Twitter is just one giant ARG now
Read to the end for a capybara fancam
I have a Sidechannel event coming up next week! It’s on Monday night with the Data Society’s Cristina López G. We’re going to be talking about countries passing laws for hashtag clout and how that led to El Salvador making Bitcoin legal tender. Hit the button below to get access to the Discord!
Let’s Talk About The Fake Twitter Truck Stop
On Thursday, Twitter-at-large discovered the Celina 52 Truck Stop account. The above tweet and screenshots of a similar post on Facebook went viral and became a trending topic on the site. As one of Twitter’s trending editors wrote, “Many say a big rig truck driver named Amelia looks like comedian and actor Amy Schumer after Celina 52 Truck Stop shared a photo of the driver turning in reward points at their stop for a prize.” Thank you, very helpful. Amy Schumer tweeted about the post, as well.
Let’s be clear. This is NOT a real person. “Amelia” is a photoshop of Amy Schumer and the image is full of gags, from the Monster Energy Drink fridge, to the “TRUCKIN-N-FUCKIN” shirt, to the “STOP pooping in our parking lot” sign, to the teardrop face tattoo. On the Celina 52 Truck Stop Facebook page, they explain that “Amelia” got her teardrop tattoo because she “accidentally killed a pedestrian once after falling asleep at the wheel and got the tattoo to honor their memory.”
Celina 52’s commitment to the bit went so far as to give an in-character interview to the New York Post:
In an interview with The Post, Danny Brine — who claimed to be a truck stop shift manager — said that Amelia’s “teardrop tattoo story is real” and claimed that the rest area is indeed a real place.
However, The Post was unable to verify claims by Brine, who said he doubles as a social media assistant there.
Celina 52 then shared the New York Post story on their Facebook page, writing, “HIT PIECE BY THE FAILING NEW YORK TIMES I NEVER SAID ANY OF THE STUFF QUOTED. DO NOT READ FAKE NEWS” lol.
If you go through the other posts from Celina 52, they all feature similar content — people photoshopped into white trash truck stop patrons. I’m going to go ahead and say that Celina 52 is an ARG, or alternate reality game. They’ve become increasingly popular online over the last year and they can come in several different forms.
In February, I came across an account called That Wine Guy. The account is still running. The central conceit is that it’s the account of a weird, emotionally disturbed man who loves wine. It’s similar to Celina 52, where it feels like a bizarre in-joke run by a small group of people.
The picture used in the account actually belongs to Jason Harris, a history teacher who lives in Japan. Harris tweeted that he contacted the person running the page and I guess it went well? The account is still using his face.
Another ARG that popped up recently was the Guy Fieri Tumblr ARG, The Flavortown Saga. You can watch a good YouTube recap of it here. Basically, a bunch of Tumblr users started creating lore around Guy Fieri dating the Dr. Phil-version of the Green M&M. Sorry, there really isn’t a simpler way to describe it. I lurk in their Discord, it’s pretty funny.
What’s weird about the Celina 52 ARG though is that it broke through into the mainstream in a huge way and it really shows how unprepared folks are to deal with this stuff. I mean, Snopes covered it.
Ten years ago, there were plenty of weird one-off parody accounts and the consensus has been that they died off. But they didn’t! They’ve evolved into weird little niche universes that are seconds away from colliding with the real world at any given moment. It’s all very weird and it’s only going to get weirder. Honestly, “it’s all very weird and it’s only going to get weirder” should just become the new tagline for this newsletter.
An Incredible Cereal Journey
Watch Jamelle Bouie try what sounds like a truly disgusting Korean cereal. It’s spring onion flavored and I don’t want to spoil things, but it seems like Bouie did not like it very much!
The Minecraft YouTuber Dream Got Doxxed
Dream is a Minecraft YouTuber who has quietly become one of the biggest names in gaming YouTube. This year it seems like his massive audience has reached a tipping point where it’s virtually impossible for him to go more than a few days without falling into some kind of weird scandal — which makes sense he’s a 21 year old with an audience the size of California.
This newest controversy started earlier this week when “#DREAM_OUT” started trending on Twitter as screenshots of DMs circulated that alleged that Dream had made anti-black comments about his fans. The #DREAM_OUT backlash got big enough that users started posting pictures of what they claimed was Dream’s face.
If you didn’t know, Dream is part of a new crop of influencers who don’t post their face online, the biggest of which being Corpse. The photo being shared right now of Dream doesn’t look much like what his fans have assumed he looks like — a thin handsome model — and now many are accusing him of catfishing them. It also seems like some users found Dream’s house on Zillow.
