extremely online

How Online Were You in April?

From Bud Light bullies to DIY water.

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Videos: chelseajordyn, kylieraeallen, shelbyhobbs2001, snooopyiscool

TikTok’s “April theory” posits that this is the month when the year really starts. So welcome to the real 2023: Taylor Swift is single, and Kid Rock is blowing up cans of Bud Light.

Last month, celebrities collided spectacularly with their internet fandoms, resulting in wildly different outcomes. While an 18-year-old is getting famous from the failures of her favorite artist, Swifties are throwing themselves at the altar of Cornelia Street. But for those with a more refined palate, April served up plenty of niche dramas as well — from a customer’s multicolor-cake complaint to the detainment of a beloved Snoopy artist.

We all have our own internet diets, so we’ve organized the weirdest and most talked-about morsels from all corners of April’s internet by points. The nicher an internet moment you recognize, the more points you earn. Add them all up and see where you fall on this month’s digital spectrum at the bottom of the page.


+1 Point

Headline-making culture news or online moments that were so universal that even someone who still uses a Hotmail account would be aware of them.


Bud Lightning rod

Dylan Mulvaney, a creator who has earned close to 11 million followers on TikTok for documenting her transition over the past year, partnered with Bud Light on April 1 to promote March Madness. But the real madness happened afterward, when a bunch of people with stars-and-stripes clip art as their profile pictures lost their minds at the existence of a single sponsored Instagram post by a trans person, which they felt tarnished the otherwise unimpeachable reputation of Bud Light’s clientele. The marketing move was denounced by politicians like Ron DeSantis and pop culture figures like Kid Rock — who gave money to Bud Light so he could post a video of himself shooting what appears to be at least five cases of it. Checkmate, libs!

Why it’s a 1: This controversy resulted in a 17 percent sales drop, two executives placed on leave, and a remarkably unimpressive statement from Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth. It’s occurring during an extremely perilous moment for trans rights, as states like Tennessee are banning gender-affirming care for trans youth and codifying biological sex, seemingly in an effort to preclude trans Tennesseans from nondiscrimination protections. But sure, it’s the “woke” beer — but apparently not this one or this one or this one — that’s the problem.


Chronically online Barbie

On April 4, the second teaser trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie dropped, followed by a marketing campaign so viral that it’s easy to forget it contains absolutely no information about the plot of this film. Instead, people online used the Barbie Selfie Generator as a vehicle to imagine their own favorite characters in the Barbie universe, substituting everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow on trial to the Roy children on Succession for Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling).

Why it’s a 1: More than just a retelling of the Mattel IP, Gerwig’s Barbie honors the lore that’s ingrained in the subconscious of all ’80s and ’90s kids. The moment that pointed toe stepped out of its high heel while retaining its shape, something awoke Cordyceps style in users across social media. Even brands couldn’t ruin the joke, although they certainly tried.


+2 Points

You can bring these stories up at the family dinner table, but they would require a backstory and a minor glossary of terms before everyone’s on the same page.


Riverdale revenge


Finallg. The third Sprouse brother speaks his truth. @jackmartin

♬ original sound - planbriuncut

Cole Sprouse dooooop. On April 10, Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart, who’d dated Sprouse on and off for three years, was photographed kissing TikTok star Jack Martin. The best way to describe Martin’s TikTok presence is just “guy.” But what makes this news juicy is that Martin had parodied Sprouse’s infamous Call Her Daddy podcast appearance weeks prior. I must know: Was it the impression that won her over? Or was Martin already getting tips straight from the source?

Why it’s a 2: Reinhart is one of a handful of cast members who regularly TikToks from the Riverdale set. The fact that Hollywood actors are now online enough to be dating TikTok stars should give hope to the thousands of other floppy-haired men on the app. When your ex’s claim to fame is acting in a scene like this, any rebound — even a TikTok star — is an improvement.


