TikTok's Fucked Up Search Bars🔎
+ Ted Lasso's visit to the White House, & a new Shit You Should Cook About 🥖
Hi angels!!! How are you? If it’s Wednesday, happy hump day, and if it’s Thursday happy mini Friday!! Last night I went to the Louis Tomlinson documentary with a new friend and oh my god - it was actually AMAZING. I’m gonna write all about it for you tomorrow in the Diary Edish, and also about how weird/ hard it is making new friends as an adult???? So much to catch up on, so little newsys.
Anyway, Laura and I recorded you a v good episode of Culture Vulture yesterday:
And Bel and I (yes, Bel) are recording you a cute ep of The Shit Show today, so stay tuned for that!!
Love you the goddamn most, see you over on Close Friends xxx
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TikTok's Fucked Up Search Bars 🔎
Shit You Should Cook About: THE focaccia 🍞🥖
🗺Around the world🗺
Ted Lasso visits the White House, Boris Johnson is NOT sorry for party rocking, & more.
TikTok's Fucked Up Search Bars 🔎
Content warning: miscarriage/ pregnancy loss.
I want to preface this piece by saying that the only publication I am ok with being scooped by (beaten to the chase) is Embedded, and I will therefore do the dutiful newsletter-crush thing and be plugging them throughout this whole segment (go and subscribe plz.)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but sometimes when you head into the comment section of someone’s TikTok, there’s a lil magnifying glass at the top with a ‘suggested’ phrase that you might want to search - and it’s almost ALWAYS a drama inducing or super invasive prompt. For example:
The goal of this, according to Embedded, seems to be: “to anticipate what you’d be curious about after watching whatever it is you just saw.” AKA to try and read our little pea brains and push us to be the nosiest versions of ourselves (something that doesn’t take much encouragement for me, personally.)
“But human curiosity is a dangerous thing to cater to, because more often than not, what TikTok’s search predictor thinks we’re curious about is the intimate details of the creators’ personal lives.”
That last sentence hit the nail on the head for me. I’ve had this piece half-written in a Google doc since early March, after I’d spent a few months seeing the exact same example of this invasiveness: a prompt asking me to search whether Zoe Sugg (Zoella) had had a miscarriage.
Zoe and Alfie continue to be my comfort people, so every time a video of them (or their baby Ottie) comes up on my feed I feel soft and good and relaxed. That’s until I go to the comment section, and even though the comments are always REALLY nice, the little search bar almost ALWAYS pops up saying ‘Zoe Sugg miscarriage.’ Because I am a flawed human, each time I see it I click on it to see if there is ANY element of truth to the prompt (and for their sake I always hope that there isn’t). And there never has been.
I wondered if TikTok was just serving this prompt to me, or whether it was a more widespread thing, but about a week later I saw this video (which Embedded wrote about in their piece too):
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This is what prompted me to begin writing about the godforsaken search bar. In the video, delivery nurse Jen Hamilton discusses how TikTok had put a prompt in one of her videos which said: ‘Elyse Myers pregnancy loss’ (Elyse Myers is a beloved and incredibly popular creator who had just announced her pregnancy on TikTok.) This search bar prompt alone cause this situation to spiral out of control, to the point where people were believing a completely unsubstantiated rumour involving two people who literally had nothing to do with it. And it was no one’s fault - there was no one to hold accountable or to be mad at - just a big, unreachable, and un-transparent company who can kinda get away with this shit?
I guess when I went to write this I didn’t really have a conclusion to this weird phenomenon - it feels so wrapped up in this whole new AI world we’re moving into and the unknown implications (ones we can’t even begin to predict) that come with it - but thankfully Embedded did come to a conclusion:
“How helpful is it to have TikTok predict our searches if the tool is confusing people more than it is helping them? Similarly, how much of a leap forward is GPT-4 if it just makes stuff up, or the latest version of Midjourney if the images it generates are “creepy”? Our robot overlords are not going to destroy us. It’s more likely they’ll just keep finding novel new ways to annoy us, especially if we keep pursuing these technological advances just for the sake of it.”
And you should go and subscribe to Embedded bc they’re the GOAT:
Shit You Should Cook About: THE focaccia 🍞🥖
This section is written by London Laura. Laura is our resident ray of sunshine and co-host of Culture Vulture (our weekly pop culture podcast), a new London dweller, chief of romanticising literally everything, and will definitely ask you all what your love language is at some stage. You can find more Shit She Should Cook About over here!
Hi whānau!!! What a weeeeek I am tbh still recovering so if you want the FULL debrief pop over to the CV pod to hear Luce and me on your bonafide fave pop culture podcast 💕
But, one thing I will never be too tired for is cooking and I can’t tell you how much I loooooved seeing you all in the comments and hearing your feedback on this new lil space. I am soo excited to be back again with another SYSCookA recipe and musing for you all!!!
This brings me to THE focaccia.
