Will the gross food video women join us in the metaverse?
Read to the end for a really good TikTok about 100 Gecs
Garbage Day’s growth over the last year has been overwhelming and I’ve reached a point with it where, to quote a popular TikTok meme, “I am drowning, there is no sign of land.” Earlier this year, I suspected (hoped) things might get to this point and started doing something I’ve been told is called “budgeting” and engaging in an elaborate get-rich-quick scheme called “business development”. And I am excited to say that through a combination of subscriptions, ads, and merch sales, I now feel comfortable bringing someone on to help me!
Meet Allegra Rosenberg, the first-ever “Garbage Resident”. Allegra is an amazing fandom reporter, digital media strategist, and currently works with Tumblr’s editorial team. I’ve been a huge fan of her stuff for a while. She’ll be helping me out over the next few months and will be writing a mini-column in side of the Friday Garbage Day emails. I asked her what her most niche internet obsessions are and she said include British panel shows, downloading academic PDFs, and internet archaeology on the wayback machine.
In honor of Allegra’s first day, I’m running a sale on subscriptions this week. You’ll get Discord access and a front row seat to some of the fun ideas that Allegra and I will be throwing behind the paywall. Hit that mf button if you’re interested!
Facebook Can’t Even Get Their Own Influencers
I have been wildly dismissive of Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse project since he first teased it in July. I think the metaverse will happen — in fits and starts at first and then, as always, all at once — and I also think there will be “metaverse companies”. But, like Facebook or Twitter 15 years ago, I think these forthcoming metaverse companies will look and feel extremely weird when they first appear. I simply don’t think Facebook has the kind of culture needed to build an immersive VR or AR product that really catches on. Here’s a terrific example of what I’m talking about.
Meta recently released an Instagram collaboration with Khaby Lame. If you’ve never heard of Lame, he’s a Senegalese internet creator who is currently based in Italy. He blew up earlier this year, but he didn’t blow up on Facebook or Instagram.
Lame went viral on TikTok first, instead. Last June, he became the fastest growing account on TikTok and is currently the second-most-popular user on the app. If you’ve never seen Lame’s videos, in the beginning, they typically followed a very specific format. He would use TikTok’s duet feature to comment on or parody those bizarre viral top-down DIY videos that don’t make any sense. TikTok is awash in content farms that take their watchbait recipe videos from Facebook and repost them on the platform for extra views.
I assume Lame made a lot of money partnering with Meta for an ad, which rules. But I just want to be extremely clear how desperate and weird this all looks for Meta. They didn’t team up with Nas Daily or the gross food magicians, they teamed up with Lame, an influencer who became famous thanks to a functionality their apps didn’t innovate, whose videos were directly making fun of the content made famous by their platform’s algorithm. Lame is a creator that exists absolutely completely in spite of Facebook. To advertise with him to show off their new era as Meta is an incredible self-own.
The metaverse, at its most utopian, is a semi-tangible version of the internet that pulls the unlimited creativity and imagination of the digital world into the physical. To build it, we will need a culture of internet creators beyond anything we have now. I assume the generation of users that will build the metaverse are running Roblox scams on Discord right now.
As wearable technology gets better, even if Meta can build products that work and people buy it, they will need to attract creators to make their metaverse’s content. (Unless Facebook is going to make their own lol.) But Facebook eventually betrays any creator that works for them. There’s a reason the only accounts making serious money on the platform anymore are Ben Shapiro, antivax chiropractors, and the DIY recipe studios that Lame’s videos lampoon. Facebook screwed over bloggers, then major news publishers, and eventually their own homegrown influencers, forcing them to make stranger and less-impactful content to fit in their stricter and stricter algorithms. And the same thing right now is happening with Instagram. Have you fallen down an MLM Reels rabbit hole yet?
When we do get our first batch of metaverse creators and influencers, there’s a very good chance that they won’t be on Facebook. They’ll suddenly appear out of nowhere on a brand new app that no one really understand yet, except for young people, like Lame did. Now, Lame is on most major platforms now. Though, most of his content is still TikTok-native. But yeah, he’s on Instagram. He’s pretty popular there. He has 54 million followers on the platform. Though, hilariously, the first line of his Instagram bio reads, “📱TikTok:117 Mln+”.
Salt Bae Opened A Restaurant In London And It’s So Weird That I’m Having Trouble Processing It
This video bombards you with so much strangeness at once that it’s actually completely overwhelming. Not a single person in this one-minute video is behaving like a normal human person. Why is the man in the hat moving like that? Why is he dressed like that? The whole thing looks like a scene from There Will Be Blood. What is happening???
It’s NFT Week
NFT.NYC is back for its second year this week. It first popped up in 2019, but the last two years have been pretty big for the NFT world. This week’s NFT.NYC has over 500 speakers, including former Reddit CEO Alexis Ohanian. There’s also apparently some kind of AR-based NFT pop-up in Times Square right now and Gary Vaynerchuk has threatened to organize secret wine party flashmobs.
