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This week, I’m starting things off with a look at Brawl Stars. I know the game has been out for ages, but if you’re like I was as of a few days ago, you have no idea what it is. Seems that without our knowledge, this mobile game has become so widely played among young people that an obsession with it is nearly universal.

Meanwhile, putting green onions in coffee and “raw-dogging” plane flights remain much more niche pursuits. Read on to learn all about all of it.

Everyone is playing Brawl Stars, but what is Brawl Stars?

I was talking with my kid the other day about the lack of communal experiences in current culture. I thought I was being wise in pointing out there are no longer as many of those unifying pop culture things like Star Wars or Nirvana that everyone either likes, or is at least is familiar with. He said, “Not true. I can walk up to any kid, anywhere, and say, ‘wanna play Brawl Stars?’ And their phone is coming out.” 

So here’s the deal with Brawl Stars: It’s a cartoonish, multiplayer online battle arena game featuring 3-player teams fighting each other while operating under a bunch of different rule sets. It’s available on both Android and iPhone, and it’s free to play, but you can buy cosmetics upgrades with real money. There are reportedly 376 million registered users (For reference, Nirvana’s Nevermind sold 30 million copies.) Brawl Stars was created by a Finnish company called Supercell and published in 2018. To sum up: It’s Angry Birds, but for now.

What is Man the Game?

Unlike Brawl Stars, Man the Game is not actually a game. Or it wasn’t, until someone made it in into one. The name and concept comes from a “brain rot” meme created by TikToker @alexlussy that explores the nostalgia a person living in 2027 might have for 2025. One of the things they are nostalgic for is a PS5 game called Man the Game. The original poster included box art for both the original game and eventually for the sequels, but offered no details.

Naturally, TikTokers started running with the idea, and people started posting reviews and editorials about the controversy surrounding Man the Game 9, basically creating a fictional mini-universe in which the game exists. It also inspired the creation of an actual point-and-click Man the Game that you can play online. (Spoiler: It’s really stupid.)

So what does it all mean? Nothing really—school’s out, so young people have a lot of time on their hands. But if you want to take a deeper dive, here’s more info.

People are putting onions in coffee and they must be stopped

There’s a new TikTok trend in which people are flavoring iced lattes with green onions. The basic recipe: mix up milk, espresso, ice, and a generous helping of green onions, then drink it all down! (Shudder.)

While scallions add nutritional content to the beverage, taste wise it sounds uniquely unappetizing—but that may be the point. The drink supposedly originated in China, where it’s part of the larger “dark cuisine” trend of combining foods in unusual ways, like blue soda chicken wings. According to this TikToker, dark cuisine is often employed as a way to curb people’s appetites to help them lose weight. Mission accomplished—I’m sure I’d take one sip of onion-coffee and throw the rest in the bin—but if you left the milk and the onions out of the iced coffee to begin with, it would taste great and contain no calories, so I’m not sure the logic works. Either way, I’m not going to try it, but some people on TikTok have given it a shot, and the reviews are mixed. Some people “don’t hate it”, others are like: “I can’t even fake any redeeming qualities. This is horrific.”

Travel trend: Raw-dogging plane flights

It’s hard to say how widespread this TikTok trendlet actually is, but some people are bragging online about “raw-dogging” long plane flights—that is, sitting there with no headphones, no movies, no book, no nothing. They just stare at the flight map and wait. Some even book the middle seat on purpose. 

The aggressive music choices on most of these TikTok videos, coupled with their braggadocios tones, serve up “ain’t I hardcore?” vibes that indicate it might all be a joke, but even so, it’s also an interesting look at the cultural reaction to the ready availability of things meant to distract and entertain us. My first reaction to hearing about this was a blanket “that’s dumb,” but I thought about it a little more, and I’m not sure. Boasting about sitting on a plane and not at least reading a book may seem like a pathetic flex, but there’s been a lot of consideration lately, both online and off, about what we’re actually doing when we’re doing nothing. How do the supposed hits of dopamine we get from video games or social media affect us, and what are we missing when we reach for them at every opportunity?

It might seem like we’re not missing much on an airplane, but the chance to do literally nothing is rare. Before the adoption of seatback entertainment centers, smartphones, and tablets, airplanes used to enforce that on us. You’re alone with just your thoughts, which used to be the default state for almost everyone, almost all the time, but is now something to brag about, give a name to, and, I guess, post about on social media so others don’;t have to be alone with their thoughts. 

Viral video of the week: “I made the worlds most powerful soccer shoe”

This week’s viral video comes to us from YouTuber I Did a Thing, and it’s part of one of my favorite genres of online video: mad engineering. In these videos, people make the kinds of ridiculous inventions you might have daydreamed about in homeroom, like a ceiling fan with machete blades, or an insanely dangerous giant Bey Blade. In this case, I Did a Thing is trying to make the world’s most powerful soccer shoe. His plan is to basically build a gun-shoe that uses blank rounds to force a steel toe to propel a soccer ball faster than anyone could kick it.

It is a potentially deadly project, and it’s probably illegal in many jurisdictions, but I Did a Thing is from Australia and has a delightfully casual style of pursuing the build. He’s not one of those DIY folks who create perfectly engineered gadgets (like the father of the genre, Mark Rober); I Did a Thing makes a ton of mistakes, rarely measures anything, and often injures himself while testing his gadgets. His projects rarely work out the way he planned, and it all usually ends up as a mess, but, damn it, he tries. I relate to his methods and the kludged together monstrosities he creates, as they remind me of too many of my own projects.





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