Clubhouse, saying ‘cheugy’ and everything else we should leave in 2021

For the new year, let's give these things up.

Lit signs with "live, laugh, love"

Here’s a list of everything else that would best be left in 2021.

Photo: Brandi Alexandra/Unsplash

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I’m convinced no one ever organically used the term “cheugy.” Or at least it’s a thing millennials heard Zoomers say far more than Zoomers ever said it among themselves.

We all read that same New York Times article. Our parents asked if we had heard the term before and of course we hadn’t, which kicked off a vicious cycle of overcompensation. Every friend group had to have “the cheugy talk.” Nobody knows what qualifies … that’s the point. "Tiger King"? Probably cheugy. Chipotle? Cheugy if you ask for a tortilla on the side. Naming your golden retriever puppy Cuomo? Formerly cheugy; now, just unsettling.

Millennials came up with “basic,” “cringe,” “sketch” and, some would even say, “lol.” We had a good run. But now we face a choice: gracefully accept our impending cultural irrelevance or insist that “cheugy” is still a thing. I say we opt for the former. Go gentle into that dark night, and slink home to “Netflix and chill” with "The Office" reruns for the umpteenth time. There needn’t be shame in passing the torch.

In this spirit of new beginnings and continuous improvement, here’s a list of everything else that would best be left in 2021.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club

I’ve come to terms with the fact that NFTs aren’t going away in 2022, but can we at least cool it with the monkeys … sorry, apes? The cheapest Bored Ape NFT will run you around $300,000. (Screenshots are free, of course.) Surely a trend spearheaded by both Jimmy Fallon and Mark Cuban can’t last much longer.

Zoom filters

Remember that meeting when everyone figured out how to use Zoom filters? There were the sunglasses, the mustache, the pizza-forehead, even an N-95 mask that nobody asked for. Good times. The novelty probably wore off by late 2020, so I think we can safely proclaim Zoom filters would best be left in 2021. Goodbye, sweet prince (2020-2021). And to be clear, this doesn’t apply to Zoom backgrounds, which still serve the very necessary function of blocking out your semi-nude uncle who just had to ask how long Totino’s Pizza Rolls take to cook before he hopped in the shower.

Clubhouse

Can anyone spare a Clubhouse invitation? I’ve been meaning to check it out, all the VCs are talking about it … oh, wait, what’s this? Twitter Spaces? Instagram Live Rooms? Facebook Live Audio Rooms? Discord? Ah, OK, never mind then. But best of luck to all parties involved, because moderating live audio rooms has turned out to be quite the nightmare.

Return-to-office dates

I’m not sure who’s still holding out hope for a COVID-free return to office, but things aren’t looking good. Omicron is raging. Protocol’s return to work calendar officially extends into 2023. As Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman recently put it, “everybody’s still finding their way and then you get the omicron variant; who knows, we’ll have pi, we’ll have theta and epsilon, and we’ll eventually run out of letters in the alphabet.” At this point, why keep up the ruse of certainty? Return dates are useful if they’re accurate, but to be accurate employers need to ignore developing circumstances in favor of sticking with The Plan. I expect companies will increasingly adopt indefinite remote-work policies with the promise of providing advance notice before requiring a return.

Caring about 5G

It’s been nearly three years since 5G smartphones started coming out, and we’re still waiting for the “killer app.” The jump from 3G to 4G has been credited with enabling ride-hailing, Snapchat, FaceTime and mobile navigation services. With 5G, telecoms are hoping that maybe AR glasses will become socially acceptable (Glassholes still haunt the public consciousness). Sure it might be nice to download an entire TV season in 33.6 seconds, but most of us are just fine streaming episodes or downloading them over Wi-Fi.

Instagram Kids

Meta paused development on Instagram Kids after The Wall Street Journal published leaked internal research that found “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.” Still, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri was sure to emphasize that the delay wasn’t “an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea,” but rather an opportunity to “demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.” Mosseri added: “[T]he reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.”

