How ’30-50 Feral Hogs’ Became the New ‘Thoughts and Prayers’

Thirty to 50 unkillable feral hogs may or may not be terrorizing one Arkansas man's backyard, but they've definitely infiltrated Twitter. They've invaded the lyrics of songs from "Do Re Mi" to "Milkshake." They've reminded people of their dating histories and of bizarre medieval paintings. They've inspired strange hypothetical chat rooms and porcine updates to classic pieces of writing. (My favorite: "For sale/30-50 feral hogs/Never shot.") The feral hogs, all 30 to 50 of them, are just the kind of meme Twitterati are wont to latch onto—one so absurd that it's hilarious, and so hilarious that you'll almost forget it's macabre as hell. Emma Grey Ellis Stop Meme-ing Taylor Swift Emma Grey Ellis The Meaning Behind the #UnwantedIvanka Meme Adam …

While You Were Offline: Trump Stood in Front of a Fake Presidential Seal

Welcome back, faithful reader. After a week off to handle Comic-Con International, While You Were Offline is back—and we have a lot to discuss. For one, President Trump's tweets are once again in the news, this time sparking discussion about whether or not they could be labeled racist. In other news, leaked text messages and subsequent protests forced the governor of Puerto Rico to resign, the Department of Justice reinstated the death penalty after 16 years, Europe hit record high temperatures, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg performed a mic-drop. https://twitter.com/Conservatives/status/1153622059207016448 Yes, former journalist and former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson was the winner. Indeed, Johnson won the race by a significant margin. https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1153629326811774976 May offered her congratulations on Twitter. https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/1153624236092735489 …

The Psychological Impact of Seeing YouTubers Spend Millions

Price tags have been clickbait for a long time. The last 10 years are littered with sticker-shock stories: Paris Hilton's $325,000 "dog villa," Nicolas Cage's $276,000 (stolen) dinosaur skull, Kim Kardashian's $23,000 diaper bag, every celebrity's multi-multimillion-dollar home. Implicit in most of those stories was not only covetousness but judgment: how wonderful, how out of touch. In the age of influencers, though, the judgment has all but disappeared. You celebrate and contribute to your fave's flexing, or you're a hater. Flexing, if you're unfamiliar, is flaunting your wealth. You may have encountered it in meme form: In early 2018, "weird flex but OK" was the only appropriate response to bizarre social media boasting. Sometimes the bragging methods were questionable, but …

Stop Meme-ing Taylor Swift

At this point, thinking sober thoughts about a new Taylor Swift song is painfully predictable. It's a here we go again exercise that think-piece writers and social media pundits have come to dread and celebrate in equal measure. Yet, no matter how formulaic the Swift responses are, the internet must be fed. Luckily for all involved, her latest single, "You Need to Calm Down," is irresistible hot-take fodder: It's been hailed as revolutionary, slammed as queerbait, praised as inclusive, and condemned as intolerant. The lyrics and music video nod to Swift's many celebrity feuds, but also include a GLAAD endorsement and a petition to ratify the Equality Act. There is homophobia, and also a food fight. It's a Tayfecta of …

While You Were Offline: Justin Bieber Wants to Fight Tom Cruise

It's been a week where everyone's favorite member of the Queer Eye Fab Five—sorry, Bobby—Jonathan Van Ness came out as being genderqueer, where Radiohead released outtakes from OK Computer to foil hackers, and a week where an ice wolf that died over 40 millennia ago was discovered, preserved, in the Siberian permafrost. And that's not all—President Trump also favorited a tweet about Rihanna for some mysterious reason. What else happened on the internet last week? While You Were Offline is here to catch you up. President Trump Got a Nice Letter from Kim Jong-Un What Happened: The romance between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un continued last week with a press conference in which everyone discussed a very special letter, one …