Swift(ie) denial


It came out like five days ago. Youre all delusional

♬ Sweet Nothing - Taylor Swift

Speaking of men with swooshy hair I couldn’t pick out of a lineup at gunpoint, Joe Alwyn and Taylor Swift broke up. Read that back slowly, because apparently it’s something a lot of Swifties are having trouble believing. Almost immediately after the news broke — first on Entertainment Tonight, then People — fans were denying it on social media, claiming the headlines were being made up for clicks and insisting that they wouldn’t believe it unless Swift announced it herself. In the meantime, they were happy to believe sourceless tweets claiming what they did want to hear. Also, Alwyn has been hiding in The Brutalist co-star Emma Laird’s Instagram dump, and Swift is ringing in her 1989 era on the streets of New York City with Haim.

Why it’s a 2: The Swift-Alwyn split completely upends the careful post-Reputation homeostasis the singer had achieved. Perhaps this is why fans were so reluctant to accept what her recent pap walks all but confirm as fact: she’s single as hell. But, speaking as a Swiftie, things had become a bit too calm in her life — so much so that the singer had to make up people to write about. No offense to Betty, but it’s time for Swift’s scream-from-the-heart autobiographical ballads.


Blond moment

At one point, it seemed like nobody would get to see Frank Ocean’s Coachella set. The musician began his April 16 performance an hour late — only to end it abruptly after 80 minutes. Amid the turmoil, which reportedly included a fractured ankle and melted ice rink, a previously promised official livestream was nixed. So 18-year-old Morgan Lee stepped in.

After waiting for a total of 14 hours — first for the Coachella doors to open, then in front of the venue barricade — Lee had a front-row seat to share with up to 130,000 livestream viewers. Her service catapulted her to online fame. She now has 40,000 Instagram followers (before Coachella, she says she had around 6,000) and her own sub-Reddit, and she has started releasing YouTube videos — including a Coachella vlog. Olivia Jade who?

Why it’s a 2: When Frank Ocean went on to cancel his performance during Coachella’s second weekend, Lee’s selfless act of streaming secured her icon status in the community, laying the groundwork for the aspiring musician to become a star in her own right (and one we know will show up on time).


+3 Points

Insular online-community-news events or temporary main characters who get plucked by the algorithm and placed all over our feeds for a few days before receding back into the shadows. Think West Elm Caleb.


Takes on a plane

Twitter will never die as long as there’s airplane etiquette to debate, and this month served up not one but two aviation discourses. The first was started by Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass, who tagged United in a tweet on April 16 to complain that a flight attendant had requested — nay, “made” — his 22-weeks-pregnant wife pick up the popcorn mess their 2-year-old daughter had made. The tweet managed to make the left and right equally mad for their own different reasons — a feat only ever achieved, well, two days earlier by the CEO of Anheuser-Busch.

Two days later, a video on TikTok of a man (I’ll say it: relatably) blowing a fuse, because a baby had been crying for 40 minutes on his flight, kicked off such a conversation in the parenting community that it spilled over to Twitter, where everyone already knew what tweets like this one were referring to. Luckily, people like author Derecka Purnell offered up an antidote.

Why it’s a 3: This was not the first time airplane discourse has graced social media nor will it be the last — probably not even of this year. “Rude people on airplanes” is up there with “gifted kids” and “tipping” when it comes to topics sure to rile people up online — no matter how recently we just had the same debates.


Water Watergate

Juice, but give it a weird, almost sinister MLM vibe. That’s the best way I can describe the “water” trend taking over TikTok, which will glom on to your algorithm like toilet paper to the sole of a shoe. In one of the trend’s most liked videos posted on April 5, @shelbyhobbs2001 mixes Skittles Strawberry Starfruit flavoring with Pineapple Passionfruit using a milk frother, of all things, and pours the water over ice. To finish it off, she adds two pumps of Jordan’s Skinny Mixes Passionfruit Hibiscus Margarita Mix and sips this yassified glucose tablet out of a 64-ounce Stanley water cup. The video comes with a photosensitivity warning, and that’s not a joke.

