TikTok world vs the real world
Read to the end for a truly unreal Twitter interaction
Tomorrow’s Extra Garbage Day is with Mike Benner, who is currently running the Worst Tweet Ever Championship Tournament. We had a great conversation about the evolution of Twitter cringe. If you want to check it out, subscribe to Garbage Day! It’s $5 a month or $45 a year, and you’ll get lots of fun extra stuff. Hit the green button if you’re interested.
A TikToker Was Making Violent Anime Cosplay Videos While Awaiting Trial For Manslaughter
A TikTok cosplay account went private this week amid backlash over the fact that she was publishing violent videos — or just any videos at all, really — while being allegedly embroiled in a manslaughter case. The TikToker, who goes by @yandere.freak, real name Mary Anne Oliver-Snow, wasn’t just a random user either. Oliver-Snow currently has 1.6 million followers on the platform.
“Yandere” is a trope from anime and manga. It’s the combination of two Japanese words, “yanderu,” which means to be sick, and “deredere,” or lovestruck. Yandere characters are typically depicted in Japanese media as female characters that are so romantically obsessed with a male character that they become homicidal. Oliver-Snow’s TikTok account featured her dressed up as a variety of anime characters, but most commonly a character named Yuno from the anime Future Diary (pictured above). Yuno is kind of like the archetypical yandere character.
Streaming media news outlet Dexerto reported that Oliver-Snow was arrested last January after allegedly shooting and killing a friend by accident. Also, a redacted (and unverified) copy of her police report has is circulating on social media via a Google Drive upload and it lines up with what Dexerto has reported. Oliver-Snow reportedly told police that she was drunk and pretending to be the character The Penguin from the show Gotham and thought the gun wasn’t loaded.
Tributes to Helen Rose Hastings, the woman allegedly shot by Oliver-Snow, were published by Oberlin College’s student-run newspaper last February. Oliver-Snow’s manslaughter case reportedly has an evidence exchange set for next month.
Oliver-Snow used to go by the user name @snowthesaltqueen and a few years ago caused a huge controversy on Reddit cosplaying communities after she did a photoshoot in a graveyard, posing on different tombstones. I can’t believe I can say this, but if you’re looking for more on the history of grave-defiling for internet clout, I recently published a video essay about it.
Users began to attack Oliver-Snow’s TikTok channel earlier this month as word spread about her manslaughter case. Because Oliver-Snow has made her account private, you can’t see the comments on her posts anymore, but a common refrain from them was how insensitive it was for Oliver-Snow to be posting violent cosplay videos (complete with fake blood splatter). The Daily Dot has a good round up of duet videos commenting on Oliver-Snow’s posts, which you can check out here.
Beyond just an extremely dark and upsetting story, it’s also an interesting example of the increasingly strange, awkward, and downright upsetting ways the veneer of TikTok fame collides — and is burst — by real life. Influencers, or before that, just well-known users, on social networks have committed crimes before and it has always been jarring to see that interact with their online notoriety. But in the case of TikTok, because the app is so visual and iterative, the influencers and content on it feel even more removed from real life than on Facebook or YouTube. TikTok paints a family-friendly, algorithmically-optimized picture of the world, complete with filters and a soundtrack. But as the app becomes more widespread, dark stories like this will surface — it’s inevitable. And that disconnect between the real world and TikTok world will only feel stranger
Oliver-Snow’s account is now a major trending topic on the app. And, so, of course, other users are making all kinds of videos about it. Remember, everything on TikTok is an opportunity for more content, even allegations of manslaughter. But if you go to the #yanderefreak tag you might notice a really weird thing where users aren’t using the word of “kill” or “murder” in their videos. Why are they doing that? Well, TikTok has incredibly aggressive violent content filters. So, instead, in the cutesy world of TikTok trending topics, Oliver-Snow allegedly made someone “unalive”.
A Good Tweet About Twitter
More Unhinged Facebook Stuff
The Wall Street Journal reported this on several internal documents from the very good and normal company, Facebook. These documents focused on products aimed at young users. They are wildly distressing. A presentation about Messenger Kids includes the sentence, “is there a way to leverage playdates to drive word of hand/growth among kids?” Basically, is there a way to make sure kids are staring at their phones and using Facebook products instead of socializing irl.
People have been obviously upset about the WSJ report. New York Times reporter Cecilia Kang tweeted, “‘Leveraging’ playdates is just...speechless.” To which Facebook’s Policy Communications Director Andy Stone tweeted back this very good and normal response:
Kang replied to Stone’s absolutely justified and sensible tweet which he seems to be aware he posted in public, asking if Stone thought Facebook was a newspaper. To which Stone had another well-thought out reply, tweeting, “Nope, but we do both [work] for publicly traded companies.” Whatever that means. Anyways, some very good policy communications being directed here.
What’s Going On With Christy Carlson Romano’s YouTube Channel?
Former Even Stevens actress Christy Carlson Romano has been getting A LOT of attention for her YouTube channel lately. It seems many people, myself included, saw her video “Why I Don't Talk To Shia LaBeouf” pop up in their recommendations last month.
