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Twitter Reaches Its Encyclopedia Dramatica Stage
One of my favorite internet truisms is “the nature of humanity is just that every so often someone accidentally invents Homestuck again.” (I think it was first coined by Twitter user @milkdrinker5000 in 2018, but I honestly feel like it’s been around forever?) There are a lot of variations of it. My personal favorite is, “the nature of humanity is just that every so often someone accidentally invents Hetalia again.”
I sort of think of it as the guiding principle behind the modern internet. It’s not so much that things are cyclical, it’s that old things will be proudly invented by new users as if they had never existed at all. Adding another ironic layer to all of this is that “the nature of humanity is just that every so often someone accidentally invents Homestuck again” is, itself, just an updated riff on the concept of Eternal September.
Anyways, the nature of humanity is just that every so often someone accidentally invents Encyclopedia Dramatica again, as well, apparently. I found this tweet in a thread about Elizabeth Bruenig defending her friend, controversial writer Freddie deBoer.
The theory I’ve been exploring for the last six months or so is that Twitter is a dying website. That doesn’t mean that it won’t exist for years to come or that it even will become less popular, but that, culturally, it is exhibiting all the signs that other online communities have gone through when they were no longer healthy. There’s also a chance that this could all turn around — Reddit and Tumblr have made great strides since 2016 to make their communities better.
If you aren’t familiar with Encyclopedia Dramatica, it finally went offline last year. There was, appropriately, a lot of drama surrounding the site in the end. “OddGuy,” the closest thing the site has to a public spokesperson, claims that there were no backups. It’s unclear if the site will ever come back. You can watch an interview with him about why exactly the site went down here.
The site was an interesting experiment. The idea was that you could document troll culture and message board drama in a wiki. The site, though, was notoriously hard to navigate because it was full-on parody of Wikipedia. The archiving system was nonsense. It was also full of racism, misogyny, pornography, and gore. But, long before the days of mainstream internet reportage, it was the only place where you could go to actually get a sense of what was happening on the social web.
Encyclopedia Dramatica-like projects tend to appear when a community has reached untenable levels of toxicity. The original first appeared when the LiveJournal, Something Awful, 4chan triad had devolved into endless harassment campaigns. Your Fave Is Problematic, appeared at the pre-Dashcon height of Tumblr mania. And drama channels on YouTube exploded in popularity around 2018 and ultimately peaked last year, as young users traded YouTuber gossip for Hype House palace intrigue.
So it’s fitting that users on Twitter are itching for a similar thing. The platform is meaner and nastier then it’s ever been. And people will probably try to do it! A Garbage Day reader recently sent me a Twitter user that is creating “Jokerfied” monthly summaries of internet drama.
(Their write-ups are legitimately great though.)
But for those who really wish there was an archive of Twitter drama, let me tell you how this usually ends. The drama you’re desperate to archive is probably a waste of time to document. The attempts at organizing all of it will result in vicious fights, libel lawsuits, and an even more hostile online environment. And, as you’re spending all your time making the thing, users will already be looking for somewhere else to go that isn’t completely dominated by internet-brained power users.
The White Lady Skinny Jeans TikTok Musical
There are two EXTREMELY cursed TikToks traveling around the web at the moment. I will include there here, but, honestly, I really don’t think you should play them. They contain radioactive amounts of millennial-ium. Here’s the first one:
Look, we always knew that millennials weren’t going to age gracefully. As a generation, we haven’t done anything gracefully. But I just didn’t think the middle age cringe would happen this fast or this violently. Here’s the second one:
Both of these videos are musical numbers responding to the extremely stupid Gen Z anti-skinny jeans thing. Now, before we dive into all of this, I am, unfortunately, a passionate skinny jeans defender. I worked very hard to wear skinny jeans, growing up in a small town without a readily-accessible Urban Outfitters. I’m also 6’2” and shaped like Dr. Robotnik, with long skinny legs and a short torso. Skinny-cut pants just look good on me!
My favorite tweet I’ve seen about these videos was from Twitter user @adnamode, who tweeted, “White Millennials are fighting themselves on tik tok whilst gen z is talking arguing communism.”
Which made me curious. Is this all just a weird fake thing that was totally fabricated by old millennials working in various digital content factories? The answer is no, it was a thing on TikTok back in July. From what I can tell, it continued to circulate on the app until last fall. Anti-skinny jean sentiment then started appearing in news stories around November 2020. It’s mentioned in this Refinery29 piece. Then Dazed wrote about it a month later. I’m actually quoted in that piece! And then, finally, it truly blew up in the second half of January 2021. Yahoo! Financewrote a piece on January 15 titled, “We Called This Non-Skinny Jeans Trend Ages Ago and, Well, We Were Right” which is hilarious aggressively. And now it’s reached the Hamilton fan network graph.
So I suppose the funniest thing about this entire thing is that millennials are singing on TikTok about how relevant they still are while they’re commenting on a meme about pants that was a thing like six months ago. Not sure you can really argue you have your fingers on the pulse of culture when you’re chasing months-old TikTok trends for outrage bait.
