It’s been a slow-week in the world of popular culture for kids. I guess everyone is too busy studying for final exams and holiday shopping to make memes or create dangerous “TikTok challenges.” Still, young people found time to organise a massive online labour action and cook gigantic hamburgers.
Internet labour-activism: Reddit vs. Kellogg’s
This week, Reddit’s antiwork board found a reason to exist beyond complaining about bad bosses — it inserted itself into a labour dispute at the Kellogg’s company. A strike at the company that had been going on since October ended badly for workers this week when the company said “to hell with negotiating” and announced it would fire 1,400 employees who had the temerity to ask for a better wages and benefits and hire other people to replace them.
“Not so fast,” responded Reddit. A post on the site called for users to flood Kellogg’s job board with applications, and gave detailed instructions on how to appear as a legit applicants. TikTok users joined in with a script that auto-generates applications, and others posted instructions for creating fake resumes to get past filters. It worked, too, at least for a little bit. Kellogg’s job portal was down for most of the day. It’s back up now, though. Just sitting there, waiting for you to apply for a factory job. The real test will come when the company’s human resources department starts calling up new applicants. If this was done right, there will be a ton of “no shows” to interviews.
Sneakers with “Hypetags”
Sneakerhead culture has seemingly reached an important technological milestone. Hypetags are digital price-tags for sneakers that update to display the current market value of your kicks. The product is only semi-real. It actually exists and works, but it’s not on sale. It’s a send-up of the real shoe-freak trend of keeping the price tags on your sneakers. The video is from @lanewinfield, whose past parody products include Shoom, a webcam for your shoes, complete with mini ring-light, and an old-school toilet flusher to end Zoom calls. The not-real nature of the hypetag hasn’t stopped people from angrily reacting in the comment with cold-takes like “no better way to say you aren’t superficial than letting everyone else know how much your shoes cost,” and “How to get mugged 101.”
TikTok’s “rare aesthetics”
I’ve disappeared into a peculiar TikTok rabbit hole: “Rare aesthetics.” It’s a sort of catchall tag where many videos are designed to evoke small, unheralded moments of life, like going to the movies in middle school, driving to Newark airport, or when old people like me say things like “we were the first people to use Facebook.” There’s also interesting nostalgia for things you’d think no one would remember fondly or even notice, like this video that compares the cheapest-possible-fixtures of 1990s apartments with their current counter-parts, and this one that makes you long for Calabasas before famous people moved there. It’s the kind of “I’m not sure I get this, but maybe I do” experience that either excites you or depresses you, depending on your disposition.
TikTok’s top 2021 recipes
If you want faddish food, TikTok has you covered. As part of its year in review,, the social media platform released its most popular recipes of 2021, and it’s an eclectic group of fad-foods. The top-dishes run the gamut from “that’s probably delicious” selections, like the number one entry, the folded tortilla/quesadilla hack, to I-wouldn’t-eat-that-on-a-dare fare like this fried cheese blob, a dish sure to clog both your arteries and your colon. For health freaks, there’s “nature’s cereal, a berries and coconut water mix that will clean out your pipes and make you feel like you can run a marathon…according to its creator. There are some foods I’m going to have to make because I can’t decide if they’d be gross or amazing, like air fryer pasta chips and pesto eggs. Oh, and because its TikTok, there are also pure gimmicks, like this gigantic burger. The big food thing is thoroughly played, people.
Viral video of the week: We lied to you
The science explainers over at Kurzgesagt have a confession to make: They’ve been lying to you this whole time. According to this week’s viral video, “We Lied to You,” all aimed-at-the-public science content is essentially lying to you. At issue is the idea of science communication versus science education, and the impossibility of crushing the complexity of scientific concepts into understandable and enjoyable content. It’s a fascinating and important subject, that touches on existential questions about how we understand anything at all, and the dangers of making people think they understand something deeply when they’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s important, interesting, but still entertaining to consider, and it makes me happy when thought-provoking ideas like this are shared widely on YouTube.