Phil 7.20.2022

Still on vacation, but found this, which is nicely written and framed well

The year of garbage internet trends

  • Sea shanties are the framework with which I view a great many things that happened in 2021, because so many of them were entirely meaningless fads: blips on the radar lasting only for a moment but just long enough to obscure some larger, more important picture. It is fascinating to trace the origins of these glitches of nothingness: inconsequential tweets that turned into inconsequential TikToks that turned into inconsequential news articles that somehow, suddenly seemed more consequential than anything else that day.
  • Virality treats humans like fast fashion: algorithmically generated products to shove onto all of our screens at the same time, on which we then spend enormous sums of money and attention before ending up in the literal and/or figurative landfill. It isn’t just TikTok; as Shira Ovide points out in the New York Times, “Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook and many other popular sites operate on similar feedback loops that push more of whatever is being noticed,” which is how you get phenomena like sales of chess sets rising 125% after the release of “The Queen’s Gambit” before interest almost immediately plummeted back down to normal levels. We already live in a world where trends are determined by algorithms, and we will soon live in a world where even the content is created — literally — by them.