In 2022, the first Oxford word of the year to be chosen by public vote was ‘goblin mode’, a slang term catapulted to social media stardom by feral gen Zers with potentially too much time on their hands. Though we’re only a month into 2023, it wouldn’t be unsurprising to anyone if ‘mass layoff’ clinched this year’s title.
As the economy flatlines, people are finding new ways to utilise online platforms in order to spread awareness about this growing movement of widespread redundancies—particularly within the tech industry. Currently, the phrase ‘life after layoff’ has been viewed 332.7 million times on TikTok and it’s becoming more and more apparent that former employees’ sacked stories are on their way to becoming the biggest trend of 2023.
Although we would never want to minimise the genuine upset and impact these mass layoffs have had on so many individuals, it’s important to note that the recent upheaval within the tech industry has created space for incredibly authentic and healthy testimonies from young professionals coping and ultimately accepting the fact that their career trajectory has changed.
So far, Twitter, Tesla, Spotify, Amazon and Microsoft have all issued major layoffs, and mind you, we’re only four weeks into the year.
However, among all these companies, one of the biggest culling culprits has been tech mogul Google. Refocusing its attention on the potential of AI (artificial intelligence) and floundering after the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google’s parent company Alphabet announced that it would be laying off 12,000 employees on 20 January 2023.
Layoff testimonies have been circulating online for a short time now. Be it airing grievances, dishing on company gossip or seeking validation from others, gen Zers have always taken to social media when it comes to reconstructing, reliving and retelling every facet of their lives.
However, the recent upsurge of Google redundancies in particular exploded with interest online. I mean, it makes sense. Google employees have been known to relentlessly flaunt their luxurious working lives online. From gourmet lunches to an onsite masseuse, company insiders truly sold a spectacular image of what it was like to work at the prestigious multinational technological organisation.
But what comes up often must come down, and after the recent boom of layoffs, former Google employees also found themselves creating videos explaining their thoughts on the matter and, more importantly, documenting how their daily lives had changed.
Nik Pollina, an online creator and former Google employee of five years, is one such individual to participate in this growing trend. In a video titled Day one of life after getting laid off, Pollina explained how even though “on paper” her life appeared to have gone downhill, in reality, she was really content with the situation and considered it a sign that she should pursue other career avenues that she’d already been contemplating.
Social media creator Nicole Tsai, also a former Google employee, actually filmed the day where she discovered she was being laid off and shared it with her 35,000 followers on TikTok. From the video, it seems apparent that very few senior management were aware of the extent of the layoffs, a chaotic firing experience that Tsai described as “Russian roulette.”
In classic gen Z style, Tsai wrapped her daily layoff vlog by eating her feelings at Disneyland:
As previously mentioned, Google is by no means the first tech giant to initiate such mass layoffs. According to data analysts Crunchbase, more than 46,000 workers in US-based tech companies have been laid off in mass job cuts so far in 2023. And it doesn’t seem like the sacking spike is about to drop any time soon.
While it’s important to recognise how incredibly painful this process has been for some, it’s also encouraged and allowed for greater transparency and understanding in regard to unemployment, job insecurity and career upheaval—something older generations often shy away from.
Some boomers may consider gen Zers irresponsible and irrational when it comes to sharing their lives online, and to some degree, they might have a point. Although, personally I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of the ‘Dating Wrapped’ videos.
In these uncertain times, social media can be an incredibly healing place for communities of individuals to help one another and collectively ponder the future.
Videos detailing the best tips and tricks for handling your first few days of unemployment have already begun to circulate online. Mental health deterioration is highly associated with job insecurity and with gen Zers’ levels of anxiety and depression at an all time high, it’s crucial people feel as though there are digestible resources for them online.
In terms of what’s in store for the rest of this year, it’s a worrying prospect. The cost of living crisis is showing no signs of slowing down and it’s been predicted by Fortune that big tech companies could lay off another 20 per cent of employees. So, with so much turmoil in the air, it’s highly likely that unemployment influencers might just become the top creators of 2023.
Ever since 2016, the internet has made a tradition out of celebrating surveillance capitalism in the guise of tailored reports that recap our habits of the year. Following the launch of Spotify Wrapped—the coveted feature that fans routinely grind towards and base their entire personality around when it drops every December—the concept of a ‘year-in-review’ has gripped most digital services today.
While Apple Music has its revamped Replay feature and YouTube Music offers a Recap experience, Deezer releases its summaries in the form of #MyDeezerYear and Amazon Music generates rather disappointing playlists for users. Heck, even Reddit has its own Recap feature that illustrates the amount of time you spent shitposting and visiting various subs in the hopes of finding a custom long Furby.
Over the past few years, Spotify Wrapped’s impact has catapulted the feature as a cultural reset among gen Zers and millennials alike. Today, both generations expect every single online platform to track and judge their data in exchange for aesthetic statistics they can share with the rest of the world. And, as it turns out, their dating lives are no exception.
A Spotify Wrapped report essentially gives you insights about your top five artists, genres and songs, audio personality (what even is Sorrow Escapism Liminal Space?), and amount of minutes listened. Now, imagine such information being pulled from your miserable presence on dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and more.
If you ask me, the report would read something like this: “In 2022, you swiped right on 26 crypto bros and 38 people named Matt. You went on a sum total of 25 dates with your matches, out of whom 5 kittenfished you, 13 ghosted you right after, and 2 blocked and reported your profile to our teams. You took 150 screenshots of cringey profiles to share with your WhatsApp group chat, and even rage quit our app 7 times. What was that all about, huh?”
“You also received 57 unsolicited gym selfies, but to top things off, you were among the top 1 per cent of users who slid into people’s DMs at 3 am! Congratulations, your dating app rizz is doomed beyond recovery!”
