The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: What’s the Pizza Robot?Reading Time: 4 minutes
It’s a dark and terrible world out there, but at least there’s robot pizza to console us.
This week, I’m taking a look at some of the darker, uglier, grotesque goings-on in young people culture, from toxic masculinity, to scary stalkers, and artistic grotesquery. But there’s also a robot pizza maker and some cool bugs to balance the scales.
This week, Knoxville, Tennessee resident Jacob Yerkes posted a video that went viral in the worst possible way. In it, Yerkes talks to a couple police officers that he apparently called himself, as he straight up describes how he’s stalking a co-worker, admitting he ‘chased her’ because ‘women like that.’ He goes on to explain that women want to be raped, using BDSM porn as proof. The cops point out that women actually don’t like that, and he should leave this particular woman alone. Then they send him on his way instead of snapping cuffs on him right there. It’s a disturbing video, and Yerkes’ twitter feed and SoundCloud are equally terrifying with tons of references to rape, homophobia, racism, and Ayn Rand. Dude is a living distillation of the very worst things on the internet.
But there’s a happy ending (as happy as anything like this can be, anyway). The Loudon County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that Yerkes was arrested on charges of aggravated stalking and harassment. According to Loudon County, Yerkes’ ‘social media threats garnished national attention that lead to the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office becoming involved as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force.’
Writer Laura Pitcher at I-D identified an interesting trend among young people that I’ve touched on here in the past: Ugliness and all things grotesque are having a moment. Consider the ubiquity of elaborately ugly cakes, the popularity of pimple-popping videos, and artist/clothing designer Michaela Stark’s lingerie designed to deform flesh and highlight decaying skin, stretch marks, veins, and other things women are ‘supposed to’ cover-up. And that’s just the beginning—there’s a world of ugliness out there.
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Maybe it’s a backlash against social media’s obsession with the carefully crafted and picturesque, or maybe it’s an expression of the ugliness at the heart of post-industrial society, or maybe it’s just something to piss off older people like me—I mean, kids, you’re going to look ugly and horrific in a few years anyway. Why rush it? But there it is—ugly is in.
Speaking of things that are ugly—like actually ugly, not performatively ugly— the internet’s incels are on some new(-ish) bullshit, and it’s even stupider and meaner than their old bullshit. The new thing is a made-up class of men they call ‘sigma males,’ as opposed to the alpha and beta males they made up before.
According to the internet’s worst people, sigmas are the rarest kind of male, lone wolves who play by their own rules. They’re obsessed with grinding for money, and very attractive to women, but they also hate women, so they treat them with contempt. The whole thing can be summed up by the fictional hero of the ‘movement,’ Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Or by thinking of them as alpha males without the whole ‘being likable and having friends’ part. The people who prey on lonely internet weirdos are telling their followers they must adopt the ‘Sigma Grindset’ to achieve this status—make money, work out, eschew all joy and friendship.
In reality, few if any of these clueless dorks are going to manage the ‘being attractive to women’ part of the Sigma lifestyle, nor will many achieve the ‘having money’ part, no matter how many instructional courses they buy or YouTube videos they watch. But the popularity of aspiring to be a misogynistic sociopath is disturbing, and so is the concept’s popularity—there are 3 billion views of videos tagged #sigmagrindset.
Personally, I’m not alpha, beta, or sigma. I’m an omega male, like Charlton Heston in Omega Man. The last man on earth, beset by mutants on all sides, I take refuge in an old movie theater and watch the Woodstock documentary again and again.
That’s enough looking at the dark side of youth culture. Here’s something that’s just positive: Pizza robots exist. Right now! On earth! But you have to go to Southfield, Michigan to see them. Southfield is the home of Zabot, an automated pizza kiosk/robot that bakes and dispenses a pie without any help from puny humans. Zabot can sell you a pizza 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That’s all the time there is! All hail our robot-pizza overlords!
Like everyone else, I learned about Zabot from a video posted by bonnie.babyyyy. According to Bonnie, Zabot’s instructions were simple, the pepperoni pizza was ready in three minutes, and reasonably priced. Sadly, it was also ‘a little doughy,’ but if movies have taught us anything, it’s that robots are good incrementally improving their programming until they gain sentience that commence killing all of us squishy humans. So let’s give pizza robot some time, is what I’m saying
Let’s clear our palates of internet ugliness and robot pizza by looking closely at some bugs! YouTube channel TierZoo has an innovative way of presenting natural sciences—it examines animals through the lens of video games, placing animal ‘factions’ on best-to-worst tier lists based on their abilities, builds, and strategies. This week’s viral video, The Insect Tier List combines beautiful macrophotography of insects with a deadpan VoiceOver that ranks various kinds of insects.
Silverfish are at the bottom of the pile, for their low defenses and lame special ability (gaining XP from eating cellulose). At the top of the list, we have beetles, the tanks of the insect faction; beetles have the highest AC, while excelling in combat power, chemical weapons, and high movement speed. I won’t spoil the best insect of all, but their main advantage comes in their numbers and an unmatched ability to work together.