TL;DR 

2023 book trends; “Singles Inferno” S2, boygenius EP drop, Oklahoma taking over Twitter, Bojangles hard sweet tea, and hopecore 😊 

Trending 

Young people’s book tastes tend to follow a yearly trend — 2020 was the era of renewing our love of fantasy, 2021 the nearly-smut easy reading, 2022 white women versus the void. A month into 2023, it seems we’re trending toward classics that reflect on the human experience. The #23in23 challenge, where readers choose 23 books they’re committing to reading in 2023, is overflowing with this genre. From “The Idiot” to “Go Tell it on the Mountain” to “Norwegian Wood,” Gen Z is taking nostalgia and corecore to a literary level. Beyond this genre, young people have grown to appreciate the enjoyment of reading at our 2014-fantasy-era levels. The account @coolgirlsreadingbooks highlights “cool girls” and their book choices. The Celebrity Memoir Book Club podcast has 311.2 thousand followers due to their biting humor on nepo babies, celebrity goss, and out-of-touch stars. The podcast is even hosting a 6-location tour later this year! There are book clubs about Pheobe Bridges, sad twenty-somethings, and eclectic Black authors. So grab a cup of tea, a celebrity book rec, and get into the literary vibe! 

Are you team Jong-woo or team Jin-young? The second season of “Singles Inferno” finished releasing on January 10, and the internet has been all over this show. “Singles Inferno,” a Korean dating show, follows 12 singles on “Inferno,” an abandoned island near Incheon, who aim to find love. Individuals compete to win a trip to “Paradise,” a hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant and pool known for steamy scenes. The series is ripe with rivalries, unrequited love, and displays of affection. Fans have swooned over a certain Ivy League student, cheered on couples, and related to those left alone in the final episode. On Twitter, @bcd776 complained, “I hate when the contestants on singles inferno all pick the obvious choice,” alluding to the one guy and girl everyone seems to adore (wink wink). Since the show aired, fans have been stalking the cast’s social media to see who’s official (so far, one has confirmed). My personal favorites? The Jurassic Park couple — if you know, you know. 

boygenius has Gen Z in a chokehold! The group consists of three of young people’s favorite artists — Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker. Their first EP was in 2018, with a hiatus on releases until an announcement and EP drop on January 18. The group is also planning to perform at Coachella in late April. The comments are typical hype Gen Z energy: “big day for doc marten wearers and oat milk latte drinkers,” “BYE I JUST PASSED AWAY,” “ok i guess i’ll stay alive this year,” “this is like the second coming of jesus.” boygenius was formed when the three women decided to combat the pitting together of women in rock and music in general. Each artist has captivated Gen Z in their own way — Bridgers has trended on TikTok over and over again and built a crew of “Pharbs,” Dacus grew a fanbase from “Night Shift” and has become a face of the indie generation, and Baker draws young people in through expert songwriting and thirsty pictures. Their TikTok with Rolling Stone, where they quip they’ve all eaten dog food, received 143.9 thousand likes. We’ll just have to play $20 on repeat until March 31st. 

The newest iconic brand account on Twitter is a little … wild 😉 Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife is giving us the Gen Z nature content we needed, from Prince Harry jokes to “Abbott Elementary as wildlife” posts. Their account currently has 153.2 thousand followers due to their witty Tweets about leucistic bald eagles, whitetail deer acting like Kardashians, and fish sandals. An iconic January 2022 “danger kitty” post that receieved 124.9 thousand likes sent thousands of accounts to a previously niche wildlife page. The OK Department of Wildlife page is proof that you don’t need to be well-known to build a dedicated social media following. Because, “believe it or not, [they] are an actual government agency.” 

College students around the US are bugging right now! For what? Only Bojangles newest creation, hard sweet tea. The Southern restaurant teamed up with North Carolina-based Appalachian Mountain Brewery to create the drink. Bojangles plans to launch hard sweet tea in March in the Carolinas and expand nationwide throughout 2023. @risa.bolash tagged Bojangles in a collection of messages friends sent her about the news, noting “the extreme level to which [she’s their] target audience.” UNC Chicks captioned a photo of the sweet tea with, “This changes everything.” For (predominantly Southeast) university students, Bojangles is an iconic hangover staple; now, they can have a Bo’s Chicken Sandwich during the AM and a hard sweet tea in the PM. @j_nejman11 is calling this “singlehandedly … the greatest food invention to ever hit the southern states of America.” Bojangles is on track to switch up the tailgate energy! 

