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Politically Fueled Merch Is All the Rage on The Viral List

Gen Z buying out all the USPS products, this “VOTE” necklace is fueling a surge in sales for this jewelry brand, students are sharing their back to school challenges on social, and one influencer mansion had their power cut off after—plus more stories and youth news you shouldn’t miss this week…

Gen Z Is Buying All the USPS Merch

Gen Z isn’t new to trolling their enemies as a form of digital activism, and now they’re organizing to try to save the USPS. Young people are rallying support for the institution through fancams, memes, and merch shopping. According to the USPS, they’ve recently experienced “significantly higher stamp sales” on their ecommerce site. The spike in sales is attributed to the combination of news articles and trending hashtags like #SaveUSPS and #SaveThePostOffice, which have garnered millions of views. According to Google Trends, searches for “USPS merch” has been up 900% in the last month—and of course, Gen Z is being credited for that boost. TikTok and Twitter users have been creating “hype” for the merch store as well as general awareness through fancams and memes. Some have even been using Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” to advocate for them. Much of their merch, including a crop top that has been described as ‘90s Clip Art-inspired and “extremely Vetements” in its aesthetic. Gen Z favorite musician Taylor Swift spoke out against the “calculated dismantling” of the USPS in a tweet that received 769.7K likes and 176.7K comments and retweets

Everyone Wants Michelle Obama’s “Vote” Necklace 

USPS doesn’t have the only politically-inspired items going viral this week. During the first day of the Democratic National Convention, former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a passionate and inspiring speech about the importance of  votingand the jewelry she was donning garnered a lot of interest from viewers. Her gold necklace, which spelled out the words “VOTE,” was instantly noticed by social media. Some Twitter users were even urging Joe Biden’s campaign to start selling them. Of course, it didn’t take long before the boutique responsible for making the necklaces soon saw a surge in sales. According to ByChari founder Chari Cuthbert, twelve hours after the speech, sales of the necklace (which costs $300) “skyrocketed” and were already “hovering” near 2,000 orders. Cuthbert has been designing custom pieces since 2012 mostly through word of mouth, social media, and a “handful” of A-list influencers and celebrities who support her work—but the VOTE necklace could catapult her to even bigger things.

Students Are Spilling the Back to School Tea 

It’s officially back to school already, and this year is definitely looking a lot different. Despite the initial (and current) uncertainty of what the academic year is expected to look like for grade schools and colleges, some have opted to continue with remote learning for the whole term, while others have chosen to go back in-person fully or a hybrid schedule of just a few times a week. YPulse’s Gen Z’s Education Interrupted report found that students were excited to go back to school in-person, though many are still fearful of the virus. But now some are sharing their experiences—the hashtag #backtoschool on TikTok has 2.5 billion views— and spilling tea about the reality of attending school during a pandemic. At New York University, quarantined students are supposed to be receiving three free meals per day during the period that they quarantine before going back to campus for the semester and are reporting that they’re getting “Fyre Fest”-type offerings  (while still paying their $74,000 a year tuition). In one video that accumulated 1.5 million views, TikTok user @tongaronga shared that her “Vegan” dinner consisted of only a granola bar, a cookie, and a single lemon. She told BuzzFeed News that she knows of vegan students who have received “steak salads” in their deliveries. In another video, user @zeinab.ym claimed NYU didn’t deliver her first meal until noon, while user @nautica.n said she didn’t receive any meals until 6 p.m., when all three meals arrived at once including one that had cereal with no milk and a “watermelon salad.” Many other students have been using the hashtag #NYU on TikTok to share their meals. Meanwhile, over at the University of Georgia, students on TikTok are claiming that they’re paying the full semester’s meal plan and going to cafeterias for their food only to be welcomed by “noticeable smaller” portion sizes and a decline in food quality. And at a Georgia high school, students posted photos of crowded hallways that went viral at the beginning of August, and have been massively reshared across various social platform. A week later, a few students and faculty members tested positive for COVID-19 (though it remains unclear if they caught it from being at the school). Twitter user @freeyourmindkid shared in a tweet (that got 150.8K likes) that he was “informed” that the students sharing photos have been suspended. However, not everything is bad news: at a different high school in Georgia, teachers and cheerleading coaches Callie Evans and Audri Williams shared a rap to the beat of song of the summer “What’s Poppin” on Instagram about virtual learning and the effects of the pandemic, and the music video (full of masked students) has garnered thousands of likes and comments in just two days. 

Influencers Haven’t Stopped Partying During the Pandemic & LA Has Had Enough

At the start of the pandemic, influencers were receiving backlash for fleeing their cities amid the outbreak and last month, we told you about YouTubers and TikTokers were being called out for partying during the pandemic. While some have apologized and promised to “do better,” others— like the infamous Logan Paul as well as TikTok stars Bryce Hall, Noah Beck, and Blake Grey—have continued to throw and attend large parties despite the pleas and criticisms. In recent weeks, some influencers have attributed the party lifestyle to being a “part of their job.” But now their home city has had enough. Earlier this week, Los Angeles cut the power at a mansion in Hollywood Hills rented by Hall, Beck, and Grey where attendees were celebrating Hall’s 21st birthday after neighbors called in with noise complaints. Several users on social media had shared footage from a separate party (like a tweet from user @defnoodles that received 2.3 million views) hosted by Hall in Encio showing “dozens” of partygoers crowded together in a room. In a tweet that received 29.8K likes, Mayor Eric Garetti confirmed that he did indeed authorize and cut the power at Hall’s residence in Hollywood Hills to “stop the large parties held there in flagrant violence of [the] public health orders.” Whether cut power will stop the partying remains to be seen.

Links We’re Passing: 

From long-distance movie nights to delivering gifts, the pandemic isn’t stopping couples on TikTok from sharing their #DateNight.  

Move aside, Cottagecore, Cluttercore is the latest trend on TikTok for messy people. 

BTS’ first English single just “crushed” YouTube’s premiere viewing record. 

Billie Eilish performed her latest song at the DNC while urging young people to “vote like our lives depend on it.” 

TikTok is challenging former Disney Channel stars to recreate their “iconic” wand commercials. 

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion gave away $1 million for “women empowerment” during a Twitter #WAPParty.