In-person things are just… messy

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So it turns out this free weekly email doesn’t have an editor or proofreader, and I often mix up hyperlinks because I’m like that. And since SO MANY of you reached out about a broken link from last week, I thought we could take a closer look at it….

NYT: There’s a Specific Kind of Joy We’ve Been Missing

It’s a guest essay from Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton and the host of the TED podcast “WorkLife.” He also wrote that article about “languishing” that you probably heard about and perhaps subsequently used that term in conversation.

In this new op-ed, Grant reintroduces a term called “collective effervescence” that I don’t find very accessible and don’t foresee using. However, I did find a lot of value in the conversation he framed around that term. Specifically, that “most people view emotions as existing primarily or even exclusively in their heads. Happiness is considered a state of mind; melancholy is a potential warning sign of mental illness. But the reality is that emotions are inherently social: They’re woven through our interactions.” 

He points to the reopening of social activities in the U.S. and how they are triggering the rebirth of shared live experiences at a scale and emotional impact level we couldn’t experience and may have forgotten simply living through just our screens this past year. Although we can be happy alone, he argues, our peak happiness comes when we share experiences with one another. 

It’s the kind of article that’s helpful to read as we’re all being pulled out of our comfortable at-home routines and rituals. I know I’ve been personally struggling with the human variables that affect human gatherings as we start to resume them — the dread of driving somewhere, the stress when a gather runs late, awkward silences, the inability to multitask and the need to actually have to pay attention.

Things were so much more simple and manageable and efficient when everyone was in their respective Zoom box, and we could rely on our overly scheduled, digital-only communications. In-person things are just… messy. But that’s good for us humans, too. It’s worth pushing past this period of uncomfortability. And necessary.

Grant writes, “Psychologists find that in cultures where people pursue happiness individually, they may actually become lonelier. But in cultures where they pursue happiness socially — through connecting, caring and contributing — people appear to be more likely to gain well-being.

If you watched the Jeff Bezos rocket launch this past week, you probably heard the live audio (or perhaps later watched the video) of the four “astronauts” laughing, shouting, and celebrating weightlessness and an incredible view of the planet as they unbuckled their seatbelts in near-space. It was a real-world example of the joy of celebrating a human accomplishment together as a shared experience. And compared to the excitement one would feel doing that by oneself, it was clearly more enjoyable. I’m both super jealous and also still adjusting to doing things with others at my house, let alone 66 miles above the ground.

I was fortunate to spend lockdown employed, healthy, and with my immediate family. We did things like “Surprise Weekend Road Trips,” and my wife and I played bar trivia via Zoom every single Sunday for a year to stay mentally engaged at a base level. And it worked (even if we earned last place almost every week).

But even with some of that “doing things” muscle memory intact, I haven’t been super excited to leave my home office as the world starts to reopen. I have faster internet at home than at the office. The food is better. My kids and wife are there. And my non-existent commute is fantastic. But I have also gotten a ton of energy from IRL coffee with my team, a new business lunch, IRL company party, and a board meeting trip to L.A.

I’m rebuilding my stamina and starting to feel the psychological benefits of doing off-screen things with others again. In fact, I’m writing this on a plane to NYC traveling with six (6!) coworkers, knowing I have a lot of email to get through and Microsoft Teams meetings to attend that I won’t make while we’re in cabs and meetings and dinner and more. It’s an adjustment.

Doing things with others is messy and inefficient, but it is okay to feel both stress and emotional fulfillment in those experiences at the same time. In fact, that used to be the norm.

It took a ton of mental and emotional bandwidth to lock ourselves down. So we should expect an equal or greater amount of effort to open ourselves back up.

With that said, a lot of folks are going to struggle coming out of this. Many of our relationships and routines we counted on before have fractured. Not everyone had the privilege or support networks my peers and I had in this latest season of life.

So check on your people. Give each other an extra measure of grace. Let your coworkers miss an email or meeting or two while they adjust. And look for opportunities to step away from the screen and revel in the inefficient, messy nature of being with others.

From a marketing perspective, we need to be considerate of how our audiences are coming back into in-person environments and to consider how to create opportunities for collective effervescence (damn it, I used the word) or at least not hamper them. Depending on your brand’s voice and mission, perhaps there are appropriate opportunities to help facilitate some of these restart and re-engagement moments. But let’s not be advantageous. It’s a pretty dynamic situation and it’s going to take some time to level out.

