A necessary tonal shift in branded social during a global pandemic.

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It seems it was only yesterday that beloved fast food chains were tweeting that their burgers were “thicc,” sparking conversation centered around their content, to line up and dunk on them or posit whether or not the chain eats ass.

It wasn’t yesterday, but a mere nine days ago. Did something interesting occur on March 11th? Oh right, COVID-19 officially became a pandemic. And the brand posting came to a screeching halt. Temporarily.

What happens when social media makes a massive shift to maudlin, across the entire spectrum, when you’ve been cultivating a persona that only fits within its previous incarnation? …

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Our Savior’s Church, Palm Springs, CA

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Here I have! And hold all that I am
on this perfect Saturday morning

The hummingbirds sling orbits outside
my window, a dog chases the mail truck! No shit!

And how have I never seen that before, America?
The mailman is the track-rabbit shimmering

Parallel my white picket fence, the dog is always
the dog, our yard is dead, I’m sleeping less and I’m sure

You’ve guessed my new trajectory, space debris
cutting rugs in the dance halls of good intentions and cosmic

Mistake. The sky is the blue of an apartment complex pool
in a neighborhood richer than ours, steamed flat and…

A selection of bad days (and a good one)

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Photo: Adam Smialy/EyeEm/Getty Images

When I get out of jail it is a beautiful bright winter day, now absolutely ruined, the taste of cheap bologna and warm boxed milk lingering in my mouth as I squint and re-lace my Sambas.

I feel worse than the night my heart stopped, splayed across the staircase leading up to my apartment, my vision blurring in hyper speed while my neighbor drilled me with chest compressions to the distant sound of sirens.

Or was it the cold December morning I left the clinic in Pasadena, my heart in some slow-motion shatter, and drove into Forest Lawn to leave flowers at Brittany Murphy’s grave? …

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In Glendale, California, there stand two neighboring malls, living in harmony for over a decade — until recently. After a new Twitter account surfaced, dealing in the currency of memes about the Americana at Brand (the newer, shinier, outdoor mall), began stoking a rivalry with the more classic long-standing mall across the street, the Glendale Galleria.

The account’s staunch position is that the Americana is superbly better than the Galleria which is, in their view, shopping trash. Eventually someone responded by creating an account for the Galleria, and in turn several more accounts appeared for other niche Angeleno shopping experiences in Burbank, Santa Monica, et al. …

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I will not buy a book today
about the burning earth or the drought dead ditches
my family once from whence ripped citrus

and true, our home is dying
though I thought there’d be more
dancing —

the foyer of my heart, it too, a furnace
broiling my best intentions
spreading my ash all selfish
in its sauntering descent.

I want to walk deep into something you love,
like the sea,
until I cannot breathe —

blame it on the boomers, zero in on gen x,
what’s the cost of malaise, anyway?

and if the present is the process
then the past is its product
I mean look at all you’ve done! …

Social media, design, and the meme machine that capitalizes on “wokeness”

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Illustration: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

Before I get into some vague yet persistent observations on what I’m identifying as the “aesthetic of relevancy,” allow me to define some perspective boundaries: These aren’t hard truths, but trends I’ve observed while working in advertising over the past six years, writing for and existing on the internet, and being a millennial consumer who is self-conscious of that fact while living in the world with similar peers.

In addition, I’m basing these observations on a particular class of consumer: a left-leaning, “creative,” middle-class consumer who is active on social media and considers themselves well-informed and socially conscious. They possess a great deal of buying power, either in actuality or via influence. They have disposable income, possibly for the first time in their adult lives, which they primarily spend on aspirational lifestyle building — and a majority of that spending is allotted for experiences rather than products. This is important because when they do allocate that spending for products, it is essential that the product says something about themselves: their personality, or a projected personality. …


Alan Hanson

Writer | California Son | alan-hanson.com

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