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InternetOctober 16, 2022

Limelight: This month’s guide to what’s trending online


To help navigate what’s going on in the internet universe, we bring you Limelight — a new column brought to you by our friends at creative studio Daylight.

Ironic to say, but this month a major trend that’s been trending this month is trends. Something core this, something core that — fashion brands seem desperate to tap into the next heartbeat to help you figure out who you are, global brands are rushing to out-AI each other and Liz dying has made us all examine what’s worth believing in any more.

Here’s what’s been bending the internet this month:

Shroom boom

Very expensive t-shirts, mushy supplements, microdosing — fungi are really having their moment.

Why? A lot has been linked to the growing climate crisis and the somewhat profound qualities of fungal mycelium (root structures) found in mushrooms. Used as leather for a recent Stella McCartney line, DNA sequencing amid the pandemic and even making their way into treatment rooms of holistic practices to treat mental health, mushies have never seemed so… magic.


After years of being in and out of lockdowns and juggling all the places we work, the office has never been such a hot topic. 

Following the second season of Industry and the success of Succession, The New Yorker’s Carrie Batton wrote recently, “As the office appears less appealing in real life, on television it’s the most exhilarating place to be.”

The hot, high-stress-yet-monotonous environments we came to miss throughout the pandemic; the wave of #worktok content (some companies are even trialling a TikTok resume); and the Great Resignation — TV shows feel like they’re revelling in the corporate world.

World wide, what the heck is going on now

If you haven’t kept up with the web3 NFT world, no one blames you. Outside of DAOs and Discord threads, it can seem like life’s a Sims game and we’re all just… living in it.

This normies guide to what the hell this world is all about is a useful place to start, but if you’re a bit further along the Non Fungible (did anyone ever use this word before 2022?) Token line, you might be noticing how it’s spreading everywhere and brands and tech companies alike are in a fist fight to all change the world at once.

Musicians are turning fans into community managers through their Discord channel, bands are embedding NFTs into music videos and offering exclusive access through them, Gucci’s got an NFT art gallery, and you can now buy NFT couture online that no one can ever wear, just look at. Which, in a surprise turn, is kind of what it was made for anyway? The space is moving fast and imperfectly, and the jury’s still out on whether Gen Z will fully jump on this train. 

Stop trying to be everything to everyone, already

Think about what you search on Google. Is it ever “coffee” or is it “best coffee near me”? Is it ever “cupcakes” or is it “best gluten-free vegan cupcake recipe nz”? The same applies to the kind of content more and more people want to listen to. What might have been a baking podcast a couple of years ago is now a bread-making podcast with episodes featuring specialists on sourdough, locally harvested spelt flour and organic herbs.

This marks a shift from numbers (big reach, mass marketing) to specific content based on a high level of interest. People and brands are wanting to make things people love deeply rather than like generically, which mirrors the age-old writing hack: the more specific you go, the more universal you become.

Bury monoculture with the Queen

(Image: Archie Banal)

This is all about the way that algorithms and smartphones have allowed us to create our own cultural reality: beautiful, fun holiday reels and videos of our kids growing up, lol antics we get up to in our outside hours, all reflected back at us. We love it because these worlds are uniquely ours, and there are almost no Big Universal Moments which we all gaze upon and have feelings about.

The Queen dying felt like the end of the monoculture. She was the most monocultural person in the world (growing up, you had no choice but to know things about the royals) and monoculture people absolutely lost the plot over the Queen dying. Traditional media went wild – RNZ’s Morning Report literally had nothing but coverage of the Queen’s funeral the day after. Three hours!!!! Nothing else!!!! Whereas most people under 35 find all this completely incomprehensible.

This may have been the most defining moment between generations.

Sober curious

Have you noticed how many bougie non-alcoholic drinks are around? That famous study showing that Gen Z is drinking less and the 33% rise in alcohol-free spirits alone in America in the last year (and over 500% since 2015) reflect the rise of a whole new industry of chic brands that keep you sober. 

Widely described as being “sober curious”, there’s a whole wave of charcoal filtered, crystal-infused, berries-that-give-you-brain-power drinks hitting the market.

It represents a growing curiosity of a Sunday without a hangover, a drinks without drunks, and a heightened awareness of what’s actually making us feel good. Think the raucous TV show Skins, which came out in 2007 versus the revelatory and comparatively earnest Sex Education in 2019

Break up better

With divorce rates surging around the world, furniture designers are thinking ahead in case disaster strikes.

FC Home & Co has recently launched furniture that can easily break apart if your relationship does. A bit of a bleak manifestation of, well, bleak divorce stats (they rose 35% in Argentina post-pandemic) and a wild notion to think you’re buying this stuff pre-emptively in what is supposedly one of the cutest big steps a relationship can take. But maybe, after an apocalypse-like stretch of years, pragmatism really has its place. 

Stable diffusion

Artificial Intelligence for design is on a wave that just keeps going. From DALL-E taking the internet and graphic designers by storm to the likes of this project building out scenes of famous classical paintings comes “stable diffusion.

It’s an AI Photoshop plug-in designed to give software in this space a run for its money, building out the world of what’s possible for text-prompted images. Enter a word, an aesthetic, a light quality, an art movement, and in seconds you can have a light-drenched CAD-style drawing of a modern kitchen with plant life and art on the walls. This software is causing massive debate among artists, and for good reason.

Examining the internet day in, day out, a humble plebian does start to wonder… who is using the internet the best? In an interview recently on the Embedded newsletter, writer-professor Rayiwa Kameir answered the question perfectly: “It is my sincerest belief that Drake uses the social web the way it’s supposed to be used: nonstop shenanigans and tomfoolery, very little performing of superior intelligence or morality.”

Something to aspire to ’til we meet again.

Keep going!