For now, I’m going to quickly skim this email for typos and broken links, hit send on this email and head off to an in-person meeting where I try not to look at my phone. I may not succeed, but honestly, I’m kind of messy. -G.

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

The Buzz About Space Tourism Hasn’t Even Gotten Started: Going to “space” is now officially a marketing gimmick, complete with brand partner vehicles, uniform fashion brands you can buy to wear at home, and even a space-inspired single release from Khalid. First Virgin Galactic and now Blue Origin are making space tourism a thing, even though it’s intangible for most, contentious for many, and arguable that these “astronauts” haven’t even reached “space” yet. However, SpaceX will send a crew of private citizens on a multi-day journey around the Earth as soon as next month and – assuming there isn’t a disaster at home or above – this news cycle and the marketing stunts around them are here to stay.  

Olympics Are Trending: Adweek has a great roundup of what brands are doing for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics here. Ad spend for the Games surpassed spend for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and the streaming boom of the past year means that there are now several ways to stream the Olympics. But if your brand isn’t an Olympic sponsor, be sure to abide by Rule 40, which says only approved sponsors may reference “Olympic-related terms.” New for this year, athletes are limited to seven statements or social media posts gratifying their (non-Olympics) sponsors and those sponsors will still not be permitted to include pictures or words regarding the Olympics. Fun!

Social Infomercials Growing in PopularityShoppertainment is a term used to describe the convergence of livestreaming, entertainment, and commercials. The format is already popular in Asia and starting to gain traction in the West. You can tune into Amazon Live right now to see an example. PopShop Live is an app modeled after Asia’s livestream shopping habit. ShopShops livestreams from stores in the US to customers in Asia. And look to Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and other major platforms to continue to help advance this trend.

NFTs Are Not a Fad That’s Going Away: This week a top-tier VC Andreessen Horowitz led a huge $100 million funding round for the largest of the NFT trading marketplaces, OpenSea. It’s now valued at $1.5 billion.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a cryptocurrency token that is connected to the blockchain and represents a digital good while permanently and traceably marking its ownership and uniqueness. And although you may have heard about absurd prices for NFT art, they have a lot more value than one-off promotions.

Fast Company writes, “a $100 million investment in the largest NFT marketplace led by a top-tier VC like Andreessen Horowitz makes a statement. The investors believe that NFTs have real and lasting utility and are not a passing fad. Indeed, the VC sees NFTs as a distribution vehicle for digital content that lets the content creator better control and profit from their work.”

Discord For More Than Gaming, and Growing: Discord is now six years old and growing like crazy. If this growth keeps up, some think they may go public. The Discord platform is a VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities. Users communicate with voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media and files in private chats or as part of communities called “servers”. The Discord of today has more than 150 million monthly active users, and 19 million active servers each week. Here are some tips for creating a discord server for you and your friends.

Key quote: “With its growing scale, a platform might try to drive revenue through advertising. But Discord has so far refused. “We have intentionally pursued a business model that does not rely on monetizing our users’ data,” Vishnevskiy says. While there are opportunities for some brands to engage with loyal customers—Chipotle held a virtual job fair on the app, and fashion retailer All Saints held a fan Q&A on Discord’s Clubhouse-like audio feature—the most successful ones seem to treat their servers like a fan club.”

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!
Greg

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We live in a society

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We Live in a Society. It’s a meme and common saying among Gen Z-ers, whether they know where it came from or not. And although I’m familiar with the meme and have used it myself, I didn’t really know it’s origin story in detail. So this week I went deep on the meme’s history and found some surprises in that research.

Typically connected to the Joker but always focusing on different aspects of culture that are in conflict – one popular and the other under acknowledged but complex – the meme has history in gamer culture, incel humor, woke satire, and even the Chinese Restaurant episode of Seinfeld. This meme is SO DEEP and tied to so many aspects of the past/present/future of the internet, it’s super hard to explain. You have to just kind of feel it.

As Janae Madden wrote, “If you aren’t aware of this meme – or have just come to accept you probably aren’t deep enough into the internet to get it – don’t worry, that’s the entire point of its appeal… Platforms like TikTok, 4chan, and Reddit thrive off this same exclusive community consciousness and, like Seinfeld, it can be difficult to penetrate them from the outside.

