The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: What is The Immortal Snail?

The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: What is The Immortal Snail?
Photo: arkallog, Shutterstock

This week, all the Zoomers are talking about the mysterious Immortal Snail and/or sitting at the feet of The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle to soak up the wisdom of Generation X’s lo-fi poet laureate. They’re an eclectic bunch.

What is The Immortal Snail (and why is it following me)?

TikTok is talking about The Immortal Snail. Where did it come from? What does it want? And more importantly, how can it be stopped?

The Immortal Snail is a thought experiment that’s been lurking around the edges of the pop culture-sphere since 2014, when the RoosterTeeth podcast posed this question: “You and a super-intelligent snail both get $US1 ($1) million and you both become immortal. However, you die if the snail touches you. It always knows where you are and slowly crawls toward you. What’s your plan?”

So The Snail’s been around for a minute, but it’s catching on big time on TikTok this week, where the Immortal Snail hashtag has over 187 million views on videos that offer helpful Immortal Snail hints, jokes, and ominous clips from the snail’s point-of-view.

(Obviously you put half of the money into long-term investments and use the other half to build a salt house in the middle of a salt flat where you wait and gloat as all your enemies die of old age. In 4,000 years, when the burden of Life become too great, you leave the salt flat and greet the awaiting Snail by saying, “Hello, old friend,” your last words.)

The Mountain Goats are having a viral moment

Today is the my favourite day, as I finally have an excuse to write about both snails and the greatest band in music history: The Mountain Goats. The crusty indie/lo-fi/folk-punk/rock band is going viral on TikTok, with early 16 million views on a hashtag full of young people using their searing divorce epic “No Children” as background music in tons of videos. Kids are getting tattoos, and even making dances to accompany the song’s desolate, soul-destroying chorus: “I am drowning. There is no sign of land. You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand. I hope you die. I hope we both die.”

The Mountain Goats belongs to 54 year-old singer/songwriter/literary novelist John Darnielle, whose reaction to viral status makes him the poster child for all out-of-touch adults. “There is a certain joy in sort of feeling like, well, the kids have got a thing going on that I’m not going to fully get, but I can just enjoy watching,” Darnielle told Vox. “I think people fear getting older and fear that they’ll feel left out, but there’s a kind of buoyancy in that left-out quality sometimes, if you ride it the right way.”

Special props to the band’s hardcore following, who are welcoming new fans with a refreshing lack of gate-keeping.

The Mountain Goats have released 20 studio albums since the early 1990s, and probably twice as many EPs, unreleased track collections, and other ephemera. They’re all great, but it’s daunting, so here’s a link to my Intro to the Mountain Goats playlist on Spotify if you want to become a lifelong obsessive.

Warnings of the week

It’s time once again to use the unpleasant experiences of young people as object lessons on what to avoid.

Do not do these things:

TikTok star JinnKid accused of double-murder

Ali Abulaban gained nearly a million followers on his TikTok for his comedy videos, but the 29 year-old, known online as JinnKid, is not laughing now. He’s cooling in jail in San Diego, up on charges of murdering his wife Ana and her friend Rayburn Barron. Abulaban pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could result in the death penalty.

The couple split on October 18, and Abulaban move out of the apartment the couple shared. But he reportedly snuck back in and installed a covert listening app on the couple’s five year-old daughter’s iPad. A few hours later, hearing his wife talking to another man, Abulaban entered the apartment and shot both of them dead. Abulaban, still armed, then picked up his daughter from school before being arrested.

According to Abulaban’s cousin Louis Marinari, social media stardom was partially to blame for the crime.“I definitely think it empowered him. I do think it made him feel like he was better than other people and that nobody could touch him,” Marinari told San Diego’s NBC 7.

Viral video of the week: Lightyear trailer

Tens of millions of fans have viewed and shared the teaser trailer for upcoming Pixar flick Lightyear since it dropped yesterday. Lightyear, which tells the origin story of Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, is slated for release in Summer of 2022.

Leaving aside the question of why a toy would even have an origin story* beyond “I was made in the factory,” the Lightyear trailer is amazing, promising a movie full of unrepentant space-action with a self-aware edge. Bonus points for using Bowie’s “Starman” in the soundtrack. It’s obvious, sure, but just so right for this trailer.

*Yeah, I know Lightyear is meant as the movie that inspired the creation of the Buzz Lightyear toy in the Toy Story universe; I’m making a joke.

 

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