The internet is forever changing, and so are our relationships with it. From new (and old) social media platforms to the technology we use day to day, for better or worse, our digital lives continue to evolve - and our ‘IRL’ lives are influenced.
With that in mind, we’re launching Screen Time - a new column featuring those who are #ExtremelyOnline, chatting about their internet favourites and habits. To launch, I thought I’d feature one of the most online people I know: me, a geriatric millennial who remembers the pre-internet era but has immersed themselves in it in the years since…
If there’s someone who's digital habits you’d love to hear about, let us know.
What’s your earliest internet memory?
My Aunty was the first in the family to ‘get the internet’, and I remember the afternoon I went over to sit in her spare room to use it for the first time. I searched for photos and stories about the Spice Girls, so it must’ve been 1996/1997.
What sites do you visit regularly/daily? And do you visit them directly or via other means?
My most regularly visited sites are Ensemble and Stuff (duh), and the associated CMS’. That’s followed by NYMag/The Cut (I enter various ways; direct, from social, various newsletters), and the Guardian (the app and site). Then probably Twitter (desktop - I deleted the app off my phone, in a bid to try and wean myself off it but that clearly didn’t work).
How many group chats are you in? What’s the name of the most active or the funniest?
Too many. I get overwhelmed by the various forms of comms I have, over so many platforms, and I blame that for my bad habit of not looking at and replying to Instagram DMs and texts.
I have one active Whatsapp group that transferred over from Instagram. My family stays in touch through a couple of Facebook Messenger groups. I’m in a few Instagram group chats that go through phases of activity; one is called ‘fashion nerds’ (named by me) and another is ‘🌴🕶️ aka shade club’ (not named by me).
Have you ever had a blog?
I had a pretty successful blog during the peak days of blogging, circa 2008. It was called So Much To Tell You, and it was me and my friend, who was living in Sydney at the time, sharing photos and writing about cool things and people we liked. It worked because she was cool and I was twee (very much Ensemble’s ‘intelligence and whimsy’ vibe), and also, we were both great writers. It was very visual, like a blend of Instagram and Tumblr. I look back and am shocked at how easy it was for us to build an international audience and ‘brand’. This was pre-Facebook and Instagram, before you had to spend a gazillion dollars to get anywhere.
The last story/link you shared (and where did you share it)?
I’m a big sharer of links and articles, and I do it regularly on every platform I have: Twitter, Instagram DMs, Slack messages, texts. The last link I sent was to this tweet…
What’s your approach to Instagram?
I’m a sporadic poster, but if I’m honest, a daily/hourly user. I joined in 2012, so was a bit of a late starter - I remember being snobbish about it and those who were pausing lunches and conversations to take photos. But 10 years later it’s like email, just part of my regular daily digital journey. Which grosses me out, but here we are.
It’s love/hate - like everyone else, I hate the ‘new’ Instagram that’s trying to be TikTok, but mostly I’m uncomfortable with the hyper curated perfection and performance that it’s fostered.
Are you on TikTok? What’s on your FYP?
Yes and I love it. I joined on Christmas Day 2019, after a conversation about it with my nephews. But like most people, I really got into it properly early in the pandemic. I like its randomness - it’s not about a perfect #aesthetic photo like Instagram and it’s not about curating a feed. You luck upon genius (although I know the algorithm is not actually random). Although - controversial take - I think Beyonce, the most curated person on the planet, joining TikTok recently is a sign that that rawness is over (that, and the fact that I now get targeted ads from The Warehouse, New World and Big Save Furniture…)
My FYP right now is videos of cats, all things Drag Race, Absolutely Fabulous clips, videos about millennial work culture (I love Rod), and Lady Gaga’s Chromatica tour. I went through a phase of loving the account of this woman in Missouri with a farm and lots of baby goats, but then someone killed her dog and that shattered the soothing illusion.
I’m terrible at posting; it’s mostly videos of my cats over funny sounds. I made one video based on a viral sound, about having a vaguely granola childhood in the ‘80s (the post did not go viral).
What was the last TikTok video you liked?
Do you use Twitter? Why? Why not?
I’m constantly on it - but rarely tweet. I like and retweet. I feel like Twitter’s personality is very sarcastic and darkly funny; people are way more opinionated and unhinged on there compared to say, Instagram. I use it for news and discovering and sharing stories.
What’s your relationship with Facebook?
Purely use it for family, and to access Ensemble’s Facebook page. I went through this manic episode a few years ago where I deleted every single photo and tried to remove every single tagged post/photo of myself - I wanted zero trace. But I couldn't quite remove myself entirely.
Are you on any other platforms, new or old?
I joined Be Real last week and I’m still trying to figure out the point of it.
What about online forums like Reddit - are you a user?
The only time I’ve used Reddit is when I haven’t been able to find the answer via a Twitter search about news or gossip.
Who is the person that follows you that you’re most excited about?
My one flex is that Glossier follows me on Instagram. I don’t know why!
Have you ever made a meme or had a proud viral moment?
The closest thing to going ‘viral’ would have been Ensemble’s Lonely expose being featured on Diet Prada.
Are you interested in the Metaverse?
Anything that Zuckerberg does or launches gets an automatic eye roll from me. I love Eva Chen but even she - and Prada’s involvement - couldn’t win me over with the Metaverse fashion ‘outfits’. I might sound stupid in a few years time when its a key part of our lives, but right now it’s a no from me.
What about NFTs?
I do like the conversations that they spark - who owns art, what is art - but no one has been able to explain NFTs to me in a convincing way and therefore, I think they are borderline a scam.
What is your phone?
I have a white iPhone 11, with a clear phone case. Boring! I have had trendy phones over the years though: the purple Alcatel One Touch Easy, and the pink Motorola Razr which I found at my mum's house recently.
Please share a screenshot of your phone’s home screen
The background is of trees in Tokyo. And I organised/hid my apps into folders in a bid to stop opening them so much; it didn’t work...
Your most used emojis?
But my new favourite is the melting face.
Your YouTube go-to?
I’m not the biggest YouTube user, but I’ll use it to watch music videos - sometimes I’ll go down a rabbit hole of one artist’s entire videography. I also like the Saturday Night Live YouTube archive and will re-watch certain skits or series, like Celebrity Jeopardy and Debbie Downer, and the Barbie brainstorm skit..
What’s the best streaming service and why?
I use them all via my husband’s accounts. I recently subscribed to World of Wonder to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars All Winners season - truly the worst, clunkiest app and service.
Your favourite or most-played Spotify playlist?
Podcasts! There are so many of them. Tell me your thoughts, and favourites… and where and how you listen to them.
I don't do podcasts. I’m probably the only white woman in her 30s to not have listened to The High Low. I know that I sound completely out of touch with this attitude, but I just find the inane chatter of most podcasts incredibly irritating. I’m more of a words and visual girl.
Newsletters are the future, apparently. How many do you subscribe to? And how many do you pay for?
I went through a phase of subscribing to a bunch of Substack newsletters but there are only three or four that I actually regularly read and engage with, like Amy Odell’s Back Row and The Bulletin from The Spinoff.
I rave to everyone I know about I <3 Mess. Emily Kirkpatrick is a wonderful writer (she also writes for Vanity Fair and has a whole ‘free labour’ section on her site collating other platforms that have taken her tweets and turned them into content) and brings intelligence and sarcasm to the celebrity fashion genre. It’s like a worst dressed list, but done with respect. There is a free subscription but answering this question made me finally go and do the monthly paid sub, as Emily’s work absolutely deserves to be supported financially.
‘are you coming?’ by Brock Colyar from The Cut is another newsletter that I go on and on about. It’s about New York nightlife, with Brock going out to an event or party each week and reporting back in brilliant observational detail. You can read their stories on the site but I prefer it in my inbox, like receiving a weekly email from a smart and social friend telling you all about their late night escapades.
I’m desperate to get on the Opulent Tips subscriber list - an invite-only newsletter - but I’ve been too embarrassed by my desperation to DM the writer Rachel Seville Tashjian and try.
Oh! And I enjoy the Wednesday ‘internet culture’ emails from Rebecca Jennings at The Goods.
Do you game? What do you play, and how often?
My immediate reaction is to say no, but that’s incorrect. I downloaded Animal Crossing and played it for about a week then deleted it. I go back to play Candy Crush very randomly, I think maybe when I’m stressed (I’m on level 1943, is that shameful?!). I LOVE The Sims, even though I haven’t played it in years, and I’d be interested in playing that new game where you’re a cat.
How do you shop online? Do you have favourite sites and/or apps?
Uh, yes. A lot. I like Lisa Says Gah, and also scouring for vintage/secondhand designer things on eBay, Trade Me, The Real Real, Vestiaire Collective. I generally do it on my laptop, but have The Real Real and Depop apps on my phone.
What’s your email sign off?
Thanks / Best / Kia pai te rā.
What was the last screenshot you took?
It was of an Instagram Story, where someone shared a classic slab cake.
What was your screen time last week?
It is truly hideously embarrassing, but I blame this on travelling and being in an airport with a delayed flight… My total screen time was 28 hours 55 minutes (!!!), and most of that was spent on social media (aka Instagram and TikTok) and ‘productivity and finance’ (aka email and Slack). Excuse me while I go and throw my phone in the sea.