I feel that way about a lot of the social culture that’s fueling trends and movements these days. It’s increasingly hard to explain to those who were late to adopt (internet, message boards, instant messaging, SMS, social networks) and especially to those who are still avoiding TikTok in 2021.

Culture is both decentralizing into niche groups powered by individualized media and yet centralized around core themes fueled by a shared digital history not everyone understands or can fully comprehend. I suppose that’s what makes modern marketers great and keeps consultants like me in business. But it’s something I’m thinking more about – especially after a two week vacation and some time to really think and process.

So if there’s something in trending or subcultures today that you don’t understand whatsoever or are not feeling right now, that’s okay. We Live in a Society.

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

Pokémon Go Turned 5, and It’s Bigger than Ever: Just five years ago you could find people gathered at almost any city park, statue, and most Buffalo Wild Wings just staring at their phones and trying to “capture” hologram Pokemon characters you could only “see” with your phone. It was the most significant augmented reality (AR) adoption event of our lifetime, and the company behind it, Niantic Games, just posted its highest profit to date. There have been multiple spin-offs (Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Transformers), and the idea of using your phone to access a digital layer on the world is completely mainstream. Here’s to the next 5!

Everyone is Gaming Now: The U.S. gaming population is slightly more male and less racially diverse than the country as a whole, but it’s also growing. The answer to the question of who plays games in America is — with notable exceptions — gradually becoming “most people.” Key stats: 77% of gamers play with others every week, up from 65% the year prior. 74% of parents play with gamers with their children, up from 55% the year prior. What’s next? The rise of the gaming creator economy and social game-making, not just playing.

TikTok is Beating Facebook In Time Spent Per User: For the first time users are spending more time on TikTok than Facebook, with time spent on TikTok up 325% year-over-year, which means it’s now beating Facebook in terms of hours spent per user per month. Average time spent is up for nearly every app in every market, but few are up by as much as TikTok. TikTok ranks in the top 5 by time spent, and the rate at which it grew over the past year outpaces nearly every other app analyzed in the report. Before the end of 2021, expect TikTok to join Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, and China’s WeChat in 1B monthly active users.insta.singleA post shared by @insta.single

Geeky Reads of the Week: 1) How googly eyes solved one of today’s trickiest UX problems; 2) Meet the teens running fan pages for 2000s TV shows that aired when they were babies; 3) In 2030, You Won’t Own Any Gadgets; 4) People are breaking up with Apple Podcasts

Leadership Reads of the Week: 1) Seth Godin asks, “Magnetic or Sticky?”; 2) Austin Kleon points out the trap of using the phrase “Don’t get me wrong”; 3) How Working From Home Has Changed Employees; 4) I have ‘pandemic brain’. Will I ever be able to concentrate again?; 5) There’s a Specific Kind of Joy We’ve Been Missing; 6) The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures.

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!
Greg

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The Busy Trap turns 9 years old

As we head into a holiday weekend and some much-needed PTO in the coming weeks by yours truly, here are some thoughts I’ve been dumping into my Notes app the past month…

For a long time, we had to really fight clients on making blatant engagement bait on brand social posts. It’s not pandering or a lack of craft; it’s smart strategy. We’re now at the stage where posts like “how many likes can this cup get?” will trend on Instagram (#client), and I’m honestly here for it. However, I couldn’t believe how well the share-and-win Venmo contest scaled this week. Embedded summarized it well: “People who have constructed online personas of snarky cynicism and carefully filtered images were tossing all pretense aside for $500 they almost certainly wouldn’t win.”

If you ask a young person what they want to be when they grow up, the number one thing they will say is “influencer.” But now with the changing NCAA NIL rules, college students can get sponsorships and influencer contracts from brands while still in school – including for their social content. My wife and I have poked fun at the parents who change their entire family dynamic around the dream that their kids are going to play pro sports and get rich. But now an athlete with a strong TikTok following actually can make bank. It feels like this social signal will trickle down and encourage young people to be even more influencer-as-career focused.

ASMR is moving from a social media oddity (and Super Bowl commercial joke) into a genuine resource that may have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health. Even though the medical community may not embrace it, I’m seeing more and more ASMR content that is seriously produced and consumed, versus referenced as a joke.

