Terrible People is an independent magazine that explores the terrible side of human nature. Their fifth outing sits under the theme of Youth, as described on their front cover – ‘Culture, Society, Youth & Shit’. Its plain white cover is highlighted with these words as well as the main masthead and a thin green line travelling across to the back cover. A set of green fingerprints are placed above ‘issue 5’ and the theme, carrying on the visual style from issue four. Their last issue was based on the theme of Distance, and was released in 2021. The latest edition however was released in summer 2022 and continues their honest, “sarcastic and taunting” journey through current life topics within the Youth space, as noted in their team introduction.
Issue five starts with a range of articles discussing everything from twirling spaghetti in Italy, a baby jumping festival in Spain, ‘Hammam’ in Morocco, wedding prophecies in Taiwan and a career-led ritual in South Korea. These small anecdotes written by different authors help uncover small facts about the countries that may not have been known. Some act (like the Italian fork etiquette piece) as a rulebook for “how to act” in some scenarios, presumably so you don’t become a terrible person. Broadly speaking Terrible People is trying to prevent you from falling into this bracket through helpful hints and engaging insights in the world as we know it (or may not). This refreshing approach to its content makes the magazine as unique as it is interesting.
A piece on Generation Z (young people born between 1997 and 2012) follows from the globetrotting introduction. Its writer Roxy Merrell discusses Gen Z’s fascination over Y2K times (Y2K refers to a hashtag used by Gen Z that relates to a fashion aesthetic of the early 2000’s). “Y2K is a reimagining – not a celebration – of the decade,” Roxy writes. “Gen Z are diving into the archives and cherry-picking elements of 2000s fashion to deck out with a modern twist. They might be bringing noughties styles back from the dead, but in an unexpectedly curated resuscitation.” The piece reminisces into the styles of times gone by but also dives into the idea of recovering that nostalgia as a popular although “cringe” past time.
Writing breaks away into comic format in the piece named ‘Diary of an introvert or how not to deal with anxiety.’ The eight-page scenario based comic story explores an introverted person in various situations. All the short exchanges are similar to that of stories noted online during Covid times, which included the lack of motivation to go outside and socialise, pretending that you’re too busy and spending too long on social media. These themes loosely link to the same social media conversation in the middle of the publication – a blue stapled booklet in A6. It focuses on the relationship we have with our bodies, but notes it as ‘toxic’, an indication of the topic discussion held inside. The small essay by Clara Guillemin dives into cosmetic surgery and the impact of social media on our body image – amongst other references. “Instagram and TikTok actually promote cosmetic surgery,” Clara writes. “Pictures of ‘before-after’ (when it is not during) cosmetic procedures have been normalised since influencers and celebrities have endorsed them.”
"Reality is a key notion across all the articles in Terrible People. It’s cross-examined, turned upside down and as a reader we dive into the deepest crevices of our world, discovering and analysing elements we may not have considered before."
Stuart Williams, Owner of Overleaf
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The essay sparks debate over these common practices, but dives into current opinions, factual news and the darker side of social media to curate a strong piece about a crucial subject. Social media is a commonly referenced topic within Terrible People – with the platforms also referenced in the later article ‘Please Like Me Back’ by Elsa Frigeni. The author casts a retrospective into dating life, and cross-references how communication channels have changed dramatically over the decades. The piece takes on how dating life has changed with the invention of social media, with quite dramatic effect. Elsa notes, “in the glorious 90’s, to have some kind of relationship with someone you had to know their number, where they lived and a lot of details about them.” They go on to describe social media as a “virtual bubble” where reality can blur the lines of real and fake.
Reality is a key notion across all the articles in Terrible People. It’s cross-examined, turned upside down and as a reader we dive into the deepest crevices of our world, discovering and analysing elements we may not have considered before. The tapestry of our reality is punctuated by a lot of the pieces found in the magazine, from social media being a dominant force (for good and for, in absence of a better word, the terrible), to facts about army entry ages across the globe (page 31). There is a lot to uncover within its staple-bound pages, and leaves room for a lot more research. A surprising photo essay from Argentina leaves us wanting more – even the paper stock changes to give the photography a different feel from the rest of the magazine.
‘Smells like teen spirit’ curates a range of photos that questions “What if youth has no expiry date?” – and shows us a set of people – some not fully clothed and some relishing in the beauty of the everyday. Some are candid but some seem to appeal to the camera but there is a notable “carefree vibe” in all the images, as noted by its creator Luthien Escalona. “The sky is the limit,” they go on to write. The set enables us to take a break from the serious topics of body image, anxiety and cancel culture elsewhere in the magazine. Instead, it offers us an outlet to seek the same level of relaxation that is evident in the visuals captured by Escalona. This care-free attitude is also reflected in Terrible People’s new line of postcards named ‘Mean Mail’ – the set of 4 colourful postcards all feature quotes in similar form to the magazine. Postcards include – “‘Nobody cares’, ‘Just don’t be yourself’, ‘You’re not that important’ and ‘I love my phone more.’”