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✨ Finn Wolfhard and yally’s “Party Party” — what could be better? This trend takes a video of Wolfhard walking and snapping to transition between two different things. Check out examples by TrapStix Lip Balm and NFL on FOX

✨ “They’re bombs …” This TikTok sound clarifies everything from Pink Drinks’ caffeine levels to how long you want to date for. Young people have brought light to protective hairstyles, test-taking methods, and masculine lesbians, all to a Spongebob audio. 

✨ What has Kim Kardashian bought now? This Twitter trend parodies news headlines by quoting, “BREAKING: Kim Kardashian has purchased _ for $_, TMZ reports.” According to Tweets, she’s purchased “the Lizzie McGuire Movie igloo dress,” “Louis Tomlinson’s iconic suspenders,” and “Obama’s Tan Suit.” Make your company the next joke purchase! 

Screenshot of the Week 

Dubbed “the most inspirational edit of all time,” this screenshot is a frame of @yrwkasi’s “hopecore” edit. Hopecore is a subset of the corecore and nichecore movements on TikTok that aims to emphasize the indomitable human spirit. Videos include snippets of “The Lego Movie,” nature, awards shows, and “Birdman.” With a social media algorithm that thrives on negative emotions, and users that easily get sucked into doomscrolling and nihilism, hopecore is a positive change. Sophie Lou Wilson noted that her friends “used to send each other depression memes and now [they] send each other hopecore tiktoks.” The world is full of beauty, and hopecore helps to remind Gen Z of this fact. 

 Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! MLK Jr. Day is celebrated across the US on the third Monday of January to honor the civil rights activist’s contributions to society. While many companies and figures post for the holiday, young people online critique this acknowledgment when it goes no further than a post. Public Citizen Tweeted, “Any elected official that blocked voting rights legislation should keep their MLK Jr. Tweets in the drafts.” The replies to Tweeted quotes by Kevin McCarthy and Kayleigh McEnany are laughable. King’s daughter, Bernice King, posted a Clippit asking, “It looks like you’ve quoted Martin Luther King Jr. out of context instead of engaging with the complex reality of white supremacy in America. Would you like some help with that?” The overarching message here? If you are going to post a King quote, do the work beyond one day. 

2022 was the year of the union! In Fiscal Year 2022, election petitions increased by 53% from FY2021 — with over 2,500 filed with the National Labor Relations Board. One hub for this development was universities. Workers from both the graduate school and campus facilities have joined together to fight for higher pay, more benefits, and appreciation from colleges. United Campus Workers, a southern-based organization, has chapters at universities in Arizona, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The Higher Labor United campaign currently has over 556,000 workers and 300,000 students on board to call for the College for All Act, regulation to “stabilize higher education employment,” “categoriz[ation of] student workers as campus employees,” and more. Recently, Yale University, the University of North Carolina system, Duke University, Rice University, and the University of Buffalo announced substantial spikes to the salaries of graduate and facilities workers. The Twitter account Dripped Out Trade Unionists captured a Yale University graduate worker celebrating a 91% union win. 2022 may have been the year of the union but, with how 2023 is starting, it looks like the momentum for labor organizing can only increase. 

As per usual, the Golden Globes were … an event. After the 2021 Los Angeles Times exposé calling its hosts the Hollywood Foreign Press Association out for corruption, racism, sexual harassment, and exorbitantly high salaries, the HFPA and Golden Globes have struggled to regain footing. Studios and actors both boycotted the awards, with NBC taking a one-year hiatus from airing the ceremony. Since the LA Times article, the Golden Globes have added 103 international journalists representing 63 countries to their voting body (increasing their female representation to 52% and their racial/ethnic diversity to 51.8%). At the awards, many winners, as well as the host Jerrod Carmichael, addressed the criticism. Carmichael pointed out his role as the first Black host in the Golden Globe’s history, quoting, “I’m here ‘cause I’m Black. … [HFPA] didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died.” He also disclosed that he was paid $500,000 to host that night from the steps of the stage. @justina.sharp joked she was “making note of everyone in hollywood who didn’t laugh at jerrod carmichaels opening monologue at the golden globes — and everyone who did.” Later during the show, Michelle Yeoh marveled at the 40 years of acting that have lead her to win a Golden Globe award. She pointed out the trio of experiences of being older, female, and Asian in the film industry, and thanked “the shoulders that [she stands] on, all who came before [her] who look like” her. The internet fell in love with Yeoh and Andrew Garfield’s interaction earlier that night. Now, we’ll get to see how well the HFPA and Golden Globes stick to their promise after 2023’s awards end. 

