It's Cheap and Disposable
Social media prowess is fleeting
Welcome to this week’s sh!tpost newsletter. I unfortunately need to scratch the June 3 episode of the podcast from production. I’ll be scuba diving instead, if all goes to plan, since the rate of poison I put into my brain warrants occasional breaks.
The plug: I joined the guys at Liquid Flannel for a conversation about billionaires, fascism, and the Weather Channel. It was a lot of fun and I hope to join them again sometime in the near future.
Social Media Prowess is a Disposable Commodity
An observation that’s been bouncing around my head since Michael Edison Hayden alluded to it on a previous episode of the show is the temporal nature of digital success and how, once invalidated, online audiences will abandon and discard their previously beloved influencers. It’s certainly the case when it comes to the extremists we both cover, but it’s also true across the broader web.
The latest example of this phenomena comes in the case of Instagram influencer @Arii. BuzzFeed wrote it up earlier this week. Arii is an 18-year-old Instagram persona with 2.6 million followers at the time of this newsletter. The content is about what you’d expect from any of the platform’s notables: a steady stream of portraits showing the subject dressed in high-end fashion, traveling the globe, and… oh, and posts paying tribute to 9/11?
Arii tried to launch a fashion brand with her Instagram success, but said she had not managed to sell the 36 shirts needed to launch her product line. This seems like an incredibly low bar for someone with so many followers online, requiring just one of every 72,000 followers to have purchased an article of original clothing.
This is not an outlier to influencer culture. Oftentimes, I worry that our perceptions of who wields sway online is wildly distorted by the metrics displayed on social media accounts like badges of honor: likes, comments, retweets, followers, etc.
Those numbers are just a metric and don’t reflect the actual sway a figure has, and certainly doesn’t reflect their immunity to criticism as a public figure. Another salient example from this week is Dave Rubin, the heralded “classical liberal” who just so happens to nod along to any right-wing talking point presented before him.
Rubin took issue with a Quillete article that offered an incredibly mild criticism of his programming. It put forth an incredibly gentle critique of his show and the supposed “Intellectual Dark Web” online daring to entertain ideas that are most certainly staple of right-wing ideology.
Rubin and his supporters typically respond that he cannot be faulted for interviewing controversial guests. True enough; however, he doesn’t simply have them on but treats them as allies against “SJWs” or “the regressive left” and allows them to masquerade as reasonable anti-PC centrists. There is a video compilation of Rubin addressing Watson (a YouTuber who has promoted conspiracy theories about water fluoridation, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting), Cernovich (who has flogged pedophilia panics and declared that “diversity is code for white genocide”), and Molyneux (who routinely rants against “low-IQ,” “rapey” minorities) as fellow members of a “new center.” When Southern, a Canadian ex-libertarian turned white identitarian, appeared on Rubin’s show, she argued—unchallenged—that alt-right icon Richard Spencer was not really a “white supremacist” but merely a supporter of a “white ethnostate.”
This is as gentle as a critique of Rubin can get; Rubin and his guests often veer into far-right territory and Rubin does what he does best—nods along in agreement to whatever ideas are put before him while dismissing any progressive critique of those ideas.
Although Quillete has emerged as the so-called “IDW” favorite of outlets, it is finding itself in the middle of a right-wing civil war of sorts. By appealing to the tribal nature of its heralded personalities’ success, it plotted its own downfall.
I feel nothing for Quillete, as it is an outlet that publishes utter garbage, no matter the source. But it is interesting that the very thing that led to its prominence is now contributing to its demise.
Speaking of disposable, there are few figures that represent this fade off into the horizon as well as Milo Yiannopolous. Since he was deplatformed and unpersoned from the conservative movement, his tone has remained vindictive, especially toward figures like Rubin, who threw him under the bus without a second glance.
Milo went from being a near-household figure of political discussion to being often forgotten, since comment emerged when he appeared to endorse pederasty and subsequently lost his millionaire funding. He auctioned off his supplies used to attempt a comeback. He’s millions in debt. It is forever over for Milo and there’s nothing he will be able to do to reverse that.
Social media influence is fleeting at best and destructive at worst; racking up an audience online rarely helps those who achieve it.
My (Cliff) Wife!
Last weekend, a video went viral for all the wrong reasons. A family was walking along a knoll when, all of a sudden, a woman fell down the embankment. That moment was caught on film, and subsequently packaged for internet virility.
“I literally thought I was going to die,” the woman claims in the now viral video. “It sure changes your perspective. … Life can change in a split second.”
The fall, while surely a terrifying moment for the family, was almost instantly passed around the Twitter equivalent of an office water cooler, which is an expression that my millennial brain doesn’t understand. What the hell is a water cooler even for? Google tells me that ice has been readily available since the turn of the 20th Century.
Anyway, back to cliff wife.
As I was saying, the video was shared by those unimpressed by the fall, or at the very least skeptical of the motivations of transforming the moment of brief peril into clickbait with a corny, generic takeaway.
The Cliff Wife incident is emblematic of the way social media has trained our brains to process our lives as 👏 marketable 👏 content 👏. The whole grab was a cheap shot into the broader internet, and it still worked despite the creators assumed reasons it would work.
True education at work:
Never forget the O.G.:
I would take a knee for this:
Ben Shapiro made it to Cursed Boomer Images:
This is mostly funny because it feels real:
Hell yeah, brother.
Here’s a cat to end this week: