What the internet’s favourite Substack writers think will happen this year
Instagram-surrealism, Jeffrey Campbell Litas, custom-made drugs and finding new ways to entertain ourselves: our favourite Substack writers more weigh in on the future of everything.
Emily Kirkpatrick, I <3 Mess
Finding an outfit that can still scandalise and outrage the masses, in a time when total nudity on the red carpet is de rigueur, is a near-impossible feat. But this year, Julia Fox demonstrated that there is one last unexplored fashion frontier that still sends people into a tailspin: the mons pubis. Given that we’re still in the midst of an early aughts revival, the rises on everyone’s pants have lowered substantially over the course of 2022. But in 2023, I think things are about to take an extreme dip in a southerly direction, and I’m not talking about the bumster (although that is back in vogue, as well). I can already see the FUPA cutout becoming to fashion what the underboob reveal was back in 2014.
Instagram influencers get surrealist
Now that everyone and their grandmother is some sort of online influencer, it feels like the simple #OOTD and GRWM are no longer enough to satisfy the masses’ craving for fresh content. In the year to come, I think we’re going to see a lot of these street style stars, especially on Instagram, enter their Dalí era. This is inspired by people like Michaela Stark, aka “that body morphing bitch,” Jocelyn Wildenstein’s anime-esque FaceTune edits, and Aubrey O’Day’s incredible use of stock imagery to spice up her selfies. I think that after years of picture-perfect, hyper-stylised imagery, Instagram recently went through an “authenticity” backlash that actually had the inverse effect of making people realise the futility of trying to be honest on a platform built for self-aggrandisement. In 2023, we will slowly but surely continue this shift into the realm of the hyperreal, which almost feels more honest in its flagrant tweaks and edits.
Casey Lewis, After School
My prediction (and also my hope, really) for 2023 is that new platforms will surface, diversifying our day-to-day screen habits and helping us connect in different ways. This year gave us BeReal and TBH, as well as lots of other micro-platforms that had a moment or two in the spotlight, and I’d love to see more of that. I think as young people get increasingly exhausted by the trend cycle and rapid-fire TikTok algorithm, and seek out more candid and authentic ways to connect, things are going to get interesting and weird – in a fun way. I also expect that as more and more boomers and Xers infiltrate TikTok, Gen Z will flee.
Rayne Fisher-Quann, Internet Princess
With indie sleaze, bloghouse, Sky Ferreira, the 1975 and The Cobrasnake all making cultural comebacks this year, 2022 was undeniably the start of a serious Tumblr redux. We’ve basically opened Pandora’s Box. Next year, I predict this momentum will start bringing back some of the things we’d rather forget: galaxy print, Jeffrey Campbell Litas, JustGirlyThings, coding a homepage in HTML, shoplifting blogs… I give it six months before the SuperWhoLock posting starts.
Charlie Baker, The Fence
It’s easy enough to see where UK politics will go next year. There will be more hard grind by Keir Starmer’s Labour Party – in the best traditions of David Blunkett and Charles Clarke – to try and attain a workable lead over the technocratic, Rishi Sunak-led government that still maintains a significant parliamentary majority. It seems unlikely that there will be any hard ruptures in British politics in 2023.
But one interesting variable is the new King, Charles III, a monarch who has reached the throne at the age of 74 – his coronation next year will anoint a man who possesses powers loosely bound and, moreover, a crack PR team.
Under the auspices of former DMGT exec, Tobyn Andrae, Team Charles saw off Liz Truss’s attempts to stop the King from sounding off about climate change at COP27.
But with government sources behind the Qatari-cash-briefcase leak this summer, any attempts by the King to try and exert undue influence will be interesting to observe – and it will be fascinating to watch how the Tories try and manage a monarch with an active, itching desire to involve himself in the body politic.
Kyle Chayka, co-founder of Dirt and staff writer at The New Yorker
We have more ways of entertaining ourselves than ever, and yet so few methods are satisfying. Influencers are just advertising. TikTok’s endless scroll simply creates an appetite for more. First there were too few podcasts, now there are too many, and most of them are true crime. I predict a move away from popularity in 2023. We want things that are finite and rare, that feel special rather than universal. Ignore Emily in Paris on the top of the Netflix homepage. Find a pixelated black-and-white video of ’80s performance art on YouTube and then learn everything about it.
Folu Akinkuotu, Unsnackable
The stress of the last few years has left us estranged from any logical approach to feeding ourselves, forcing us to turn to butter smeared on cutting boards for satisfaction. In 2023, I’m looking forward to food content that helps us approach our kitchens strategically, without pretending four days of identical leftovers are enjoyable. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure meal planning focused on preparing flexible staples like hearty greens, roasted veg, grains, and proteins utilised in multiple ways over the week.
This year also saw the rise of fancy little beverages in all forms. We duped influencer-endorsed cloud smoothies and accepted that the height of luxury is drinking three beverages at once. In 2023, those beverages will taste a little different, as we shift from sugar alternatives to cane sugar beverages formulated to be less sweet. Homemade sodas will also let people showcase their creativity (using homemade or shop-bought syrups made from fruit or herbs) and provide an alternative to alcoholic beverages, as many people look for ways to cut back.
Shawn Reynaldo, First Floor
In a music culture defined by streaming and social media, in which listener choices are infinite and engaging with an artist’s work requires practically zero investment, it’s difficult to see too many positive developments on the horizon. In 2023, expect the increasing professionalisation and poptimisation of even music’s most staunchly “underground” corners, with devotional star worship displacing traditional fandom and artists’ success having much more to do with who they are – or, more importantly, what they represent – than whatever music they make. Everyone is chasing the algorithm now, and feeding it requires content. Expect more fashion shoots, brand collabs, pseudo-heartfelt social media posts, surface-level political sloganeering and blatant appeals to nostalgia, preferably involving songs everyone knows already.
Meecham Meriweather, Now That I Mention It
I am a man of hope. As in, I hope 2023 starts off with an announcement for the Renaissance Act I tour. I hope there are visuals to accompany said tour. I hope Ticketmaster gets their act together so we aren’t waiting in queues for hours at a time, only to be told tickets are gone and the resale prices are £10,000 and, more than anything, I hope Beyoncé continues to bless us with her greatness. Also, I’m begging for the PR relationships to get more interesting. It’s very obvious and baby, we are bored! Imagine how tired I, of all people, am! Most importantly, I’m hoping for Theo James to finally do a movie as a gay character (I know, I know – discourse, but give him a chance!) If you need tips (or more than just the tip) I’m here for you Theo! Also, subscribe to my newsletter bestie.
Michelle Lhooq, Rave New World
We are entering the age of custom drugs – an era of hyper-specificity and optimisation where substances are infinitely “tweaked” from their classic formulations to suit the ever-elastic market of human needs. Weed is the perfect prototype for this phenomenon: from sleep to sex, there are now specific strains for every moment. Shrooms are following the same path of commodified wellness: a microdose for every mood. As Big Pharma takes over the psychedelic space, expect patented drugs that riff off the classics but twist them into more productive forms – like an acid trip that only lasts half as long.
On the flipside, I also predict sober groups will become more of a scene – especially in a world where the social stigma of addiction is fading. Rather than seen as badly-lit rooms of stale donuts and sad stories, AA meetings and their kin will be revitalised in the public imagination as rare sites of real community in an era where IRL connection is so fleeting.
Jessica DeFino, The Unpublishable
In 2023, the skincare industry will continue to push consumers further from the purpose of life, AKA being fully present in your one wild and precious human body, with “cyborg skin” – the futuristic follow-up to 2022’s “jello skin” and “glazed donut skin”. Inspired by Metaverse avatars, AI art, and the democratisation of photo-editing software, cyborg skin will seek to flatten any and all signs of life (wrinkles, pimples, pores) into a one-dimensional approximation of perfection: skin with no deviation in tone or texture, finished with a screen-like sheen… perhaps courtesy of more “NASA-backed” skincare devices promising to “optimise” human existence? The look marks a cultural shift from self-objectification (emulating inanimate foodstuffs) to self-mechanisation (emulating humanoid machinery).
Jack Rivlin, The Upshot
Lured by the promises of “coachloads of girls” by permatanned sleazebag owner Silvio Berlusconi, Ronaldo finally finds his happy place at Italian side Monza. When he wins the third tier Europa Conference League, his dwindling fanbase claim this makes him better than Lionel Messi.
Messi joins Inter Miami, and within days owner David Beckham sacks manager Phil Neville and replaces him with his son, Brooklyn.
The Premier League finally blocks a takeover when the Glazers try to sell Man United to the Continuity IRA.
Emma Radacanu and Nick Kyrgios both win Wimbledon and both retire.
Tyson Fury loses his heavyweight title to Oleksandr Usyk and announces his sympathies for Vladimir Putin soon after.