It’s worth noting that the conversation about dating apps having their own year-in-review feature has been making the rounds for a while now. In 2020, comedian Grace Hayes went viral after she uploaded her DIY Bumble Wrapped on TikTok. Leveraging the green screen effect, Hayes curated #bumblewrapped on the video-sharing platform—with 44,800 views and counting. The clip was so popular that even Bumble left a comment stating: “This is AMAZING. Inspiring us 😏😏”
The following year, software engineer Niko Draca created a third-party website for Hinge users to generate their own Wrapped reports. “First thing you’ll see is how many people you encountered on the app and how many you said yes to,” Draca explained in the widely-circulated clip. “Then you’ll see all of the likes, rejections, matches, etc over the year. You can also see what time of the day you sent the most chat messages, how many people you chatted with in total, and how long those conversations lasted.” Apart from the top three emojis, the website additionally provided users with a word cloud made up of the terms they deployed the most in DMs.
Draca was undoubtedly the trailblazer for Hinge Wrapped, and it’s safe to say that the dating app has been real quiet since the video went viral.
Fast forward to 2022, TikTok users have now taken things up a notch with a trend called ‘Dating Wrapped’—where they are seen brutally recapping their past year in romance in hopes of manifesting a better love life. Here, insights are no longer restricted to a single dating app. Instead, they focus on the participants’ relationship exploits in general, including how they met their matches, what they did on first dates, and how many times they cried over someone.
All of the data is then collated onto… a PowerPoint slideshow, and the deck is later presented using a laptop angled towards the viewers.
“[This is] truly one of the most depressing things I’ve ever done,” said Toronto-based TikToker Alexandria McLean in her video which is believed to have kicked off the trend. “I went on 21 first dates… Yikes! I met 66 per cent [of matches] on Bumble and 33 per cent on Hinge. In terms of where we went, activity and dinner are tied at 30 per cent, coffee [and] walking dates [are] at 28 per cent, and drinks are 42 per cent. I don’t know why I went on so many walking dates, I hate walking dates.”
“In terms of who ended it, 90 per cent [of matches] ended it with me. Honestly, [that’s] a low number considering I’m a walking red flag,” McLean continued. “So, if you want to go out and want to be a part of my 2023 Dating Wrapped, hit me up!”
Shortly after McLean’s video floored TikTok, users started querying the creator about the PowerPoint template and font she’d used for her presentation. It even paved the way for the rise of #datingwrapped, now with 8.1 million views and counting.
“If any of these men see this, I want you to know that you’re not special and you’re just a number to me,” TikToker Amber Smith captioned her video, which has since garnered over 3.1 million views. In the clip, Smith detailed that she went on 18 first dates, was handed two parking tickets, and spent a total of $383.36 on her matches. “I wish I had not calculated this number,” she stated. “What could I have done with this money? Literally anything else would’ve been better.”
As of today, the concept of Dating Wrapped has evolved to include star signs, age gaps, red, beige and pink flags, the number of hoodies participants have stolen from their partners, STIs they’ve treated, as well as the number of tattoos they regret getting. While some bestow digital awards to their dates, others are seen creating introvert and queer editions of the trend.
Given how 2022 still has a couple of weeks left to conclude, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness the introduction of even more metrics to publicly analyse our love lives on the internet. Maybe the presentations can have a section where people note the different aesthetics and subcultures they’ve dated in the past year?
At the end of the day, no matter how many slides you choose to include in your deck, the aim of Dating Wrapped at its core is self-reflection. So, you’re good as long as you walk away with actionable insights and don’t bring all the negative energy gathered in 2022 into your love life in 2023.
If you’ve stumbled across #datingwrapped on TikTok before, you might have noticed comments along the lines of “Don’t be shy, drop that PowerPoint template,” and “What’s the name of the font you’ve used? Where do I download it from?” Sure, these remarks might just be pointers that ultimately help others jump on the trend, however, it’s also another incognito factor that aids the popularity of Dating Wrapped.
With a presence that can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic, PowerPoint presentations have become the zeitgeist of gen Zers in cyberspace today. Be it to mansplain our hobbies or interests to others, give a crash course about our favourite series nobody asked for, plot moves in Clash of Clans, prove “the One Piece is real,” or justify that Chainsaw Man’s Makima is worth simping for, slideshows have become our weapon of choice to present peers with digestible chunks of information about the most unhinged topics.
If you really think about it, the resurgence of PowerPoints can be linked to our pathetic eight-second attention span. Gen Zers crave dynamicity in everything they are exposed to and what better way to explain something to the generation than using infographics they can breeze through?
The format also harbours parallels with LOL graphs or ‘silly graphs’ that first gripped meme culture in the mid-2000s. The statistical representation essentially doubled as a visual aid—designed to explain the most non-academic and trivial subjects “for teh lulz XD.”
Back to the case of Dating Wrapped, the trend checks out—considering how gen Z Spotify fans have proved to be least concerned about how Big Tech uses their personal data. “I wonder about all my stats on Youtube, Discord, Instagram,” an enthusiast previously told SCREENSHOT. “I wish there were things like Spotify Wrapped in each of them where we can see all our data like the most watched video, channel etc. And even further, I wish god would show us data of our life.”
All that being said, the possibilities of dating apps implementing a Wrapped-like feature seem bleak for the foreseeable future. Until then, you can choose to follow TikToker @cobiscreation’s advice and sneakily screenshot your crush’s Spotify Wrapped report the moment they share it on Instagram. You’ll know the exact songs and artists to stream the next time you guys hang out together.
Who knows, maybe it’ll work wonders for your 2023 Dating Wrapped… or not.