Has Social Media Lost Its Thrilling Charm? [Content Made Simple]

Issue #201: A YouTuber thrives by making bad content, and a look at some revolutionary AI.


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Do you scroll mindlessly until you discover that nagging feeling of existential dread like a Leprechaunian pot of fool’s gold at the end of a digital rainbow?



I still remember the adrenaline rush I would feel in elementary school when a friend would log on to AOL Instant Messenger after school or when the MySpace inbox link lit up with a new message. I think anyone who has used social media in some capacity the last 20 years or so remembers some feeling of this kind. Perhaps your feeling is like mine and you remember the early days of the social internet. Maybe you remember getting a Facebook account in college before anyone else in the world was allowed to be on the platform. Most of us, probably, can pinpoint some time in which there was a mystique and a thrill that accompanied connecting with others on social media. There was a time when the social internet had a shine and we felt a sort of anticipation every time we logged on.


I think it’s becoming more and more clear that social media is more burdensome than fulfilling for many people. I feel this way, and I have a feeling many of you do as well.


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Link #1: YouTuber Becomes More Powerful By Making Terrible Content

I am a big fan of Dunkey. He makes some of the funniest video-game-related content on YouTube. Usually it’s making funny/satirical reviews of popular games or doing earnest deep dive reviews of classic games know for being very good or very bad. But he’s doing a sort of experiment right now on making “bad content” and his channel is doing far better than normal.

If you ask someone who makes quality video game content on YouTube, a few names are likely to pop up: NakeyJakey, Errant Signal, Mega64, and of course, my personal favorite monotone comedian, Dunkey. And yet, when compared to YouTube’s bigger gaming channels, like Markiplier or DanTDM, these beloved channels are much smaller, both in terms of audience and output.

I’m not trying to be mean here. This is all something that Dunkey has recently brought to the forefront of the conversation with a provocative upload titled “I’m Done Making Good Videos.” In the video, the YouTuber pulls back the content-creation curtain on his channel, and while much of it comes off as tongue-in-cheek, there’s a kernel of truth to everything he says. It’s one of the most candid and eye-opening things any YouTuber has made in 2020.

Link #2: Substack Is Building a Reader App

Newsletters are the past and they are the future. Substack is wisely building a dedicated app that, in my opinion, is long overdue.

“Something that we think about a lot is readers tell us, ‘Hey, I’m subscribed to six different Substacks now, and I want to read them all, and it sucks that they’re in my email inbox along with all my other stuff,’” Best added.

“‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one place where I could go and see all of these direct connections that I have, and that I’m paying for in many cases?’ That’s something that we’re keenly interested in.”

Link #3: Revolutionary AI Is Here…And It’s Equal Parts Terrifying and Exciting

I tend to ignore 99% of articles I come across related to AI because it just seems so far away and irrelevant, but this article really made it appear real and important.

Where GPT-3 really shines, though, is in its ability to take existing text and “complete” it. I sent GPT-3 the introduction to a recent article I wrote about read ratios on Medium:

A good Medium read ratio is generally between 20 and 50%.

It depends, though, on the length of your article and the audience you’re trying to engage. Very short articles (3 minutes or less) tend to have a higher read ratio, because it takes less time for a reader to complete the article.

Likewise, long articles tend to have lower read ratios — but not always.

It responded with a few follow-up sentences:

When your article reaches a certain length, readers are more likely to consider it as “content for later,” and bookmark it for a later time. The key is to make your articles valuable and interesting, so your readers want to read it later.

That’s actually totally true and an extremely valuable insight. If I find a long article on Medium, I’ll often read a few paragraphs and then bookmark it in my reading list to look at later.


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