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This Week in Discourse: Rage Bait as Influencer Tactic
Plus: Reddit kills third party apps
Welcome to Friday! You made it! Here’s the weird and interesting stuff that happened on the internet this week.
But some people have noticed a pattern! It turns out HOA guy is Infinite Tomato guy!
What an odd coincidence - perhaps the man is just a fountain of naturally occurring bad takes? But twitter personality SwiftOnSecurity noticed that there are even more famous bad takes from this guy, and there appears to be a deeper game.
More than being a well of dunkable material, Nick Huber is also a Hustle Grindset Guy. He has a website where you can read his newsletter, listen to his podcast and buy his classes. Most of his feed is startup business advice, it’s all very ‘Make Money With Five Easy Tricks’ level stuff. And then on top of the hustle tweeting, he also does bad tweets on purpose.
There’s an emerging class of Poster who realizes that whether the attention is good or bad, it’s valuable. If you’re selling something, you’d rather have 10 million impressions where most of them hate you rather than 10 thousand impressions that are uniformly positive. Getting ratio’d on purpose is now an influencer strategy. Rage Bait is a tactic. As Scott Alexander might say - It’s bad on purpose to make you click. I think best practice for all dunks moving forward is to check the bio and make sure that Funny Bad Take Person isn’t a deliberate grift to sell a bitcoin book or a grindset coaching session.
Subscribe now so Jeremiah doesn’t have to Bad Tweet on purpose about how mariachi bands are secretly fascist
Reddit kills third party apps
Reddit sometimes seems like the sleeping giant of social discourse. It’s the fifth most visited site in the US, behind only Google, Facebook, YouTube and PornHub. And yet we talk about it far less than that sort of traffic would normally dictate. Reddit can be great, it can be terrible, but it’s more influential than I think most people realize.
That’s why it seems important to me to pay attention to big institutional changes at Reddit. This week, it became clear that Reddit wants to essentially kill third party apps for the site. Developers for the apps Apollo and Reddit Is Fun have both publicly announced that Reddit’s new API policy would put them out of business. According to these devs, the price to make API calls (essentially for their app to get data from the Reddit servers) is priced astronomically high - so high that the real intention is obviously to kill third party apps.
For most of reddit’s history, third party apps have been the best way to browse the site on mobile. Apps like Apollo, Infinity, Reddit is Fun, AlienBlue and BaconReader have been absolutely critical to the site’s development over time, because for years the site didn’t have an official dedicated app. Once an official app was developed, it was so much worse than the unofficial versions that Reddit had to hire the developers of AlienBlue.
For quite a long time Reddit has been fairly friendly to users who want to use the site in non-preferred ways. They allowed unofficial app readers to flourish. They changed to ‘New Reddit’ but kept maintaining old.reddit.com as an active option for people who prefer the old layout (which is superior). But the gig may be up, and some think it’s related to Reddit’s long awaited IPO. My general take here is that no site can remain a user-friendly paradise forever, and Reddit lasted longer than most. I’d be very surprised if a year from now the Old Reddit experience hasn’t also been degraded pretty significantly.
Swifties are coming unglued
I sincerely regret that I burned the ‘Swifties need to calm down’ joke too early in this process, because woooooooooo boy we’re at the open letter phase:
The #speakupnow hashtag is filled with stuff like this. One of my favorites was this breathtaking thread that manages to combined a deranged sense of self-importance, the inclusion of virtually every social justice catchphrase that exists, and a conclusion that they don’t actually need to stop listening to Taylor. Astounding stuff.
Look, internet people. I sincerely don’t want to be the arbiter of ‘Is Matty Healy a good person or an evil bigot’. Whether Healy is an asshole is least interesting part of this. At some level, independent of Healy, the Swifties are not ok.
The correct reaction to an artist doing something you find awful is to stop being a fan of that artist. Taylor Swift, dear Swiftie, is a person you have never met. You can just stop paying attention to her. It’s very easy! It’s the default state of most of the world! 99% of the world spends 99% of their time not thinking about Taylor Swift, and I promise you are also capable of that feat.
Experts agree that a paid subscription to Infinite Scroll is a much better parasocial experience compared with being a Swiftie
But fandoms aren’t just casual statements of ‘I enjoy this artist’. They are fully fledged identities. For some hardcore fans, that identity can be as strong as a religious or racial identity. Taylor Swift is not just an artist they enjoy, being a Swiftie is who they are on a deep level. And so rather than stop liking Taylor Swift because they think her boyfriend is gross, they embark on a hysterical quest to stop her from dating him.
I’m going to be writing more about both fandoms and identity in the future. For now, let’s just say I can’t decide what’s crazier:
That fans would rather do ‘hashtag campaign to get a woman worth five hundred million dollars to break up with her boyfriend’ rather than just find another artist to listen to.
That this campaign could actually have a non-zero chance of working. Who knows! It probably won’t, but wilder shit has happened before.
Remember when we talked about NBA star Ja Morant blowing up his life for online clout? NBA commissioner Adam Silver came out yesterday with an incredibly ominous statement: “We’ve uncovered a fair amount of additional information. We probably could have brought it to a head now, but we’ve made the decision that it would be unfair to these players and these teams to announce that decision in the middle of (the NBA Finals).” The NBA is literally doing teasers for Ja’s suspension! This does not seem like the kind of statement that comes before a slap-on-the-wrist punishment. This seems like the NBA has found more troubling stuff and is going to throw the fucking book at him. Hope Ja enjoyed the most expensive IG Live video of all time.
Artificial Intelligence! It’s here and it’s… well, it’s doing stuff! My favorite bit from this week was this AI-generated SpongeBob channel. It’s bizarre and surprisingly funny. I’ve just watched procedurally generated AI SpongeBob and Patrick discuss ‘Kanye East’ and the flat earth theory in the first five minutes of tuning in. Also in AI this week - dedicated chess AI is very good at chess, but LLMs apparently are not yet smart enough to understand how to play tic-tac-toe.
Links and Posts
I am delighted to inform you that Dwarf Metal (Tolkien, not Dinklage) is a genre of music that exists.
A poker player wins a $3.1 million pot on a single hand
An interesting post on the downfall of Genius.com
A LinkedInfluencer has important theories
We need more Socrates memes
A real life movie stunt
We talk about a lot of insane things here, so every This Week in Discourse ends with a happy thought. Here is a friendly cat who loves being buried in sand.