Twitter executives finally met the average user
Read to the end for the final crypto update from my dad in Miami
My last Miami dad-dispatch is at the bottom of today’s issue! It’s for paying subscribers only and I want to thank everyone who has been following our father-son journey into the dark heart of crypto. (You can find part one and part two here.) All weekend my dad kept asking me to refresh the page and tell him the traffic numbers his posts were getting.
Two other bits of housekeeping: Garbage Day is nominated for two Webby Awards ahhhhh!!!! If you feel like voting for me for those, you can do that here and here. And, finally, there’s a Garbage Day meetup — incidentally the night of the final day for Webbys voting 👀 — and there’s an Eventbrite for that here.
Elon Musk’s Short LARP As A Twitter Employee
Following his purchase of 9.2% of Twitter’s stock and the announcement that he’d be joining the company’s board, Elon Musk spent the weekend tweeting a bunch of nonsense about how he’d run the company, including musings about turning its office into a homeless shelter, removing the “w” from the name so it would be called Titter, complaining about how all the top-followed accounts were irl celebrities, and giving Twitter Blue users an authentication checkmark. As of this morning, all of his tweets have been deleted and Parag Agrawal, the current CEO of Twitter, announced that Musk will, in fact, not be joining the board. But for one brief weekend, we did finally get to see an age-old internet culture hypothetical: What if a community’s biggest shitposter just took it over?
Now, Musk, who is currently the richest man alive, is not your average user. But I do think his use of Twitter — to share awful memes, rant and rave about whatever he’s currently fixated on, and drive abuse and harassment against random people — is much closer to that of a typical user’s than probably most executives at the company. As I wrote last week, most social media platforms shifted to a more stately, clinical, and cynical community strategy over the last five years, but Twitter really seems stuck in a very 2011 fantasy land where they think their product makes people’s lives better. I’ve met Twitter employees who are tapped into the overwhelmingly antagonistic realities of the platform they work for, but I’ve never gotten the sense that the people at Twitter making decisions really seem to understand that their website is the third rail of culture and a perpetual arena for various global culture wars. So in a weird way, it was kind of exhilarating to have Musk to go Joker mode on the company’s executive wing all weekend. Unlike when Trump did this exact same thing to all of American society between 2015-2021, I wouldn’t have really minded if Musk had turned Twitter into his personal plaything, running into the ground and making it unusable for serious people. I’m a Twitter accelerationist. Let the house burn down.
Though perhaps the funniest incident during the last few crazy days over at Twitter was when a product lead for the company, Michael Sayman, responded to a Musk tweet complaining about how largely-inactive pop stars were still listed as platform’s top users, writing, “I’m looking forward to turning this ship around with you now that I’ve joined to help lead product at Twitter, down to chat whenever. Let’s fix this for Justin Bieber, but also for the average user.”
Yikes! Before Sayman went inactive for the weekend — amid lots of pretty angry tweets directed at him — he tweeted an animated GIF of Michael Scott from The Office cringing, so I’d say it’s safe to assume he has since realized that he may have overextended a bit there. But it’s also funny that not even Twitter employees are immune to desperately simping for Musk, regardless of the personal cost. Sayman’s tweet was basically the burning Tesla in your driveway equivalent Silicon Valley hustle posting. Which makes me believe that it really does seem like there’s just a type of guy who just cannot help but get rugpulled by Musk’s cult of personality. Excited to see what part of our lives gets completely disrupted for no discernible reason next by an out of control billionaire!
An Incredible Look At Shanghai’s COVID Lockdown
This video is age-restricted, so you have to click in on the embed to watch it over on YouTube, but it’s a really incredible feat of open source intelligence. It collects over 100 videos from Shanghai amid the brutal COVID lockdown the Chinese government is imposing on the city. It’s over an hour of footage, surfaced from Chinese social platforms. It was published by a group called China Change and its founder Yaxue Cao wrote about the footage in a Twitter thread over the weekend.
“It’s like having 100 cameramen on 100 scenes,” Cao wrote. “China Change subtitled or annotated almost each item, trimmed the longer ones for brevity, but added neither music nor comment.” A bit of warning: the video is hard to watch. Shanghai’s lockdown has been incredibly intense, which has set off food shortages that are particularly affecting the city’s elderly who can’t navigate food delivery apps.