If you’ve never watched a Romano vlog before, the recent ones all feature the former Disney Channel actress basically walking around Austin, Texas, and oversharing to an almost pathological degree. The videos are filmed by her husband Brendan Rooney, who specializes in content marketing.
Here’s what’s super interesting about all of this. For the last two years, Romano’s YouTube channel has been kind of standard viral stuff. She did cooking videos with other former child actors from the 90s, shared aesthetic mommy vlogs, posted react videos, and even recently started experimenting with MrBeast-style videos where she just gave people a bunch of money. The views on these videos were extremely middling, with one clocking out at just over 100,000 videos every few months.
Then, a month ago, she posted a video titled, “The Truth About The Disney Channel,” which has been watched half a million times. Since that video, her entire channel has pivoted to similar videos: Romano walking around town, telling wildly bizarre and slightly grim stories about being a Disney Channel actress. She’s also now posting 10-minute videos almost every other day. I really can’t overstate how surreal these videos are. Her video, “How I Lost Princess Diaries To Anne Hathaway” opens with her saying, “here’s why I don’t have Anne Hathaway’s career.”
But it is working! Her channel is totally blowing up and, honestly, it makes a lot sense. In fact, in the course of trying to write this I put one of her videos on and I literally couldn’t turn it off. They are really compelling and I think the fact they’re doing so well compared to her more “YouTube-y” videos really says something about the direction of the platform as a whole.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Talks About The Metaverse
Extremely excellent Washington Post games reporter Gene Park has a cracking piece out on the metaverse this week. It’s a big interview with Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and other studio employees. Epic is behind Fortnite, which is one of the closest approximations of what a metaversal internet could look like: A gamified digital space you interact with physically via avatars.
Though, troubling, Sweeney defines the metaverse as “an expansive, digitized communal space where users can mingle freely with brands and one another in ways that permit self-expression and spark joy.” Which sounds pretty boring! I’ve brought this up across different Garbage Day issues, but it feels depressingly limiting to define the metaverse as a way to MINGLE WITH BRANDS. What else could the metaverse be? Click over here to read more.
Another interesting thing here is that, at least in the piece, Sweeney doesn’t mention Web3, blockchain, or crypto, which I think crucially speaks to the different ways people view a possible metaverse and I think a lot of this will start to boil down to who wants to be in control of it all. While we’re talking about Web3, here’s an interesting and also troubling piece from Tech Dirt titled, “Bankers As Content Moderators” which I think is worth reading if you’re looking for more about the whole battle right now about who gets to decide who makes money online and how.
A Good Tweet About Mario
A Redditor Has A Very Gen Z Problem
Back in July, I wrote about the “post-otherkin identity play of TikTok,” focusing on a new group of users who identified as “systems” of multiple personalities and claimed to have dissociative identity disorder.
Well, a redditor posted in the Am I The Asshole subreddit this week, asking if they were the asshole for telling their friend’s mom that their friend was faking dissociative identity disorder on TikTok:
Yesterday her mom came to talk to me and ask what was going on since she's acting so weird and we weren't hanging out anymore. We've been friends since we were kids. So I told her that I didn't like hanging out with her anymore because of the fake DID and showed her the tiktok, including the videos where she was talking about me. Her mom thanked me and told me she'd talk to her.
A couple hours later she messaged me saying that I was an asshole and that her mom banned her from tiktok and I was ruining her life.
According to the commenters, in case you were curious, most of the other users believe the OP wasn’t the asshole in this situation, but one comment mentioned a really troubling development within the dissociative identity disorder trend. Apparently, users who are faking it for clout are lashing out at genuinely traumatized users, accusing them of being privileged enough to be actually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Seems like a mess!
The Biggest Country Song In America Right Now Is An Applebee’s Ad
I am OBSESSED with how much everything about this sucks. Walker Hayes’s song, “Fancy Like” is currently climbing up the Billboard Hot 100. It’s also become a massively viral TikTok audio. On its face, it’s one of those late-stage pop country songs where a guy who looks like he renovates houses on HGTV and sounds like an auto-tuned youth pastor version of Macklemore lists relatable activities like drinking beer and having sex in the back of a pickup truck over washed out trap beats and algorithmically-generated Lynyrd Skynyrd riffs. BUT this is even worse because this is now also an Applebee’s ad.
According to a fantastic breakdown of this whole thing by Stereogum’s Chris DeVille, there’s no indication this song started as an Applebee’s ad, but the chorus features the lyrics: “Yeah, we fancy like Applebee's on a date night / Got that Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shake.” *Voice from one that one Vine* Haha I do that.
The song went viral in August via a TikTok dance (as all music in America does now). And now the viral dance and the Applebee’s part of the chorus has been turned into an official ad spot for the fast casual restaurant chain. Based on the success of this abomination I assume this is basically how all music (and eventually culture) will function soon. Thinking about making a hyperpop song about the CVS video directly below this…
A Tweet About Going To CVS
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a truly unreal Twitter interaction. This was sent to me by a reader named Paul and I am losing my mind.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***