Over the past year, climate protests featured in mainstream media have become more unorthodox. From the infamous tomato-soup-and-“Sunflowers” demonstration to the cake-and-“Mona-Lisa” incident, activists have been met with increasing scrutiny by the general public. In light of this, Extinction Rebellion UK — a group notorious for eye-catching disruptive demonstrations — has “quit” their tactics of arrestable public disruption. While the international movement is planning to “go bigger and louder than ever before,” the UK chapter will temporarily shift towards relationships with decision makers. YouGov polling showing a high dislike of Extinction Rebellion (currently, 32% to 21%) has motivated many chapters to reassess their practices. This change was also motivated by the proposed “Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act,” which allows officers to more easily restrict protests. On social media, many young people have made trouble for polluters, from Regan Jayne’s “Random Acts of Climate” to providing easy pro-climate actions. One thing about Gen Z: we’ll always show up for what’s important to us. 

Emory University is showing up for their words. In December of 2022, they announced they would support faculty research projects that eradicate inequality. Grants range from $150,000 to $300,000 over three years. Research topics include, among others, “democracy and civil rights,” “the arts as a force for justice,” and “environmental justice and climate change.” Emory president Gregory Fenves joined the university in August 2020, with a commitment to social justice. They also provide RACE Forward $250 micro-grants to students championing racial equity.  Some other campuses that provide racial advocacy prizes are Indiana University Bloomington, the University of Miami, Williams College, and Columbia University. These grants are an important step for universities to encourage concrete steps towards equity. 

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✨ This trend has me yelling, “DOOP” 24/7! Users point out ironic “dupes” of popular brands, whether at stores, in school, or at home. Check out examples by Zaya Perysian and @swagshady

✨ Sorry to break it to you, but naps, online shopping, and reading fanfiction are not healthy coping mechanisms. @mikaelaistired’s audio is exposing everyone on their coping skills — and we’re a bit concerned. Yet again, Gen Z is poking fun at our problems. 

✨ Does third wheeling make you think, “I guess I gotta go?” This TikTok audio, quoting SZA’s “Open Arms,” is used by young people to highlight the awkward moments that make you say “‘ight, I’mma head out.” @buffalochickendipbby and @saviangabrielle encapsulate the trend perfectly! 

Screenshot of the Week 

The love is strong here! In this photo, Hank Willis Thomas hugs his wife Rujeko Hockley at the opening of “The Embrace” in Boston. Willis Thomas designed the 20-foot-tall sculpture along with Embrace Boston, choosing to illustrate the iconic photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King celebrating his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize win. Ekua Holmes of the Boston Art Commission said, “as young people from around the world — but especially here in Boston — encounter The Embrace, I hope they see themselves reflected in its bronze patina, feel proud, and know that history moves forward from where they stand today.” “The Embrace” is now entering everyone’s bucket list! 

Andrew Tate just suffered his latest defeat — this time, at the hands of Gen Z climate activist Greta Thunberg. With no context, Tate Tweeted at Thunberg about his “33 cars” and their “respective enormous emissions.” He then replied “she ain’t ready” to a Tweet saying the pair should “stop flirting and just f*** already.” Luckily, karma was on Thunberg’s side for this altercation. A day after Tate responded, he was arrested by Romanian police; though he moved to Romania from the UK because “rape laws are more lenient there,” he was taken in along with his brother on December 29 on charges of sexual assault, human trafficking, and forming an organized crime group. We last covered Tate in the August 30 edition, when he was banned from the social media giants; since then, it seems his life is going even further downhill. And, Thunberg’s Tweet telling him to email her “at smalld***energy@getalife.com” has become the fourth most liked Tweet of all time. Can someone say, “Karma is a god?” 