I had two conditions for conducting my own flavored-water experiment: 1) I had to pick the most chaotic combination I could find, and 2) they had to be available at one of two grocery stores within walking distance from my apartment. I landed on cherry-flavored Kool-Aid liquid drops, Crystal Light lemonade, and grape Crystal Light that has added caffeine.

I knew that using a full packet of each would send me into a coma, so I opted for a drop of cherry, a quarter of the lemon packet, and half of the grape. I concocted this potion in a regular cup and snapped a picture for my group chat — and was quickly scolded.

“That glass is way too small,” my friend replied. “Needs to be like a quart and 90% ice.”

I frantically searched my cabinets for a larger vessel, landing on my trusty Love Island water bottle, and emptied the last of my ice cubes into it — along with the water mix. Verdict: Surprisingly refreshing. Not horrible. It’s how I imagine a Pez dispenser feels.

Why it’s a 3: WaterTok is weird, but it’s not unprecedented. The flavored-iced-coffee-making videos of 2021 and Utah “dirty sodas” of 2022 have simply been replaced with a new trend that cuts out the pesky middleman getting in the way of all the sugar. By 2025, TikTok users will be mixing straight syrup with Fun Dip dust, and more power to them.


Sold a Lemon

Cable news feels like the internet’s boomer FOIL, so the comings and goings of even the most controversial hosts wouldn’t normally make this list, but then CNN fired anchor Don Lemon, who posted a social-media statement more shocking than the news itself. I legitimately don’t know which piece of Windows 95 software was used to achieve this feat of graphic design and neither could the rest of Twitter — although someone thinks it’s a screenshot of a previously sent iOS Mail message?

Why it’s a 3: CNN may be a top cable-news network, but this statement — which the network later refuted — screams “the Harry Potter fan website I tried to make in 2002 on Dreamweaver.”


+4 Points

Requires a late-night deep dive into the drama going down at a midwestern sorority you have no connection to or an uprising in the Chris Evans fandom — research that will ruin your recommended content for weeks.


Snoopy unleashed

“Were you silent, or were you silenced?” — me to @snooopyiscool, the Canadian high schooler who was grounded for 20 days for being “abysmally bad” at math. The teen first went viral in December, when her older sister made a TikTok about her hobby of making Snoopy videos. Due to popular demand, Snoopy Sister, as she calls herself, began posting them on her own account — until April 4, when her older sister turned PR rep (who has her own viral claim to fame for a boba fish drawing) returned with the update that Snoopy Sister had been grounded and can’t use her phone.

“She says she will be back, but that depends on how she behaves,” the sister explained.

Snoopy Sister’s time offline was not wasted. The artist told Vulture in an interview that, like Shakespeare writing King Lear during the plague, she spent her internet isolation thrifting Snoopy DVDs and drawing physical fan art.

On April 20, she returned triumphantly with a video edit of Snoopy playing the trombone, riding a motorcycle, and surfing on his own head, among other things. “YOU CANT GROUND ME FOREVER IM FREE !!!!!!” she captioned the post.

Why it’s a 4: A spokesperson for Peanuts Worldwide may have told Vulture that Snoopy is currently “in his 72nd year of renaissance,” but as Snoopy Sister herself said, there aren’t that many people out there to talk with about it. “I enjoy talking to my sister more, ’cause she’s close and she gets me,” the teen explained. That is, her sister and her other 474,000 TikTok followers — which include the Malala Fund and Google.


Cake wars

Kylie Rae Allen, the baker behind the Princeton, West Virginia, bakery Kylie Kakes Dessert, shared her “worst client experience so far” in an April 7 TikTok video that has since received more than 7 million views. Allen claims that when a customer came to collect one of the bakery’s signature custom rainbow-layer cakes, she seemed surprised by the decoration and the price ($75.99) and later complained about the business on Facebook. However, after the video started gaining traction, the customer hopped on TikTok herself to post the cake in question, which featured sloppy writing on top of unevenly applied sprinkles. She posted her own version of the cake as proof that she could have made it better.