Feels Like A.I. Art Suddenly Got Real Good Real Fast
DALL-E, which gets its name from a combination of Salvador Dali and Pixar’s WALL-E, is a GPT-3 A.I. that takes descriptive sentences and tries to render an illustration out of it. And the results are shockingly good. It figured out how to make a pretty incredible realistic Pikachu. Unfortunately, you can’t play around with DALL-E yet without an invite, but it does feel like we’re getting closer and closer to a moment when these kinds of tools are both very good and ubiquitous.
I’ve mused in previous Garbage Day issues about where this is going. I sort of tend to subscribe to the theory Yuval Noah Harari outlines in his book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, where A.I.s will function like personal assistants and everyone will get one, similar to how there are now people on Earth who will essentially go from birth to death with some form of a smart device in their pocket and a few algorithms following them online. A Siri for everyone!
But I also think that this current era of A.I.s being used to generate existing forms of art will quickly be up-ended by an A.I. generating some form of content that has never really existed before that human beings will go nuts over. In the same way that YouTube’s algorithm invented brand new forms of video content that had never really existed before. And like all burgeoning fringe cultural movements on the internet, I assume it will somehow involve anime fans and/or furries.
A Redditor Got Way Too High
Man, I love this post. A redditor named u/Gain-Horror took a 500 mg edible and then basically spent two days incredibly high freaking out that they’d have to attend a party, which it turned out, wasn’t until next week anyways. The post, written a day after u/Gain-Horror had eaten the edible, but who was clearly still very very stoned, has some incredible lines in it, such as:
“This happened yesterday when I ate the edible that is today is the day of the party”
“I was walking around the room with my movement being very snappy snapping into place”
“I was defiantly going to be high I’m the morning and I was right”
Excellent stuff. The top comment was from a user who wrote, “go back to bed man” lol.
Supa Hot Fire Has Finally Returned
I missed this, but on April Fools Day, the formidable YouTube rapper Supa Hot Fire, responsible for the rap battle meme, returned to the internet to remind the world of his lyrical prowess. In this new video, he expertly destroys the rapper Blueface. My favorite line from this new video is, “I take the ball, I bounce it. I shoot and miss it…Sike! I swished it!” Great to have him back.
The Nicolas Cage AMA Was A Real Treat
Over the weekend, actor Nicolas Cage did a Reddit AMA to promote his new film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which he plays an amped up version of himself. The Reddit AMA is one of those classic internet things that don’t really happen so much anymore. A wonderful, chaotic, and insightful reflection on the incredibly bizarre art that’s possible in the modern age. I’m not overselling this lol. Even if you’re not a massive Cage fan, I recommend giving it a spin.
Kingdom Hearts Shows Feet
I’m not sure why certain video game fandoms are weirder than others, but the fandom around Kingdom Hearts has to be one of the stranger ones. It’s probably related to the weirdness of the game, itself, which features Disney and Final Fantasy characters fighting demons. Also, the franchise’s plot takes hours to properly summarize and is spread across thirteen different games.
Either way, over the weekend it was announced that there would be a fourth mainline Kingdom Hearts game and a small snippet of footage was shown. In that footage, the game’s main character Sora is shown not wearing his trademark massive Mickey Mouse shoes, or as Kotaku put it, his “Big-Ass Clown Shoes”. If you know nothing about this series, this all must sound insane to you.
Well, Twitter went crazy now that Sora has finally shown feet.
It’s not surprising that people are whipped up into a frenzy about a popular video game character’s feet — that’s just the world we live in — but I was surprised by the amount of people who seemed to think that Sora’s big-ass clown shoes were big-ass clown shoes because his feet were shaped that way. Which is honestly an incredibly distressing idea and I can’t people just thought that was the case for the last 20 years!
A Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
BONUS: Bitcoiners Should Probably Care About People More
It’s been a pretty exhausting week here in Miami. I spent four days at the Bitcoin 2022 conference trying desperately to understand what kinds of people come to this sort of thing and how they see the world of cryptocurrency. I don’t have a super clear picture still — that’s the problem with decentralized movements like Bitcoin — but I do feel like I understand some of the behavior within community better. Bitcoin maximalists want to essentially destroy the fabric of liberal society. They happily sat up on stage this week and sketched out a fantasy where they lived like kings by loaning out their digital money to the great unwashed masses. The fact that they would then, typically in the same breathe, start ranting about cancel culture is, I think, a good illustration of what they really want.
Beyond the maximalists, the convention had a lot of people there like my dad. Consumer investors who finally decided to buy some crypto during a moment of downtime during the pandemic. So the question is, using my dad as a sample size of one, did the investors walk away from Bitcoin 2022 feeling excited about the global financial movement they were inadvertently now a part of? Here’s what he had to say.