Not even one week into session, and the House of Representatives has already descended into chaos. First off, the Kevin McCarthy debacle. Poised to be the Speaker of the House, McCarthy faced a whopping 15 votes before assuming his position. Other representatives brought popcorn, read books, and cared for babies. On MSNBC’s TikTok reporting McCarthy’s successful vote, and Gen Z had a field day. @misterzee7 commented, “This House of Cards episode has me shook,” while @stuckonlevel1 joked, “Kevin McCarthy is a S.I.M.P. Speaker in MAGA’s Pocket.” McCarthy is redefining “flop era” for all of us. As if this wasn’t enough, freshman Representative George Santos has become embroiled in scandal over his web of campaign lies. Seven of his falsehoods, as reported by Tristan Snell, are his Judaism, his mother’s 9/11 death, his education at Baruch and NYU, his jobs at CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs, his profession as a landlord, his leadership of a charity, and his employees’ death in the Pulse shooting. In reality, he is Catholic, his mother died in 2016, he didn’t work or study at any of the locations listed, and he had no employees die at Pulse. Santos is now facing charges on every level (including international!), and is being memed for not hearing his own name during Speaker voting and glitching out. Lastly, Santos was captured making a white supremacist symbol in the House, despite saying he is biracial. The worst part, though: “Grab-N-Go Pizza & Salads” being canceled

In Keith we trust! Keith Lee is a popular food reviewer who is “single handed[ly] carrying tik tok right now.” Lee’s calming reviews of local restaurants, which he rates from 1 to 10, have made him a digital star. He often records with his young children Riley and Karter and wife Ronni, making Lee the wholesome food creator the internet needed. He has been credited with helping out dozens of family businesses, as he chooses to check out restaurants that are struggling (and avoids any sponsored or fake reviews). Las Vegas pizzeria Frankenson’s desperately reached out, saying they could not afford rent and other influencers had charged them thousands for a review. In return, Lee’s reaction brought them a line out of the door and hundreds of thousands of TikTok followers. Anah Passed noted that “Keith Lee’s video has [her] on a 4 hour road trip to try” the food. Lee has become the unofficial ambassador of tons of small restaurants around the US, as well as garnering a reputation for honest promotion or critiques. One user commented, “Keith needs to be president of food,” and we’re strongly in agreement. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) creations have caught attention in recent weeks — whether “portraits” trending on TikTok or text generators being used in cover letters. New York City Public Schools are not entertained by this discourse, however. The school system has banned the use of ChatGPT for teachers and students on school computers and wireless networks. Education Department spokesperson Jenna Lyle stated, “it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for … success.” In December, the New York Times challenged educators to differentiate between childrens’ and AI’s essays, something most couldn’t do. The Atlantic called ChatGPT the “end of high school English.” However, Gen Z seems to be very divided on this issue. Project GenZAI is a multinational organization pushing young people to interact with a “human first AI future.” @BaSingSeUpdates, a young humor account based on the “Avatar” series, Tweeted, “AI ‘art’ is banned from Ba Sing Se.” Voice actors, artists, and authors have all shown fear at their job prospects with the increasing dominance of AI. Whether you’re acceptant or skeptical of the technology, there is no doubt it will change our world. 

K-Pop girl group NewJeans are giving the most Gen Z energy! The group of five idols (Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein) are the first group to launch from the ADOR label. NewJeans focuses on a nostalgic feel to their songs and music videos. “Attention” was the first song to catch on mainstream TikTok, and they’ve blown up since, with 10.9 million monthly Spotify listeners. The majority of the music video for “Ditto” was filmed with a camcorder, channeling NewJeans’ nostalgic energy. @swooningfangirl noted that “they scream young adult and coming of age vibes added with fun nostalgia.” From Olivia Rodrigo’s “Brutal” to chloe moriondo’s “Fruity,” many Gen Z artists are channeling earlier times in their music videos. Young people’s love of all things retro is here to stay! 

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✨ Gen Z have taken “that’s so last year” to a new level with in/out Notes app lists. So, what’s in? Loving me, taking up space, dancing every day, and outfit repeating, to name a few. Make your brand an “in” by curating a post like these. 

✨ Show some appreciation, scrumdilly yum yum style! This sound is used to appreciate others, whether it’s claw clip girlies or people who write “_ days until break” on the whiteboard. Through all the negativity on TikTok, this trend shines through. 

✨ For my last meal, I’ll take pesto pasta with a side of SZA! This TikTok trend, to Bhad Bhabie’s “Gucci Flip Flops,” asks users what they’d have as a final meal. However, they choose one hot meal and one … hot person. See examples by @demibabyy2001 and @maditasbibliotheca

Screenshot of the Week 

2013 was only 5 years ago, … right? Somehow, we’re out here celebrating the 10-year mark of a year full of Katy Perry lyrics, the PRISM leaks, Margaret Thatcher’s death, and way too much galaxy print. Whether 2023 brings more of the same or brand-new cultural moments, only time will tell — but we’ll keep you posted on all of them.