Social listening tools are better than ever before, but social listening reports are increasingly not as relevant. Because they can only scan public social sources (public Twitter, public Facebook, blogs, etc.) and given the heavy adoption of “dark social media” (text, chat apps, DMs), that means fewer people are sharing their opinions in those public places for us to scrape, curate, synthesize into themes and make inferences. These reports are still good for directional and anecdotal insights, but the social listening report we know today is past its peak.

The kids are watching shorter videos than ever before. Thanks to TikTok and YouTube Shorts, the attention span of young people to watch a meme or get to the hook of a joke video is shorter than ever. The average length of the videos my 12-year-old son is sending me right now are 8 seconds, and many are shorter. I know TikTok is expanding to 3 minutes, but I think this shorter video thing is important to watch. And if you haven’t spent much time on YouTube Shorts, you should. I think it could be bigger than the YouTube we know today.

As you, your colleagues, and/or clients are transitioning to hybrid work or in-person meetings, there are new things we need think about: Don’t assume video when booking a meeting. Include audio options, and send materials in advance. A hard stop on a meeting no longer means ending a Zoom and joining another, so cushion in-person time with travel or transition time. And don’t forget in-person meetings are notoriously nonlinear and messy (aka wonderfully human). In our last year of digital-only work style, there hasn’t been as much room for humanity. So plan for these meetings to run over their scheduled time, and enjoy it!

Every quarter I keep track of the songs I’m gravitating toward for that particular season of life and curate them into a playlist that defines that specific moment in time. Since it’s now July and we’re headed into Q3, I wanted to share my Q2 playlist with y’all. LMK what you think.

It’s the 9-year anniversary of The Busy Trap, a powerful op-ed in the NYT that I’ve referenced often about how everyone is busy –  even children are busy – and how idleness is perceived as a vice in our busy world. As we emerge from lockdown and start to become overscheduled, I found it a helpful read.

Give it a skim… if you’re not too busy.

Here are the other social signals I’m tracking this week…

SOURCE: Idea Pins from @verykookat, via Embedded

Instagram to Become TikTok; Pinterest Becomes Instagram? “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app,” said Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram this week. Instead, the app is trying to be a general entertainment app driven by algorithms and video (aka TikTok), prioritizing Reels in our feeds, even from people you don’t follow. As Instagram moves more toward video, Gen Z is starting to share photos on… Pinterest!

What Does Gen Z Have Against Question Marks and Periods: Every generation redefines the written language, or as my Grandma would say, ruins it. Today’s young folks write more via text and chat than anywhere else, and as such, they are assigning new meanings to age-old punctuation. Question marks are exclamation points. And periods can infer irritability.

Key quote: “If you’re talking to one of your colleagues who uses formal punctuation, maybe you’ll use a question mark. But if you’re texting with your kid who you know uses more informal punctuation, you might not use a question mark there because your kid will think you’re mad at them.” So pretty much just stop using punctuation entirely, k

SOURCE: Facebook, The Evolving Customer Experience 6/2021

Changing Consumer Habits Thanks to the Pandemic: Facebook published a new report which looks at how consumer habits have changed as a result of the pandemic, and the key trends that are driving the big shifts in how people find and purchase products, including increased mobile usage, concerns about data privacy, the rise of the creator economy and more.

Key findings: 69% of global online shoppers feel more personally connected to brands that offer personalized content or deals. 60% are interested in using a personalized shopping tab to discover tailored content. 56% report [using their devices when making in-store purchases] for an increased sense of confidence in their purchase decisions. 35% of US shoppers seeking information on their phones to make sure there are no better options. Over half (51%) of consumers surveyed get ideas on which products to shop for from celebrities and creators. 45% of online shoppers globally say they want to buy products promoted by creators directly on social media. Get the report here.

Quick hits:

See you on the internet!
Greg

Ads are coming to VR

Facebook is starting to test how advertising will work in virtual reality. This is an important social signal because we know ads are coming to mixed reality (XR) experiences in the long run, but we don’t yet know how those will work, what consumers will tolerate, and how it will drive substantive ROI for brands.

SOURCE: Google Glasses Remixed with Google Ads (Parody)

We’re growing accustomed to AR ads powered by our phones, apps, and platforms (e.g., Facebook Camera Effects, Snapchat filters, interactive billboards, and packaging that comes to life), but we haven’t really seen advertising products or testing at any significant scale in VR. The news of note last week was that Facebook would be testing ads inside Oculus Quest experiences, starting with a single gaming shooter title: Blaston from Resolution Games.

