Ryan is a 6-yar-old boy who likes playing with toys. What makes him different from other 6-year-old boys is that he was just listed as one of Forbes' highest-earning YouTube celebrities. Thanks to his family's Ryan Toys Review channel on the video-sharing site, Ryan brought in about $11 million in pretax income this year simply by opening toys and other products and reviewing them online. This monetized mastery of the "unboxing" phenomenon - what the Verge has described as "a blend of innocent childhood antics and relentless, often overwhelming consumerism" - places Ryan's channel in the No. 8 slot on the Forbes list and definitely the youngest person on the list. Ryan's parents posted his first video in March 2015 after the YouTube-obsessed preschooler wanted to know why he couldn't dish on toys online like other kids. In July of that year, the family experienced its first viral video: Ryan opening a "giant egg surprise" with more than 100 Cars-branded toys. The channel has exploded since, now with over 10 million subscribers and more than 16 million views. His parents say they mainly film on the weekends so it doesn't interfere with their son's schooling and that they pay for all of the toys Ryan reviews. Their channel's "About" section says most of the toys they review end up going to charity. (Forbes)
Social Media is Evil?
Social media was supposed to bring everyone closer together, but a former Facebook exec fears it's doing the exact opposite. Chamath Palihapitiya, the former Facebook VP of user growth said, "I feel tremendous guilt," during an appearance in November at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in a speech just now being widely shared. He added, "I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." Palihapitiya railed against the "short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops" where people spend their hours vying for "hearts, likes, thumbs-up," and he blamed "bad actors" for manipulating online information. There is "no civil discourse, no cooperation," simply "misinformation [and] mistruth." He confessed he now rarely uses the network he helped grow and posted just a handful of times over the past seven years. He says, "It's created huge tension with my friends, huge tensions in my social circles." Palihapitiya isn't completely sure how to take back control of Facebook, which he still said "overwhelmingly does positive good in the world," so he just tries to manage what he can. He did say he doesn't really use social media and doesn't' allow his kids to either. His suggestion for others after this "soul searching"? Take a "hard break" from social media. "If you feed the beast, the beast will destroy you." (New York Post)
Dennis Rodman Knows What North Korea Wants
Dennis Rodman claims to know what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants from the United States-but says he'll only tell is Donald Trump. In Beijing after what he called "a great week of humanitarian work in Guam and Tokyo," Rodman told reporters he still has hopes of brokering a peace between Trump and the man he calls "The Marshal." Rodman says, "I've been trying to tell Donald since day one, "Come talk to me, man ... I'll tell you what the Marshal wants more than anything. It's not even that much.'" While Rodman is coyly staying mum, it's possible the answer is a basketball game. While speaking in Beijing, Rodman said he hopes to put on an exhibition game between North Korea and the US territory of Guam. But Rodman won't be going back to North Korea anytime soon. The US enacted a ban on all travel to the country in September. (Guardian)
Daredevil Idiot Dies Idiotically
Wu Yongning was best known for posting insane videos of himself at the top of tall buildings scaled without safety devices. Then in November the Chinese daredevil suddenly went radio silent and fans wondered what had happened. Now we know. Wu hasn't been posting because he's dead-after falling 62 stories from a building in Changsha during one of his stunts. The South China Morning Post describes the 26-year-old's life-ending act as somewhat selfless, saying Wu was undertaking the "roof topping" challenge in hopes of winning $15,000 in prize money in order to pay for his sick mother's medical treatment, and also to fund a wedding with a woman that his step-uncle says he planned to propose to after the challenge was complete. And the big takeaway here: Don't try this at home. (BBC)
And The Word for 2017 Is..
And the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it's been a big year for the word. In 2017, folks searching for the word feminism increased 70% over 2016 on Merriam-Webster.com and spiked several times after key events. There was the Women's March on Washington in January, along with sister demonstrations around the globe. The "Me Too" movement rose out of Harvey Weinstein's dust, and other "silence breakers" brought down rich and famous men of the media, politics, and entertainment worlds. While the definition has changed over the years, today, Merriam-Webster defines feminism as the "theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes" and "organized activities on behalf of women's rights and interests." (Newser)
Don't Mess Around with The President's Social Security Number
Louisiana private investigator Jordan Hamlett pleaded has pleaded guilty to misusing Donald Trump's Social Security number in repeated attempts to access the president's federal tax information before his election last year. Hamlett, 32, is now facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Authorities have said Hamlett failed in his attempts to get Trump's tax information through a US Department of Education financial aid website. A court document accompanying Hamlett's plea agreement says he used Trump's Social Security number and other personal information to open an online application for federal student aid on Sept. 13, 2016. Defense attorney Michael Fiser had argued Hamlett didn't have any "intent to deceive" and simply tried "out of sheer curiosity" to discover whether Trump's tax information could be accessed through the government website. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, bucking an American tradition honored by every president since Jimmy Carter. (Newser)
What the What?
In Florida, Hillsborough County deputies arrested 45-year-old James Steadman who apparently doesn't know the difference between a men's room and a Steak 'n Shake. According to deputies, Steadman was sitting in a booth inside a Steak 'n Shake in Tampa around 11:40 p.m. when he suddenly stood up, unzipped his pants, exposed his genitals and began urinating on the floor in the dining area of the restaurant. When he was finished, he went back to sleep in the booth. Approximately 30 customers witnessed the incident. HCSO says that Steadman created a health hazard and was endangering the safety of the other customers. He was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. (WKTR)