Tumblr Wants To Smoke Weed With Amelia Earhart
Smoking weed with Amelia Earheart is the hot new Tumblr meme. There’s now Amelia Earthart weed memes all over my dashboard. You can always tell when Tumblr is a little thirsty for a good new meme because when they find something they latch on to it FAST. The whole thing is based off this tweet from, like, literally two days ago:
Big Fanfic Causes Big Drama
There’s an absolutely massive fanfic that’s tearing Archive Of Our Own apart at the moment. It’s called Sexytimes with Wangxian. It’s based on a Chinese manga and anime series called Mo Dao Zu Shi. I noted how surprised I was at Mo Dao Zu Shi’s popularity in a Garbage Day item back in December about AO3 end-of-the-year leaderboards. The ship at the center of Sexytimes with Wangxian was the most popular fan pairing on the site last year.
So why is Sexytimes with Wangxian causing so many issues for AO3 users? The fanfic is incredibly massive. At the moment, it’s 1.1 million words long. In case you were wondering, there are longer fanfics. The fanfic that’s currently believed to be the longest work on AO3 — and possibly longest in the history of narrative fiction — is At the Edge of Lasg'len, a Lord Of The Rings fanfic, which is 5.3 million words long.
The issue is that Sexytimes with Wangxian‘s length has allowed it to span out into every possible tag that AO3 has. It currently has over 1700 tags. Here’s a screenshot of the tags I tried to take on the biggest monitor I have zoomed out as much as I could. I still couldn’t get it to fit.
This means that the fic appears basically under every tag. In a sense, Sexytimes with Wangxian has absorbed a huge chunk of the site. It also updates daily, sending it to the top of every tag its under. As of nine days ago, the fic was finally restricted. Though users that could be temporary.
The fact that Sexytimes with Wangxian was able to absorb so many tags is definitely an interesting stress test for AO3’s extremely intricate and sophisticated tagging system. It’s the defining feature of the site and, I’ve argued before, the key to the community’s unshakeable longevity. But this tag gluttony is a problem and it will be interesting to see how the site’s community team responds to copycats.
If you want to read more about this, there’s a big piece about this over at Vox and The Geekiary put together a real good rant about all of it. Also, here’s a Sexytimes with Wangxian tags generator that will pop out 3-5 random tags from the fic.
The Brits Are At It Again
Should I Buy A Piece Of Goatse With Ethereum???
This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord a few days ago. Of all the things to replace the famous goatse.cx URL, I think a blockchain operation is probably the worst thing it could have possibly been. Although, I guess it would have been worse if some digital marketing firm had turned it for a viral marketing campaign for a Supreme drop or something.
If you don’t know what Goatse is, well, it’s sort of hard to beat around the bush with describing it. It was a website hosting a picture of an amateur porn star named Kirk Johnson pulling his asshole open. It was part of the "unholy trilogy” of internet shock sites, which also included “Tub Girl,” which was a photo of a woman shitting on herself, and “lemon party,” which was a photo of a bunch of old men having sex with each other.
Goatse was hosted on a .cx domain up until 2004. Apparently, a resident of Christmas Island, which controls the .cx domain, complained. Goatse.cx has bounced around owners ever since. And, I didn’t realize this, but apparently the current owner of goatse.cx has been trying to break into the world of cryptocurrency since 2014. You know, I’ve been a little skeptical of this whole NFT gold rush, but if I can buy a pixel of Goatse, well, that changes everything.
Let’s Talk About The Jetski Motorbike
A truly good piece of internet content should feel as though a portal to another dimension has opened up and briefly allowed you to look into another world. Like the 4chan user who only has one song on his computer, Linkin Park’s “In The End,” and has listened to it 6000 times. Something like that appears in your feed suddenly and randomly and completely unbothered by its own madness.
That’s basically what happens in the TikTok above. The video was posted by a user named @deestemplexoxo. It begins with her explaining that her husband is going to be mad at her for denting their car. Then her husband pulls up on this:
“Yes he drives a jetski” is an immediately iconic internet phrase now. One user in her comment section called it a “boaterbike” and it has caused me to fully lose my mind. She actually followed up her video with a tour of the “scootski,” as she calls it. Apparently, he made it himself. Honestly, it seems cool as hell.
A Good Cake Remix
This is from a reader named Keith. It’s real good. Give it a couple seconds to get going.
A Good Meme
I Made A Playlist
I wrote a piece for Polygon’s very cool new series “The Next Generation Of Everything”. All of the pieces document this very strange and fragmented moment we’re living through right now where technology and social isolation has turned everything into micro cultural movements. My piece is about how TikTok has revived mall emo and scene kid culture. You can read it here. You also need to read this manifesto on owning three TVs.
And if you’re interested in listening to this new form of TikTok-optimized pop punk and emo, I made a playlist on Spotify!
P.S. here’s a video about the Joker.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***