A huge, huge thank you to Embedded — one of my favorite youth culture newletters — for chatting with me yesterday. You can read our conversation here, and if you’re not already a subscriber, then, well, honestly I feel sorry for you ‘cause you’re missing out!
Supreme x Tiffany launched today (something I only learned after randomly walking by the Williamsburg store, which is currently surrounded by 500 tween hypebeasts); how Taylor Swift’s Red became Gen Z’s first big breakup album; meet BabyTron, your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper; and Grimes is forming an AI girl group.
“TikTok boy hair” — which you’ve undoubtedly come across if you spend any time on the app — is “the simultaneous cousin and antithesis of a pompadour,” and involves a flat iron, a hefty dose of sea salt spray, and often a girlfriend to assist.
As Gen Z navigates the pandemic world, a tuft of fluffy hair perched on one’s head is surely one way to peacock, or perhaps even signal to older generations that the views and ideals of those coming up are unlike those who came before.
↳ Counterpoint: The rise and rise of the post-lockdown buzz cut.
Young men (who, as a group, are historically incapable of communicating) are now bonding via podcasts: “There seems to be this real fear with American men that if they’re just alone with each other talking, something could happen. So podcasting — which is fairly cheap to start doing and pretty easy to do poorly — is like the urban millennial campfire.”
Congress sent a letter to TikTok yesterday seeking information on the platform's algorithm; they cite concern over "TikTok's troubling practice of showing dangerous content to minors, including sex- and drug-related videos and videos peddling COVID-19 misinformation." It’s…about time?
"The Subcommittee is deeply concerned that TikTok risks harming millions of children because of its failure to adequately police the harmful content on its app while it continues to experience rapid growth," Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of Congress's Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, wrote in the letter.
↳ Speaking of: App Annie predicts TikTok to reach 1.5 billion active users in 2022.
HOW ARE KIDS HANDLING THE PANDEMIC? WE ASKED THEM., fivethirtyeight
Tl;dr: They’re handling it pretty well! While 34 percent of parents were concerned about their kids’ mental health, about half as many teens — 18 percent — found their own mental health concerning. More than half said their mental health hadn’t changed at all since the start of the pandemic.
THE MYTH OF THE WOKE COLLEGE GRADUATE, atlantic
I know we’re all tired of the word “woke,” but this has some valuble insight into the generational shifts around politics, education, even language — basically, things are changing whether you want them to or not. (“Language is constantly evolving, and once terms such as pregnant people become the norm among younger generations, they tend to persist. Referring to women as ‘Ms.,’ rather than by the marital-status markers Miss and Mrs., was controversial until it became widely accepted.”)
Some good stats on Gen Z and holiday spending…
81% of teens plan to shop "in-store" this year, compared to 68% last year, with 70% also shopping online (this is consistent with the Accenture study that came out a few weeks ago, which reported that the majority of Gen Z plans to shop in store this holiday season)
78% of teens plan to spend "the same" or "more" on gifts this holiday season
55% are concerned that global supply chain issues will result in shortages of gift items this holiday season (though, surely Santa owns his own supply chain?)
One last thought: