Hey, look, we made it into Tumblr’s Year in Review roundup of the top tumblr posts of 2013! We’re not entirely sure of how the top posts were chosen (we’re guessing that this list excludes all the artsy porno that makes checking the dashboard such an exciting gamble), but we couldn’t be happier to be on the list.
Click here and here to see the VICE posts featured in the Year in Review.
And if for some reason you’re not following already VICE on tumblr, click here to do so!
Phones Are Better Than People
You’ve likely already seen I Forgot My Phone, the short film by Charlene deGuzman that dramatizes our dependence on smartphones. It’s pulled in almost 20 million views and counting thanks to that magic social-media formula of saying something everyone pretty much agrees with: we’re all hopelessly and pathetically addicted to our devices, which makes us tragically unaware of the fragile beauty of real-life moments passing us by on gossamer butterfly wings of authenticity.
The message at the heart of the film is yet another argument that technology erodes our genuine relationships and makes us stupider and less empathetic. You’ve likely heard a variation of this before—cell phones, or the internet, or computers, or television, are making things worse. As usual, it’s wrong.
Granted, smartphone abuse is a real thing—according to one study, 72 percent of Americans said they’re within five feet of their mobile devices at all times, and 9 percent said they used their phone during sex. In another survey, 51 percent of UK residents said they experience “extreme tech anxiety” when they’re separated from their phones. And common activities like texting or using social media trigger our brains’ dopamine and opioid receptors in much the same way narcotics do, meaning you can really be “addicted” to Facebook. But while it’s certainly reasonable to argue that we should draw the line somewhere—tweeting while driving is clearly dangerous, for instance—it’s not clear where that line should be.
Consider some familiar scenarios, some of which crop up in deGuzman’s film: you’re at a concert, or a restaurant, or a sporting event, and you take your phone out to take a photo or a video or send out a Tweet or Facebook status. OH NO YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON THE WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE OF BEING WITH OTHER HUMANS!
Yeah, right—have you met most people? They’re boring as shit. More likely, you are avoiding an awkward or boring conversation by checking your phone, or you’re communicating with those you’d actually like to talk to. Before smartphones, people dealt with these situations by drinking too much, pretending to be interested in someone, or just staring at the clock until the party was over. We’re not missing much if we duck into our phones instead.
What’s It Like to Be Tumblr Famous?
“How do you know if someone is kind of flirting with u thru Tumblr?” read an email forwarded to me by my friend group’s resident internet expert, about an acquaintance I’ll call “Heather.” Shortly thereafter Heather herself messaged me with a slew of questions so twee, we vow to share them only with each other and invisible audiences online.
Her email elaborated, “I have been rapidfire trading likes all day since I reblogged him on my Tumblr and now he’s following me.” I pause, my fingers poised over my keyboard, then respond, “so hip so dumb” and reassure her that “he prbly wants yr bod.” Hers is a problem meant to be as self-effacing as it is flattering: Hey, we’re 23.
When you’re 23 and you’re online, you speak in other people’s voices. Heather’s coquettishness on Gchat and Tumblr is a parody of girlishness, amplified through feigned ignorance (“kind of flirting”) and corrupted through artful typos, ploce, and paroxysms of lucidity.
Itty-Bitty Kitty, Giant Spirit – Lil Bub Gets Her Soul Examined by a Powerful Pet Psychic, with Photos by Terry Richardson
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you probably already know all about Lil Bub. The tiny, adorable cat—who is a “perma-kitten” thanks to several genetic abnormalities—has captured the hearts of millions through her photos and videos, which have spread across the web like a communicable disease of cuteness. She’s (yes, Bub is a little lady) also made appearances on TV shows like Good Morning America and The View and held meet and greets all over the country with her fans.
VICE has been following this superlatively cute cat around for some time, and we’re gearing up to release Lil Bub & Friendz, a feature-length documentary that records the travels and trials of Bub and her loyal owner, Mike Bridavsky, who has cared for her through her many health problems. (Mike donates much of the money he makes from her fame to animal-rescue charities.)
Lil Bub & Friendz won this year’s Tribeca Online Festival Best Feature Film Award and will premiere to the world at large later this summer. To prepare for the next stage of Bub’s celebrity catdom, Mike contacted Christine Agro, pet psychic to the stars, to peer inside Bub’s celestial being via Skype and give the pair some advice.
Christine Agro: Could you say your full name three times please?
Mike Bridavsky: Michael Gregory Bridavsky, Michael Gregory Bridavsky, Michael Gregory Bridavsky.
And what would you like to receive from this reading?
Whatever there is to be received; if there’s anything I need to know about Bub or the adventure we’re on.
Is Bitcoin Just Conceptual Art?
From calculating its value in ten years to figuring out what constitutes its “soul”, everyone and their accountant has something to say about Bitcoin these days. And so do I: Bitcoin is the greatest work of conceptual art of the 21st century. Which is not to say I think it’s a joke—in fact, I find the economic experiment extremely exciting—but rather, I think it shares many of the tenets inherent to conceptual masterpieces like Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning Drawing, or Nam June Paik’s Fin de Siecle II, or even Yoko Ono’s Fluxus performances.
I feel like dudes who are into Bitcoin wear way too many pairs of cargo shorts to be conceptual artists, but this is still interesting to consider.
It’s too big to load on tumblr/we can’t really figure it out, but you can view it here (and also read an excerpt).