It’s early days, folks. So it’s not surprising there was a lot of pushback, especially for a $10 paid game. And as a result of the consumer pushback, Resolution Games has now announced the VR ads test will be in a free game instead, Bait! VR. Putting ads in a free game actually makes more intuitive sense for where ads may appear in VR in the future — just like today’s social platforms and freemium mobile games where the service is free in exchange for viewing ads.

I actually love playing Bait, and so do my kids. And you can see where a sponsored item or “watch ad to unlock” experience, gear, or fish would be additive to gameplay. Brand integration is a key part of modern gaming (think of brand integrations in Madden, FIFA, Fortnite, etc.), so it’s intuitive that brands could engage this way in VR. I think this would be way more acceptable to VR users than programmatic ads, at first.

Screenshot from Bait! VR

But again, it’s early days. And these kinds of start/stop/pivots are going to be necessary as the world’s biggest XR platforms figure out how to monetize the coming age of digital content in a physical world. And highly-targeted, programmatic branded content (I tried not to say ‘ads’ again), is certainly on its way into these experiences. Thankfully the big players are learning from previous missteps around consumer education, privacy, and working ahead of international legislation…

Facebook likely realizes that there are going to be plenty of privacy questions and addressed some of them head-on. The biggest admission is that Facebook says it will not be using any data stored locally on the Oculus headset, including images from the device’s cameras to target ads. It also says, somewhat less emphatically, that there are “no plans to use movement data to target ads.” … Facebook specifically notes it doesn’t use audio conversations on the headset for ad targeting. – TechCrunch, 6/2021

Although Facebook has a patent for an AR hat that may or may not hit the market in the coming years, smart glasses are coming. Whether it’s Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Snap, or all of the above, by 2030 there will be smart XR-enabled glasses to contend with in our daily lives. Even with a dip from the pandemic, the global smart glasses market is expected to take off by 2030, with forecasts estimating the market will be worth $2.3 billion.

SOURCE: Smart glasses market expected to take off by 2030

Beyond the tech for your face, the rapid adoption of RFID, Bluetooth, QR codes, object recognition A.I., location data, and Apple AirTags means that the real world is increasingly pre-labeled and identifiable for these XR devices. And that’s a place we marketers can start planning around, too.

Facebook alone has 10,000 people working across both VR and AR. The company is “investing billions and billions and billions of dollars to build something that we think will contribute to a compelling future five to 10 years from now,” Mark Zuckerberg said at the VivaTech conference last week. Facebook has been acquiring talent and technology in this space at an alarming rate. So they are certainly the one to watch as we think about ads coming into VR and learning what we know about ads in AR through our phones.

“Facebook is going to probably have a near-monopoly in VR software before it even matters… Facebook will have literally reinvented itself for a new paradigm shift in computing by the time regulation gets around to addressing it in its current state.” – Platformer

SOURCE: Forbes

Will ads in our smart glasses make our reality look like Keiichi Matsuda’s Hyper-Reality short film? Maybe in 20 years. But probably not. Ideally, these ads are NOT just a reinterpretation of the banner ad (which is 27 years old now, btw) or disruptive pop-ups, and instead, they become a true reinterpretation of what targeted, experiential marketing can be at its very best. And that will require testing, starts, and stops.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/YJg02ivYzSs?start=52&rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

Do we want ads in these VR and AR platforms and experiences? That’s the wrong question to ask. How will ads show up in XR to offer increased value, entertainment, and utility? That’s the right place to focus. Where there are eyeballs, there will be ads.

And it’s a modern marketer’s job to anticipate trends and then help dream, test, iterate, and direct how our brands will affect these future mediums. That’s what it’s all about. -Greg

Here’s are the other social signals I’m tracking this week…

Hear This – Social Audio Hits Mainstream: Facebook Audio Rooms are now live for selected public figures, users, and Facebook Groups. Twitter Spaces is now expanded to all users. Clubhouse is now on Android. Spotify launched its live audio app, Spotify Greenroom. The Information has a great chart here (via “The Week Social Audio Went Mainstream”) that breaks down the differences and similarities.

