. Here’s a good tweet.

There’s A Redditor Who Hates The Letter F

God, I love this. Links about this have been bouncing around in the group chat I’m in for my Twitch show, Hoobstank2 (we stream every Wednesday at 8pm EST, come hang out).

There is a Reddit user named u/IHateTheLetterF. They’ve been on the site since 2014 and, as you can see in the graph above, they do not use the letter F in their comments. Their recent popularity on Reddit seems to be connected to this screenshot in r/MadLads. But they’ve been noticed by the wider Reddit community before! I found this very interesting now-deleted comments left by u/IHateTheLetterF in an anti-F subreddit called r/NoFsGiven:

I started avoiding it 3 years ago, in some other communities. The reactions i get are always interesting. The messages i receive are mostly just people spamming that one letter, but it doesn't bother me. Other than that, it's divided between people being impressed, people asking me to name things that contain the letter, and people being really upset by the whole thing. It's not just irrational hatred though. I've hated it since i was a child. I was never able to properly write it in school, when writing essays by hand, because its so clunky, and mismatched. When people ask, i always say that i consider it a disabled E, that someone didn't bother to complete. Other than that, phonetics also bother me. Try pronouncing it out loud. You look, and sound, retarded. But that is a smaller part, and i wont avoid words that contain the phonetic sound, like the word 'phonetic'. I do however avoid all words containing the letter, and i intend to continue doing this. Also, i know it's in my name. I tried other variations, but it just looked stupid, and nobody would ever pick up on it. I consider it my own personal crusade, so having to look at it every time i post, is something i will endure to get my message across. Stay chill Reddit!

Not an F in the comment. Truly impressive!

And Finally, Here’s A Good Tweet

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***

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