What you need to understand is this isn’t just a focaccia recipe. This is the focaccia equivalent of the Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants - no matter if you can’t bake, don’t have the right tray, if you have never touched a stove, have the wrong oil, use a different topping - I am telling you if you vaguely follow this recipe you will make the best, crispiest, saltiest, most pillowy delicious focaccia that you have ever tasted - and anyone can do it. Even Luce.
First, a disclaimer - This is Shit You Should Cook About - not just because we love a cute title, but because I cannot bake. I struggle with *structure* so when I bake, things always end up overdone or lopsided, and me not being able to taste things along the way (due to a deep fear of raw egg installed in me by my mother - anyone else?) leaves me frustrated and my end-product overly sweet.
HOWEVER, this focaccia changed all of that!!! It came to me as all good bread does, in lockdown, thanks to my bestie sharing a recipe she had from a friend of a friend. At the time I was crushing on my flatmate (now husband - a story another time) and in particular his ability to make bread from scratch. So on my turn for flat date night / dinner I gave her recipe a go, accidentally doubled the amount of honey and got distracted leaving it to rise for too long - and it was brilliant. Since then, this focaccia has come with me everywhere - to dinner parties, work events, and you better believe I was up at 7am on the day of our engagement party taking 5 fresh loaves out of the oven. Being newly #married, this goddamn recipe is now the only reason I have people sliding into my DM’s - so it is only right to share it here with you!
If you have any q’s / tips would love to see you in the comments and for more recipes / food metaphors pop over to IG and say hi!!! 🌞 London Laura xxxx
In a big bowl mix 400ml warm water, half a tablespoon yeast and 1 tablespoon honey and leave them to become friends for 20mins. When you come back, the top of the water should be frothy (if it is not, check the date on your yeast and make sure it hasn’t expired!). Add in 500g flour, using your hands to mix it with the yeasty mixture in the bowl (at this point I sometimes add a pinch of salt if I remember!). Pop a tea towel over the top and leave it in the warmest part of your house (doorstep in the sun, laundry cupboard) for 60mins. When you check it - it should have risen! Give it a *stretch*, which can be punching the dough in the bowl, wetting your hands and pulling parts of the dough up and over the others, whatever you fancy! You are trying to deflate the dough to let it keep growing. Cover w tea towel and leave AGAIN for another 45-60 mins. While it is growing, preheat your oven to 220°C / 428°F and pop in the tray you will be baking this on.
When the rise time is up, get your olive oil & toppings (salt, thyme, chili flakes) ready and remove your tray from the oven - here you gotta work *quick* while the tray is hot - pour some oil into the base (enough to cover it) and then tip in your puffy dough. With oily fingers, work to press the dough into the corners of tray (don’t burn yourself!) dimpling it with your fingers to create little grooves. Once it’s in, drizzle olive oil over the top (filling those little grooves) and sprinkle your salt / herbs / chili flakes / toppings of choice!
Bake for 40 mins, once the top is golden remove it from the oven and tip it out of your tray - it should fall out easily since you oiled the bottom AND be golden and crunchy from that hot pan. Chic!!! Pop it in a tote bag (it’s the perfect size) and take to a dinner party - slicing it once there & on the table for full marvel / effect. 💕
🗺Around the world 🗺
‘Ted Lasso’ visits White House, promotes mental health care (AP News)
AND THE BEST PART ABOUT IT WAS WHEN HE TOOK A QUESTION FROM TRENT CRIMM, THE INDEPENDENT!!
‘We can defeat Macron’: Why women’s anger is fuelling French pension protests (France24)
“Women are structurally underpaid and their pensions are lower as a result. And yet they have some of the most exhausting jobs, working absurd hours on top of caring for the young and the elderly,” she said, pointing to the fact that women's pensions are on average 40% lower than men's. The fact that they’re being asked to work longer now only adds insult to injury.“
Boris Johnson insists Partygate events were necessary at heated hearing (BBC)
Remember when Boris Johnson attended all those parties while the rest of the UK was in literal lockdown? Well, he’s being grilled about it today. You can follow it here!
WE'RE GIVING AWAY TICKETS TO THE 1975!!
I am still DEEP in my Matty Healy/ The 1975 obsession - so much so that I'm going to BOTH of their New Zealand shows - and I want you to have the chance to go too!!! Thanks to our literal besties at Live Nation (who support us in all our obsessions) we have a double pass to their Wellington show (April 19th 2023) AND two double passes to their Auckland show (April 21st 2023) show to give away!!!
All you need to do is make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter, fill out the form below, and we'll announce the winner in a week's time xxxx
We’re launching a breakup podcast!!
New podcast alert!!! Next Monday we’re launching a brand new podcast series (within our Culture Vulture feed) all about how to break up better. It’s called ‘Own The Feels,’ it’s brought to you by Love Better, and it’s based around YOUR breakup stories. We cover it all - from ghosting, to revenge, to stalking - you all provided us with some juicy stuff!
Listen to Own The Feels in our Culture Vulture feed, wherever you get your podcasts, from next Monday!!!
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Thank you for the recipe Laura! I will definitely try it on the weekend
Yayyyy to the recipe!!! Thank you and more please xx