The YouTube 'dislike'

Some people would say I’m in denial about the death of the YouTube dislike display. I would introduce those people to a certain Chrome extension. YouTube said it removed dislikes to “protect our creators from harassment.” In my experience, however, almost all of the heavily disliked videos came from multinational corporate media outlets (e.g., the beautiful disaster that was YouTube Rewind 2018). YouTube could have selectively removed dislikes for independent creators, but instead it completely nixed one of the primary means of selecting videos. This whole debacle serves as a reminder that viewers aren’t YouTube’s customers, they’re part of the product. The experiential divide will further grow along tech-savvy lines: The extension crowd (equipped with ad-block and “Return YouTube Dislikes'') will have a hard time fathoming how everyone else tolerates the platform. Meanwhile, everyone else will put up with it because there are no true alternatives.

Climate

A pro-China disinformation campaign is targeting rare earth miners

It’s uncommon for cyber criminals to target private industry. But a new operation has cast doubt on miners looking to gain a foothold in the West in an apparent attempt to protect China’s upper hand in a market that has become increasingly vital.

It is very uncommon for coordinated disinformation operations to target private industry, rather than governments or civil society, a cybersecurity expert says.

Photo: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just when we thought the renewable energy supply chains couldn’t get more fraught, a sophisticated disinformation campaign has taken to social media to further complicate things.

Known as Dragonbridge, the campaign has existed for at least three years, but in the last few months it has shifted its focus to target several mining companies “with negative messaging in response to potential or planned rare earths production activities.” It was initially uncovered by cybersecurity firm Mandiant and peddles narratives in the Chinese interest via its network of thousands of fake social media accounts.

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Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

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While vast amounts of data are created, stored and processed every moment — by some estimates, 2.5 quintillion bytes daily — the insights in that code are unlocked by the memory chips that hold it and transfer it. “Memory will propel the next 10 years into the most transformative years in human history,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO of Micron Technology.

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Fintech

Ripple’s CEO threatens to leave the US if it loses SEC case

CEO Brad Garlinghouse said a few countries have reached out to Ripple about relocating.

"There's no doubt that if the SEC doesn't win their case against us that that is good for crypto in the United States,” Brad Garlinghouse told Protocol.

Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile for Collision via Getty Images

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said the crypto company will move to another country if it loses in its legal battle with the SEC.

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Policy

The Supreme Court’s EPA ruling is bad news for tech regulation, too

The justices just gave themselves a lot of discretion to smack down agency rules.

The ruling could also endanger work on competition issues by the FTC and net neutrality by the FCC.

Photo: Geoff Livingston/Getty Images

The Supreme Court’s decision last week gutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions didn’t just signal the conservative justices’ dislike of the Clean Air Act at a moment of climate crisis. It also served as a warning for anyone that would like to see more regulation of Big Tech.

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Enterprise

Microsoft and Google are still using emotion AI, but with limits

Microsoft said accessibility goals overrode problems with emotion recognition and Google offers off-the-shelf emotion recognition technology amid growing concern over the controversial AI.

Emotion recognition is a well-established field of computer vision research; however, AI-based technologies used in an attempt to assess people’s emotional states have moved beyond the research phase.

Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft said last month it would no longer provide general use of an AI-based cloud software feature used to infer people’s emotions. However, despite its own admission that emotion recognition technology creates “risks,” it turns out the company will retain its emotion recognition capability in an app used by people with vision loss.

In fact, amid growing concerns over development and use of controversial emotion recognition in everyday software, both Microsoft and Google continue to incorporate the AI-based features in their products.

“The Seeing AI person channel enables you to recognize people and to get a description of them, including an estimate of their age and also their emotion,” said Saqib Shaikh, a software engineering manager and project lead for Seeing AI at Microsoft who helped build the app, in a tutorial about the product in a 2017 Microsoft video.

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