This week, young people are partying like it’s 1999: buying dumb-phones, spending cold hard cash, and listening to Afroman novelty raps. On the more serious side of things, the internet is creeping on actor Pedro Pascal, amplifying unfounded rumors, and dealing with the hidden challenges of having a sibling with a disability.
The internet is getting really weird about Pedro Pascal
This week, our new best pals at Mashable examined the increasingly creepy parasocial relationship between the online world and its new “daddy,” Pedro Pascal, star of The Last of Us and The Mandalorian. The question: Has the internet gone too far this time? The answer: Yes, of course. The internet has always gone too far. But this time it’s really too far. The millions of thirst tweets are creepy. This widely shared deep-fake video of Pascal saying “I am your cool, slutty daddy” is even creepier. But maybe creepiest of all is this clip of Entertainment Tonight asking Pascal to read “thirst tweets” about himself on the red carpet. Awkward doesn’t do it justice.
So what’s going on here? A lot. it’s a cultural collision touching on issues of gender, fandom, celebrity, sexuality, the eternal September of online life, and way more. Check out this excellent discussion in which Chase DiBenedetto and Elena Cavender chop it all up like a pop cultural food processor.
Don’t freak out about April 24, which is not “National Rape Day”
If a younger person in your life is getting anxious about April 24 looming, reassure them that, no, it’s not “national rape day.” According to the rumor that has spread every year around this time since 2021, April 24 is “The National Day of Sexual Assault,” the day upon which shadowy men plan on committing any number of felonies. Where did this idea originate? Supposedly, six men started spreading videos promoting the day in 2021, then others jumped on the trend, encouraging each other and spreading tips. Except there is no trace of any of those videos online, nor any evidence they ever existed. I can’t find any evidence of anyone actually supporting the day, with the exception of a screenshot of a since-deleted entry on Urban Dictionary posted in 2019.
There are, however, lots of videos warning people about the date and decrying the very bad people behind it. The makers of these videos mean well, but are spreading misinformation and fear. Sexual assault is a horrible problem that everyone should be aware of and work to prevent, but it’s not any worse or more common on April 24. (For what it’s worth, April 24 is actually National Pigs in a Blanket Day.)
What is “glass child syndrome?”
A growing community on TikTok is discussing “glass child syndrome,” a description of the siblings of children with with disabilities who feel their parents “saw through them” throughout their childhoods. The term was coined in 2010 by Alicia Arena, and it describes an often overlooked demographic. Glass children are often expected to be caretakers for their siblings. Their problems are often minimized, and their entire family’s lives often revolve around the needs of their siblings.
According to Arena, “glass children take on these caretaker responsibilities and naturally we are conditioned not to have any problems. We are supposed to be perfect. When someone asked us how we were doing, the answer was always: I’m doing fine.” This is a case of technology having made it easy for people who once suffered alone to find each other and offer understanding and support, so maybe we shouldn’t ban TikTok?
The return of dumb phones and hard cash
Younger people are rediscovering a couple of old-school classics lately: Dumb phones and cash money. Gen Z influencers are touting old school flip-phones as a way of controlling screen time and companies like Punkt and Light are serving up bespoke versions of the product (dubbed “minimal phones”), and kids are starting to take the bait. A little. There hasn’t been a huge spike in dumb phone adoption, but maybe it’s the beginning of an encouraging trend.
Money, in the form of pieces of paper you can trade for goods and services, is also making a comeback among young people. The hashtag #cashstuffing details the very old-school budgeting strategy of putting cash in envelopes marked “rent,” “food,” or “illegal drugs.” It’s perfect for a time of inflation: it keeps you from overspending, makes you more aware of what you have left, and prevents you from dipping into your credit. On the negative side: it isn’t secure, takes time, and offers no interest or other return. But for young people who often don’t have much money anyway and probably didn’t learn basic home finance in school, it’s definitely a net-positive.
Viral videos of the week: Afroman’s unexpected comeback
Rapper Afroman, creator of early-aughts novelty hit “Because I Got High,” is going viral this week, introducing a new generation to his unique talents and vibe. Videos for two of Afroman’s songs are spreading quickly because he’s being sued by the police. Last August, the sheriffs department in Afroman’s Ohio county searched his place looking for narcotics and a kidnapping victim. They found neither, but they left Afroman a huge gift: incredible footage of armed men casually rummaging through his things and finding nothing but a lemon cake baked by Afroman’s mom. Afroman used the footage in a couple of videos a few month ago, but not many people noticed. Until this week, when members of the Adams County Sheriff’s department filed a lawsuit against the rapper. They say they suffered “humiliation, ridicule, mental distress, embarrassment and loss of reputation.” Oh no.
Anyway, the videos are hilarious and hundreds of thousands of people would be unaware of them if it wasn’t for the excellent promotion the Sheriff’s Department provided. In “Will you Help Repair my Door?” Afroman asks a series of reasonable questions to the police, and in “Lemon Pound Cake,” one cop’s hungry reaction to a delicious treat is scrutinized.