Cashierless Tech is Coming to Grocery Stores: If you haven’t yet shopped at an Amazon Go convenience store (Chicago, NY, San Fran, Seattle) featuring “Just Walk Out Technology,” you have to. It’s a bucket-list experience grabbing some snacks and walking out of the store, finding your Amazon account perfectly deducted for anything you picked up. And now the technology is being tested at a full-size Amazon Fresh grocery store in Seattle, using “a series of overhead cameras and pressure sensitive shelves to automatically detect what shoppers put in their carts.” Learn more here.

SOURCE: Instagram @paul_mcbeth

The Rise of the Social Media Sports Star: As TV audiences fragment across channels, platforms, and watching occasions, live sports still reign supreme as collective tune-in moments. But on social media, niche sports like disc golf, bowling, and archery are growing in popularity thanks to widespread sharing of pivotal moments on TikTok and Instagram. These athletes work hard not to become “one clip wonders” and are even netting significant sponsorship dollars.

Key quote: “Until television rights deals increase enough to start funding substantial salaries in niche sports, social media is the best way for these athletes to earn a living. Life-changing money is out there, but they do have to earn it.”

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!
Greg

Why are all the kids going Sheesh?!

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If you’ve been anywhere nearby a young person in the last month, you’ve probably heard them go, “Sheeeeeeeee(sh)!” faintly and perhaps just enough you heard it but maybe didn’t notice. Sheesh is the new dab. And you can’t unhear it.

Sheesh, or Sheeesh, is a popular slang term and an alternative to “jeez” or “damn,” used to express surprise or disbelief about something, often in a positive manner, and to hype up or compliment another person. The term has existed since the 1950s and saw a significant increase in use throughout the 2010s, popularized to a degree by NBA player LeBron James and drip culture, inspiring a popular sound on TikTok in early 2021. The expression is often combined with the Ice In My Veins pose. Know Your Meme

The current use of Sheesh is linked to this TikTok of a frog sitting on a table in January, and it’s been co-opted and remixed for the last 6 months as a reaction to someone’s unexpected and amazing accomplishment. Or maybe just a thing to say to be annoying, too. The hashtag #sheesh is now at 4.5B views.

When my kids started doing it earlier this year, I ignored it. Their friends were yelling “Sheesh” on X-Box Live and FaceTime calls, and I ignored it. They would Sheesh me sarcastically, and I paid enough attention to know they were making fun of me (“Hey kids, I painted the front door.” “Sheeesh!”). But then I started hearing strangers doing it in public (e.g., Target, Scheel’s, Mall of America), and I realized the meme had crossed over into IRL and was mainstream enough I could troll my kids back with it.

When I say kids are yelling Sheesh, that’s not really an adequately descriptive verb. It’s more of a crescendo where the “Sheee” comes out in falsetto and then trails off to the point you barely or don’t hear the “ssshhh” part at all. It’s not really yelling but it’s not really speaking at a normal volume either. This is why the meme is such an earworm. It’s subtle, so it sticks. Sheesh.

In social media, saying Sheesh is also accompanied by a gesture called “ice in my veins,” which I originally thought alluded to self-harm, but apparently, it’s a basketball-inspired pose about succeeding under pressure. Feel old yet?

It’s not immediately clear to me if this meme has co-opted Black culture, as so many others have before, but it’s clearly a six-month-old meme that is making its way into the broader culture enough it’s spreading to “the olds.” Much like the dab, Sheesh is a social-fueled trend that will peak, parents like me will do it to troll their kids, and then die a violent and embarrassing death. SHEESH!


Here are the social signals I’m tracking this week…

The Return of FOMO: We all predicted this feeling would return – the fear of missing out caused by your social network posting cool stuff they’re doing that you’re not. And thanks to vaccinations and things opening back up, it’s coming more quickly than many of us anticipated.

The Cut writes: “Remember plans? All across town, plans are once again abloom, plans polliniferous, begetting others, which beget others. The city is Rip Van Winkling into wobbly wakefulness… Ours will be a rickety reentry. Like Rip, we are unpracticed, we creak… But more than that, we are anxious — about being back and not being back.”

Back at work, folks are posting their “Return to Office Selfies” and stirring up all kinds of feelings there, tooTake it easy on the IRL reentry posts, folks! It’s a weird time.

Get off my lawn, Math!