There are two interesting things here. First, it’s genuinely confounding how high-stakes this all is getting for a creator who, I’d guess, most people have never heard of. I mean, we’re just talking about Minecraft here, right? And second, I’ve seen similar accusations of influencers who only use an avatar online of “catfishing” their followers. It’s a funny bit of a projecting on the part of a fanbase. A person starts to amass a following, they don’t show their face, but that doesn’t stop their typically young audience starts drawing fan art of the influencer. The internet tends to reinvent Jack Skellington over and over again whenever online communities make fan art, so obviously a YouTuber like Dream is drawn thin and handsome. And what started as a way to protect their privacy and mental health backfires. You’re really damned if you do or damned if you don’t, I guess.
Some More Brazilian TikTok Shenanigans
On Wednesday, I wrote about how a weird anime foot fetish meme had become a TikTok challenge in Brazil. It’s great and hilarious example of how strange and decentralized international meme evolution can get. Well, I was sent a great example of a Brazilian song going semi-viral in the US out of context and, guys, it’s WAY worse than lip-syncing to a foot fetish audio.
My friend Gui sent me a bunch of TikToks from gringos that use this song. I guess it’s common enough that it’s become a bit of a joke in Brazil. The song is from a Brazilian music artist named MC Nick and it’s called “Mete Com Força E Com Talento” or “Fuck With Force And Talent” and the lyrics are DISGUSTING.
Like, honestly, the lyrics are so explicit that I don’t even feel comfortable writing them in the newsletter. You can click over here to read the words that this person is cooking a cake to. If you see this song as an audio on TikTok please don’t use it!
Let’s Check In On The Jerma Subreddit
Jeremy “Jerma985” Harrington is a popular streamer who has a very unhinged fanbase. He’s a popular fixture on my Tumblr dashboard. Last year, Jerma was streaming with the Chuck E Cheese mascot when he accidentally posted a picture of him kissing the pizza rat. It was a whole ting. Anyways, recently, one of the members of his subreddit poised a very interesting question:
Obviously, a lot of people were really taken aback by this. Probably because it’s legitimately nuts. Here are some of the best comments:
“This has the possibility to be ‘one guy moment of 2021’ if you play this right”
“Yup. I'm pretty sure 60-70% of chat has the stream muted and is just waiting for the VOD so they can replace Jerma's voice with their own in post.”
“Can't say I've ever heard of this but my interest is piqued, do you post these to youtube? I'd love to check it out”
This TikTok Is As Good As You’ve Heard
Came across this bad boy thanks to Trusty Froster’s Today In Tubs. It’s truly incredible.
ByteDance For Hire
Here’s a short and scary thing. ByteDance, the company behind TikTok, has created a brand called Volcano Engine which will, according to Reuters, “offer its personalised recommendation algorithm to more corporate clients.”
I find this to be an objectively terrifying idea. Even crazier, apparently Volcano Engine has already been operational for a year now, being used by companies like JD.com.
TikTok has one of the most aggressive powerful algorithms of any social platform right now and the idea that companies can hire it out, without us ever knowing, is, frankly, a chilling thought.
Doge Just Became The Highest Selling Meme NFT
It seems inevitable that the doge meme would finally become an NFT. The picture of doge, whose real name is Kabosu, sold for $4 million on Friday, quadrupling the previous meme NFT record, which was held by Pepe the Frog, which sold for $1 million.
A huge portion of the money from the sale will go to charity. "Through the launch of these NFTs, I'd like to help children in need all over the world. Kabosu and I would be very happy if we could help bring a smile to their face,” Doge’s owner Atsuko Sato told Know Your Meme.
If you’re looking for MORE crypto content, head over to The Verge, where I have a new piece out. I actually got a chance to talk to a crypto creator Garbage Day readers will know I’ve been following for a while, Maren Altman, the crypto witch of TikTok.
Another Good Tweet
(Not sure if I need to explain this, but Edgar Wright directed Shaun Of The Dead.)
Garbage Day Is On YouTube
I turned my recent essay about Erika Thompson, who posts on TikTok as Texas Bee Works, into a YouTube video! Which means Garbage Day is officially on YouTube. I’m excited to get in the boxing ring with Jake Paul soon.
Honestly, I've been getting requests to take Garbage Day content over to YouTube and I’m excited to experiment. *clears throat* please like and subscribe.
Some Stray Links
“TikTokers Are Embracing The “Coconut Girl” Aesthetic As Summer 2021’s Defining Style”
“Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats”
P.S. here’s a capybara fancam.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***