But it’s fitting that Ohanian is involved, seeing as how the NFT community is now going through its own “first photos of a Reddit meetup” moment. If you don’t remember this, in the very early days of Reddit, users would try and meet each other in various cities. And most of the photos from those events would then end up back on places like r/cringe as users were horrified by their community’s own irl awkwardness. My personal theory is that modern social networks pivoted to more visual content to invent glamorous looking influencers so they wouldn’t have to actually interface with their own extremely online power users anymore. If you want to see the absolute NSFW peak of this sort of thing, google “infamous 2012 Baltimore reddit meetup”.
And that 2012 Reddit quality is a really good way to describe the vibe of some of the photos and videos coming out of NFT.NYC. The top reply under this video right now is, “This video got rid of all my fomo”.
Although, big ups to the dude in line drinking a Bud Light at 8 A.M.
But I will say, internet event cringe is nothing specific to NFTs by the way. And there do seem to be some pretty neat NFT events in New York this week. But I do love the weirdness of early internet meetups. It turns out very weird people are early adopters for online subcultures! Though, that said, I got to meet a few Garbage Day readers last week and they’re all extremely cool and normal.
Meanwhile, in the NFT world, actor Elijah Wood bought and also commissioned some NFTs from an artist who has made A LOT of racist cartoons. Wood later posted on Twitter last night that after he learned about the artist’s previous work, he sold all the NFTs and donated the money to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Black Lives Matter. Also, a Bored Ape Yacht Club collector was hacked, possibly losing over a million dollars with of digital assets. Twitter users are not being very nice to him about it. And, finally, as I routinely have to tell the crypto-beleaguered users in the Garbage Day Discord, we are so so so early in this whole NFT thing. For instance, UbiSoft just announced they’re developing ways to integrate blockchain-based technology into their games. Also, there a McRib NFT now.
Wolf Blitzer Learns About Scottish Geography
COP26 is this week! It’s the United Nations’ annual climate change conference. This year should be an important one because of, you know, the whole impending climate apocalypse thing. COP26 is in Glasgow. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, for some reason, however, is 50 miles away in Edinburgh.
The Brits Are At It Again, Internet Law Edition
The UK really hasn’t ever met an internet problem they haven’t immediately tried to fix by further curtailing free speech and giving more protections to the already-powerful.
Per a report in the (London) Times this morning, the UK government is currently in the midst of drafting the Online Safety Bill, which has already had a lot of criticism. But new details are out about a possible provision in it that could try and criminalize sending messages or posts that cause “psychological harm”. There are also discussions reportedly about how that could be extended to include Twitter pile-ons.
The scrutiny around Twitter harassment in the UK is largely coming off the back of the torrent of abuse that black football players are getting online. There are similar laws being drafted in the UK calling for the end to online anonymity. And while I am someone who routinely calls for online moderation, myself, I can’t help but think that any kind of British law against “trolling” will really only protect one kind of person: right-wing and anti-trans columnists who get pushback for whatever dumb thing they’ve published online. Speaking of which, imagine if it was illegal to roast this dude on Twitter about his weird sex writing.
The Power Of TikTok
British-Somali singer Nimco Happy recently had her song “Isii Nafta,” or “Love You More Than My Life,” go viral on TikTok. Like really really viral on TikTok. It’s so popular that unofficial versions of it were uploaded to various streaming sites. It’s typically played at weddings. Reporter Ikran Dahir has a great thread about the singer reacting her new-found fame.
I think it can be hard to conceptualize the speed, intensity, and scope of TikTok virality. Well, here’s a recent video that might help you envision what’s going on here:
Mundane Halloween Is Back
It’s that time again! Mundane Halloween costumes! The annual “Jimi Halloween,” or “Plain Halloween” contest has been a fixture on the internet since it started in 2014. This year’s were extremely good. Sora News 24 has a good rundown of some of the best, but here’s my favorite one: “A person trying to remove their mask, but pulls off their glasses too.”
Oh, and if you want even more boring Halloween, you should head over to my friend Kassy Cho’s Instagram. She’s a Taiwan-based reporter and she just posted a great roundup of photos from a “down-to-earth” Halloween party held last year in Taipei.
“Oh, I’ve Seen That On Pinterest”
Incredibly powerful advice in this video. This is true galaxy brain thinking.
Garbage Day Is At The Web Summit This Week
I’m writing this newsletter from an auditorium in Lisbon, Portugal, as I wait for Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to take the stage. I’ll be here at the Web Summit all week. Let me know if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in! There’s crypto stuff, AI, online governance, all kinds. I’ve been a big fan of this conference for many years because it’s a tech conference that really emphasizes that the internet is not just a thing that happens in America, but, you know, everywhere. Also, if any Garbage Day readers happen to be here, shoot me a message! Let’s get a Super Bock or something.
Also, if you’re in the Sidechannel Discord — which you’ll get an invite to if you subscribe to Garbage Day — in just a little bit, I’ll be experimenting with a little interactive liveblog as Haugen speaks live tonight.
Some Stray Halloween Links
Four Seasons Total Landscaping (this is shopped, but still good)
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***