Instagram’s Algorithm Explained: This week Instagram’s Adam Mosseri published a blog post hoping to shed light on some misconceptions about the algorithm. Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. Mosseri went into detail about how signals, the data that informs the algorithm for Feed, Stories, Reels, Explore, and how you can influence what you see: 1) Pick your close friends, 2) Mute people you’re not interested in; 3) Mark recommended posts as “Not Interested.” Read more detail about these and an explanation of shadowbanning here.

Bo Burnham’s Inside, as a photo I took of my iPad to get a screenshot

Bo Burnham’s Netflix Special is Quarantine Art: For those privileged enough to isolate and work from home the last year-plus, there’s a new comedy special on Netflix that is mandatory viewing to relive, process, hate, and maybe even celebrate the shared experience of a lonely lockdown. Burnham’s special was conceived, filmed, and produced entirely in one room by Bo Burnham during the lockdown. NPR called it “isolation theater,” and the double album soundtrack dropped this week.

Happy Birthday, Twitch! The live streaming platform turned 10 years old this week and as we look back at the rapid adoption of gaming culture into the broader mainstream of the last decade, it’s widely credited with helping establish and popularize the patronage system that is powering the Creator Economy of today. Twitch viewers watched 6.34 billion hours of content in Q1. To celebrate its anniversary, Twitch introduced Animated Emotes, Follower Emotes, and a Library for Emotes

Would you “Like” a Facebook watch? Facebook is rumored to be rolling out a smartwatch next year that will feature not one, but two cameras! Including one you can use to film yourself. And fitness tracking. And won’t require a phone for data. It would be the company’s first foray into wrist-based hardware. I’m going to need another whole arm for all this new tech.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/G5VV6Vb_KRQ?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

So Much Apple News: Apple’s annual WWDC event always has a wealth of software updates to share, but this year was particularly robust. Apple announced iOS 15, which will bring improvements to FaceTime such as spatial audio, a new “SharePlay” feature that lets you co-watch content, updates to Messages, a new look for notifications, the ability to set different “Focus” statuses, updates to Memories in Photos, and a redesign to the weather app. Apple’s new Live Text will digitize text in your photos, which can let you copy and paste text from a photo (e.g., call a phone number that’s in a photo) Apple Mail will block tracking pixels with Mail Privacy Protection and that Safari will hide IPs. Apple Health will be able to share health data with your families and with healthcare providers. Siri is coming to third-party IoT devices. You may soon be able to use your iPhone as your ID at the airport and for hotel keys. And much more. Watch the full event stream here and a 9-minute version here.

Reads of the Week: 1) Brazil’s hottest TikTok celebrities are … English teachers?; 2) How Viral Recipes Shut Out BIPOC Food Creators; 3) Peanut the Waiter Robot Is Proof That Your Job Is Safe.

Quick Hits:

  • Netflix’s Sweet Tooth made social waves with their USA Today takeover ad declaring “Hybrid Babies Born across the U.S.
  • Facebook released a thorough report on the future of mixed reality: AR/VR: New dimensions of connection.
  • TikTok launched a For Your Consideration campaign for the Emmy’s for Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical.
  • Twitter’s Super Follows application details are leaking.
  • Facebook says Former President Trump’s ban will last at least two years.  
  • Facebook and Kantar published a 4-part thought-leadership series focuses on exploring what’s next in shopper journey disruption based on Hong Kong and Taiwan audiences but that is relevant for all (Part 1234).
  • Apple’s Augmented Reality headset is rumored to launch in the second quarter of 2022. This is expected to be a development tool and stepping stone toward Apple Glasses.
  • App of the Week: Everyone on social is turning themselves into a cartoon with the Voilà AI Artist App.
  • Reddit of the Week: 1 good minute.
  • Web Tool of the Week: Find words and lines from popular movie clips with PlayPhrase.me.
  • Pride Month Easter Egg of the Week: Open a new Google Sheet, type out “P-R-I-D-E” in the first five columns, hit “Enter,” and your entire spreadsheet will turn into a rainbow.
  • Meme of the Week: The creative culture on TikTok is making “bumps” for Adult Swim. Here’s an explainer, and a few of my favorite examples.
  • Meme Accounts of the Week: For those fans of Daniel Craig celebrating the arrival of the weekend every Friday evening (@CraigWeekend), there’s now one for the Sunday night scaries (@CraigWeekBoo) and even a meme for the weekday itself. 2021 is weird, y’all.

See you on the internet!
Greg

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