The drama snowballed from there — and not the Hostess kind, har har. People like Imani Barbarin of @crutches_and_spice received millions of views for their own commentary on the saga, and others combed through Allen’s entire portfolio, accusing her of using stock photos to advertise her decorations and boxed mixes for her cake batter. Now both the customer and Allen have turned off their comments, but plenty of other bakeries are capitalizing on the moment.

Why it’s a 4: Bad-customer stories are to small-business TikTok what airplane discourse is to Twitter. But TikTok is potentially the only place where 7 million people can watch something happen, and yet, the next West Virginian to walk into Allen’s bakery will have no idea that all this occurred.


+5 Points

An incident so layered — one requiring a Fandom-level understanding of multiple niche communities and their lore — that it’s as if you’re speaking a different language when explaining it. For that reason, you likely have no one to talk to about it.



Hi! This is Francesca Stugot! You know, Francesca Stugot? We met at the party. Are you saying you don’t know Francesca Stugot? Because she won’t leave your For You page as soon as you watch one of @oliviaamariee, @giuliannacirrincione, and @kelseym18’s videos. The trio invented a fictional character named Francesca Stugot, voiced by @kelseym18, who calls boys and gaslights them into thinking they’d met her at a recent party. The women began documenting the prank on TikTok as early as March, but the bit took off last month as an IYKYK side of the app. Now Stugot has her own Instagram, unlocking a whole new level of catfishing — and a place to show off the “big boobs, skinny waist” and meal-prepping empire that has all these unsuspecting frat bros in a choke hold.

Why it’s a 5: The name Francesca Stugot means so much more than her character does — she’s now a bit of ineffable TikTok lore. Everyone is committed to taking the character as seriously as her creators do, making videos about Francesca as if she’s a real person and posting impressions that leave outsiders in the comments screaming, “I CANT FIGURE OUT WHO SHE IS.”


Clutching my Magnolia Pearls


ootd ft. Mom on her birthday!! i get all my style from her :) #freepeople #magnoliapearl #ootd #outfit #fyp #mom #birthday #fashion #grwm

♬ original sound - Chelsea

While everyone was busy debating whether “indie sleaze” had returned, a whole new, weird style of clothing snuck in through the back door aided by Texas clothing brand Magnolia Pearl. A video posted by @chelseajordyn shows her mother in what, at first glance, appears to be a DIY Les Mis costume but is, in fact, a $1,000 outfit from Free People. The brand describes its aesthetic as “snippets of fairy tales overlay Huck Finn imagery” and, more pointedly, “Hobo chic,” kicking off a discussion about “povertycore” on TikTok. Why spend $600 on a shredded blouse when you can achieve the same look by getting this for just $58?

Why it’s a 5: While there does appear to be a Magnolia Pearl fanbase, people making content like this — presumably between sips of flavored water sipped out of Ye Olde Water Bottle — which I can’t say is taking the world by storm.

So how online were you this month?

0–15 POINTS: Kinda plugged in.

As someone who falls for every brand’s April Fools’ Day joke, this was a hard month for you. But hey, at least you only thought one of the Barbie poster parodies was real before figuring out it was a meme. As far as you’re concerned, the people talking about flavored water just mean Olipop, but you’re not quite as bad as my sister, who responded, “I didn’t know Taylor Swift was dating someone,” when the breakup news dropped in the group chat.

16–30 POINTS: Above-average online. 

April’s showers were more like sprinkles as you dipped your toe in the TikTok cake drama and did your civic duty by firing off your own contribution to the airplane discourse. You considered going to Cornelia Street to pay your respects but thought better of it.

31–40 POINTS: Irreparably internet-damaged.

Last month kept you very busy. You were one of the 100,000 people watching Morgan Lee’s Coachella livestream, and you know which obscure software Don Lemon wrote his statement on. You’ve already attempted to “Francesca Stugot” several men in your life. They did not fall for it.

How Online Were You in April?