The Internet Takes Some Time Off

Last week, I saw more posts than I could count citing a study that claims Aug. 24 is the day of the year when the most people call out of work sick (or “sick”).

For what it is worth, I have not thoroughly vetted this study. It was conducted by an employee tracking company that offered few details about the scope of its findings, and it’s the sort of too-slick data point that makes me a little wary. But, hey, anecdotally, I believe it. It’s the last gasp of summer. Maybe your office is extra quiet. Maybe your city’s energy feels a little lazier than usual. Maybe it’s just you.

There is a pet theory I’ve long held about the internet. I will disclose upfront that it has absolutely zero scientific merit. The only peer review it has received is me telling my actual peers about it. You are now all my friends.

My theory is that the summer makes for a boring internet. It’s the worst time of year to be online. My feeds of late have felt like they have digital tumbleweeds rolling by.

Which isn’t to say this week hasn’t had its moments. Below, you can read about how former President Donald Trump’s mug shot rapidly became a meme — which, if you know anything at all about the internet, you saw coming from a mile away.

I’ve also recently become obsessed with DJ Mandy, the best/worst D.J. on the internet. Insider called her mash-ups “intentionally gawky.” To even call them mash-ups is an insult to the art of mash-ups. Whatever they are, they’re great. They hurt and satisfy my brain in equal measure.

There’s also this piece from 404 Media about how Amazon is riddled with AI-generated mushroom foraging books that could get somebody killed. It has me terrified in new and fun(gi) ways. (Sorry, sorry.)

Even my TikTok likes of late are sleepy. A recipe for potato salad. Tips for how to transfer my credit cards points to an airline rewards program. A video from a stylist who helps people determine what colors look best on them. Yawn!

Looking through my likes I realized I’d unintentionally been watching a lot of “Call the Midwife,” a years-old TV show I’m now digesting in short clips from accounts devoted to bootlegging TV shows and movies. The show is heart-wrenching, but not exactly the weird and hyperspecific content I want from TikTok.

Anyway, see you all online next week. Here’s hoping we all get over our late summer malaise.

Internet Candy

Here’s what else is happening online this week.

Meet the influencer taking over men’s tennis.

The folding chair used in the Alabama riverfront brawl became a meme — and then a symbol of resistance.

What’s going on with dissociative identity disorder TikTok? (The Verge)

Rizz alert. (Wall Street Journal)

A new Illinois law requires the parents of underage social media influencers to set aside their earnings. (ABC News)

Don’t forget to enjoy the view. (TikTok)

Mugging for TikTok

It has been hard to miss Trump’s mug shot in the past week, that scowling, off-center photo that my colleague Vanessa Friedman described as “a historic image that will be seared into the public record and referred to in perpetuity.” Online, the mug shot is everywhere: It has been memed, yassified and de-aged.

Lately, a truly weird filter has taken off on TikTok that allows people to insert their own facial features into the mug shot. Here’s an example that has more than two million views. People who are fans and opponents of Trump alike are posting videos of in which their faces softly melt into the outline of the mug shot, often with the song “Locked Up” by Akon in the background.

Apparently it’s not enough to repost or even slap a new caption on a viral image anymore. To compete in today’s meme ecosystem, you have to put yourself in the middle of the action.

Callie Holtermann

Madison Malone Kircher is a reporter for The Times. She writes about the internet for the Styles desk. More about Madison Malone Kircher

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