The Relevancy Read

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Hot takes, early calls and astute observations, carefully curated.

A Sampling
A Sampling

Spooky technology and record Skims sales.

October 31, 2023

I see dead people….in the metaverse.

Happy Halloween! The ghosts of the future are here. When Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Meta’s next-generation VR and AI products, he noted the platform could be used to create virtual avatars of deceased loved ones. While the idea seems a bit creepy and crazy, Chinese burial company Fu Shou Yuan is already bringing it to fruition with holographic projections of the departed that can chat with funeral attendees. At the Illinois Holocaust Museum, visitors can interact with holograms of virtual Holocaust survivors. Moving forward, expect the metaverse to make horror, conspiracy, and spooky narratives feel more real and bring the supernatural into our increasingly unnatural world.

Lessons from the Skims Men’s launch.

Last week Kim Kardashian entered the menswear market, and it was the biggest day for Skims salesto date. Yesterday they became the official underwear brand of the NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball. How'd a women’s shapewear brand make out so well with men? She tapped three high-profile sports studs. The playful video reminiscent of a 90’s advertisement exemplifies the forgotten art of classic marketing—we were immediately reminded of Wheaties’ box athletes. Leaning into the power of creative celebrity endorsements, the campaign stands out in a sea of data-driven targeting and influencer ads. Further, the men’s category entry wisely spots a growing market in male self-care. As men warm up to health and beauty rituals and indulge in quality products across industries, this opportunity is not to be missed. Class dismissed!

What’s next for a bland, bitter, and boring internet?

Lately we’ve been thinking about how the internet got so bad and where we go from here. Natalya Toryanski’s parody videos mock the “bland influencer cadence” of every lifestyle content creator—the unoriginal outfits, coffee orders, and banal life decisions that flattened pop-culture and made the internet less interesting. She reminded us of a New York Times Magazine piece asking Why Culture Has Come to a Standstill. Their answer? The internet created endless production, but choked meaningful change as a function of time, leaving culture stuck on a Ferris wheel of remakes. Online communication networks don't feel productive or progressive either, where algorithms prioritize polarization and peacocking over true peer-to-peer connection. This is all pretty dismal, but we found optimism in Deb Roy’s work at MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication, which focuses on small, community-scale networks that foster learning, listening, mediation, and decision-making. As the fate of social media giants comes into question amid mental health and misinformation crises, we’re hopeful that technology and culture will find a human face, an original POV, and finally move forward.

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