Exceeds prior peaks of cringe
This week: mind reading, MLMs, Twitch millionaires, screenshots, sandstorms and Amazon brands
Hi friends. Today is December 3, 2021.
Between the assault on abortion rights, the arrival of a Covid variant that sounds like a Marvel super-villain, and this bonkers research attempting to dim the actual, literal sun … you would not be wrong in wondering if today’s the day The End finally comes!
Alas, I have it on good authority we’re in for another three weeks at least. Hang in there, my friends, and never forget this cruel world still includes both abortion pills and dogs that look like celebrities.
If you read anything this weekend
“Up All Night With a Twitch Millionaire,” by Drew Harwell in The Washington Post. *Easily* the best story to date on “creator burnout,” the phrase we’ve apparently settled on to describe how much selling your online persona actually kinda sucks. For Tyler Steinkamp, who streams to 4.6 million followers on Twitch, all that fame and fortune have come with abuse, insomnia and crippling isolation.
“The Science of Mind Reading,” by James Somers in The New Yorker. The same technology that auto-completes your emails and powers Google Translate is also helping researchers map (and thus one day, read!) our brains. 🤯 This glimpse of the future is wayyy more interesting to me than anything Mark Zuckerberg has ever done. For further reading in this vein, plz also see this trio of sleep scientists on in-dream product placement.
“When Multilevel Marketing Met Gen Z,” by Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic. Meet the new MLM, same as the old MLM — with a well-filtered sheen and less single-use plastics. Now the scam involves $5,000 water machines. Also: $100 bags of dirt billed as “magic” “organics”!
“The Twitter Wildfire Watcher Who Tracks California’s Blazes,” by Boone Ashworth in Wired. Michael Silvester spends as many as 18 hours a day tweeting about a country he’s never visited. It’s a very … peculiar … hobby, but someone (apparently?) has to do it. Fwiw, Silvester is part of Fire Twitter, which is part of Scanner Twitter, which is always intriguing/occasionally disruptive.
“Tool: Screenshot,” by Kim Beil in Believer. A lovely history of/reflection on screenshots as artifacts — what Kim calls “snapshots of interior life” and the camera roll’s “subconscious.”
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Suitcase Tetris. Extremely niche aesthetics. “May you continue to shine like a diamond.” Ryan from The OC is a crypto critic now, I guess, surpassing Seth Cohen in my affections. The trouble with “task work.” Why DVDs still exist. “It’s just become part of the job with the internet — if you do cool stuff, people are going to want to take it.”
Hangman, but make it emoji. Creator comforts. The high cost of being single and the metaverse land rush. GPT-3 is almost certainly going to replace me. Elizabeth Holmes’ daily schedule exceeds prior peaks of cringe. Last but not least: an ode to the friends you make online, and a handy tool to detect Amazon brands.
That’s it for this week! Until the next one. Warmest virtual regards.