The New Normal News Cycle

The news doesn't move the needle like it used to, Kill "Instagram Youth" with fire, US households pessimistic despite healthy finances

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A few knuckleballs to keep you on your toes.

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The new normal news cycle just doesn’t move the needle like it used to. This is strange because the news cycle has never been more outrageous.

It’s probably because we’re desensitized to what used to be considered outrageous news by the sheer volume of it now.

Take this introduction below for example. This is from a market newsletter I get in my inbox every morning:

In any other era, the first sentence — the highlighted one about an entire country purchasing a cryptocurrency after it suffered a massive drop in price — would have probably qualified as “the weird move of the day”.

But on that particular day, the CEO of a poorly managed movie theatre chain turned meme-stock happened to ask his Twitter followers if said theatre chain should begin accepting payment in the form of a different, even more ridiculous cryptocurrency than the one being purchased by that entire country.

So that was given “the weird move of the day” title.

Speaking of weird moves, I bet you didn’t hear about this one last week:

Look, I’m no stranger to nicotine. I played baseball for most of my life, and I picked up tobacco in my high school and college days. A habit I didn’t drop until just a few years ago.

I dropped the tobacco, I mean. The nicotine I have not yet managed to shake. Eventually…

So, I know what it’s like to get a craving that only a certain chiral alkaloid can satiate. But this?

What the f*ck?

They better be careful, or they could end up worse than the kid who got a USB cable stuck up his dickhole and then had the X-ray of the entanglement make the Internet rounds:

TL;DR: We started with ‘we’re desensitized to the news’ and ended with cautionary tales about sticking things in places you shouldn’t stick things. That is what people in the biz call “range”.

#TECH

Facebook has been working on Instagram Youth (i.e., Instagram for kids). The project was just put on hold and the next step should be to kill it with fire.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that social media is the root cause of a lot of anxiety and depression, especially among teens.

To be sure, the Wall Street Journal published a report detailing just how bad the Instagram effect really is on them (girls in particular).

This report was just one section of a 5-part investigation on Facebook conducted by the WSJ and released earlier this month.

The investigation highlighted a handful of problems at the megacompany, all of which are troubling, but this Instagram one, specifically, bothered me the most.

Especially after recently learning about Facebook’s “Instagram Youth” project. Yes, it’s exactly what you think — Instagram for kids.

The project has received a shit ton of criticism from just about anybody with a pulse and half a brain (rightfully so). This week the backlash finally had its desired effect (sort of):

That’s a good start. Now it needs to be taken behind the shed and put down immediately.

It’s just my personal opinion but I don’t think a “safe” Instagram for kids is possible, and even if it is, Facebook is the last company on the planet that would develop it.

Not when 40% of Instagram’s users are 22 years old and younger. And not when teens spend 50% more time on Instagram than they do Facebook.

The kids represent future revenues. And what, Facebook is going to prioritize safety over revenues? Right, because they have an excellent track record of that…

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Facebook does manage to create what is considered a “safe” Instagram Youth.

Even if this impossibly safe platform is developed, all it would do is create a generation of kids who will idolize the real Instagram (which they’ll be granted access to once they reach some arbitrarily determined age).

Then once they reach this long-forbidden fruit, the negative effects highlighted in the WSJ’s report will be amplified.

Like a teenager raised in a strict tee-totaling household who goes off to college expectantly, only to have the reality of parties and booze knock them into the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

How could they not when they’ve been told for years to stay at the metaphorical kid’s table? That they’re only allowed to be exposed to the real toxic narcissism once they’ve crossed some temporal line?

I don’t have the answer, but I know Instagram Youth ain’t it!

TL;DR: Instagram Youth is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard and it should be killed with fire ASAP.

P.S I cannot recommend this move enough:

#ECONOMY

The average US household’s finances have never been better, but their outlook on the future is pessimistic, at best.

In Q1 of 2021, US households held $17.4T (with a ‘t’) in savings accounts (up 28% from 15 months ago). Of that holy-shit-that’s-a-lot-of-zeroes amount, approximately $2.7T are excess savings.

If households were companies with balance sheets, they’d be looking pretty damn good:

The fact that they have the lowest financial obligations to disposable income ratio in decades means they’ve got big spending plans for the year ahead:

You would think, given this data, that households would be “feeling themselves” right now, as the kids say.

In a sense they are, considering they have no plans of slowing down their consumption.

But if you asked for their outlook on the future, they would have a different response altogether:

So why the disconnect?

I’m not an expert on anything, but my best guess is a combination of inflation and COVID-related fears (but mostly inflation).

Even so, those income and personal finance expectations seem overly cynical to me.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR: US households are doing fine on paper (financially), but they’re worried about the future (even though they’re not acting like it).

P.S. This reminds me of a saying my mom always said (to me, usually):

“Vas pa’l cielo y vas llorando.”

Translation: you’re going to heaven and you’re crying.


Thanks for reading!

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