Skinification and The Boyfriend Effect
after school weekend edition
Welcome back to After School ✨weekend edition✨. Think of the daily letter as the CliffsNotes; this is the extended version for paid subscribers.
This week, I’ve been unable to watch anything other than TikTok’s congressional hearing. (Except for, embarrassingly enough, the Gwyneth Paltrow ski trial — big week for CourtTV in this household). Both have been highly meme-able, and that’s not a good thing!
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I’ve read literally hundreds of articles (and watched as many TikToks 😵💫) about this hearing and what a TikTok ban could mean for the creator economy, the Internet, the world. It’s important to recognize — and I’m sure you do, but I believe many don’t — that this is not just about TikTok.
In one of the better pieces I read this week, Kyle Chayka — who is both very smart and very online, essential qualities when you’re reporting on this topic — wrote for the New Yorker about how the hearing has “inspired little faith in social media or in Congress,” with lawmakers casting “the company as a scapegoat for the sins of all algorithmic platforms.”
“Addictive algorithms” came up repeatedly during questioning. Representative Jay Obernolte, a Republican from California who in 1990 founded a video-game studio, was more eloquent about technology than some of his colleagues. Algorithms “gather user data then use powerful A.I. tools to make eerily accurate predictions of human behavior, then manipulate that behavior,” he said. He was right, but the description could apply equally to the algorithmic feeds used by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, because data gathering has been left relatively unregulated in the U.S.—owing to the failure of Congress to pass new online-privacy laws, as the European Union has already done. As Chew pointed out, “We do not collect any more data than any other companies out there.”
Today, we’re talking about:
Nike Air Max Day
Sak bags (remember those???)
Caroline Calloway (the other CC)
The Boyfriend Effect
And everything else that happened this week in brands, trends, and online culture.
Thanks for reading :)
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