While You Were Offline: Trump Had a Very Long Week in the UK

Greetings, dear friends, and welcome to this week's installment of While You Were Offline. What did you miss on the interent last week? First, you might have missed Jared Kushner giving a pretty good demonstration of why he doesn't do many interviews. Joe Biden reversing course on bad ideas and apparently plagiarizing policy on climate change might have escaped your attention, too. No wonder more people are getting behind Elizabeth Warren, including, somewhat surreally, Fox News host Tucker Carlson. (Clearly, we're in the Upside Down.) Meanwhile, President Trump's attitude toward Mexico is reportedly making Mexico offer significant changes to asylum rules, even as Senate Republicans grumble about how bad Trump's tariffs will be for Americans. Elsewhere, Apple killed iTunes, and …

Why Women Are Called ‘Influencers’ and Men ‘Creators’

Being a "social media influencer" has nothing to do with the size of your audience or the nature of your work. An influencer used to be someone with a giant, million-plus following to sell things to, but marketers have since expanded the term, piling on prefixes like macro-, micro-, and even nano-influencers, who can have audiences of just 1,000. Influencers aren't confined to a genre anymore, either. There are still the standard-issue Instagram beauty and lifestyle influencers, but also restaurant influencers, real estate influencers, pet influencers. Really, the only way to guarantee that people will think of your online celebrity as "influence" is to be a woman. Emma Grey Ellis Optimization Smackdown: Hustle Porn vs. Zen Porn Emma Grey Ellis …

It’s the World Slime Convention! Let’s Goo!

What I like about slime is that it's about nothing. Instagram is filled with videos of the shapeless substance. They often begin with a glob of vibrant, wobbling slime on a white surface. Manicured hands soon enter the frame, stretch and pull the goo, then drizzle it back onto the table. The effect is inexplicably transfixing, soothing even, like a spinning mobile mesmerizing a baby. But after spending considerable time scrolling through these clips, I started to see something in the void: a squishy, candy-colored subculture, made up of millions of young, mostly female fans. They promote their creations, compliment each other in comments, participate in slime drama—and gather at slime conventions. Brian Finke So I showed up on a …

#YouKnowMe Is Hashtag Activism at Its Most Galvanizing

When you talk about abortion in America, someone’s bound to invoke the Shame Nun. She lines the streets outside Planned Parenthoods and floods outspoken women’s Twitter accounts with hate, but mostly she lives inside people’s heads, clanging her bell so long and loud that many women forget they’re not walking down unfriendly streets naked and alone. Still, it often feels that way, especially this week, after Alabama’s governor signed a near-total abortion ban. It leaves no exceptions for rape or incest and makes performing an abortion punishable by life in prison. In reality, one in four American women have an abortion before they turn 45. You are constantly in their company, and actress and activist Busy Phillips wants you to …

How the Videogame Aesthetic Flows Into All of Culture

When the science fiction film Edge of Tomorrow, directed by Doug Liman, came out in 2014, WIRED called it “the best videogame you can’t play.” The film’s main character, Bill Cage, repeats the same day again and again—a day of futuristic combat with aliens. Each time he dies, Cage wakes up again on the previous day. Everything is as before, with the crucial difference that he remembers all the previous versions of that fatal next day. The repetitions are the film’s equivalent of a videogame’s replayability, and Cage’s battle skills improve, just as a player’s skills improve through replay. But Cage is not a player. He is a character in a narrative film, so the repeated days are in fact …

The Internet Does Not Believe You’re Pregnant

In late February of the year 1456, an apprentice named John Helton was drawn, hanged, and quartered for spreading the claim that Edward of Westminster was not Queen Margaret’s son. Queen Margaret, the rumor went, had faked her pregnancy, so the 2-year-old posing as the Prince of Wales must be either a random nonroyal toddler or a changeling. More than half a millennium later, conspiracy theorists are still preoccupied with the wombs of royal women. Now, the supposed pretender to the pregnancy is Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. Anti-Markle internet sleuths, who call themselves #Megxiteers, have stared at pictures of the expecting duchess so long and hard that they’ve become convinced her baby bump is a prosthetic called a Moonbump—and …