Letter from the Editor 01.28.2021
On Jojo Siwa, Twitter feeds, and feeling news fatigue all the damn time
Sometimes the internet feels so vast I’m afraid it could swallow me whole.
On Jan. 20, the leftist side of the internet rejoiced as a mitten–clad Bernie Sanders sat down at President Biden’s inauguration, looking like he was fed up with another era of neoliberalism. The day after, a review of Shawn Mendes’ keto–friendly Chipotle bowl took over Twitter feeds, and I was nearly canceled by a gaggle of anonymous stans for saying Mendes, like his bowl, is underwhelming. The day after, Jojo Siwa, the modern–day reincarnation of Hannah Montana, came out as a member of the LGBTQ community. All the while, a large swath of Gen Z was coming to terms with the overdue cancellation of Shane Dawson, a YouTuber who built a following off of Blackface, bestiality, and throwing Trisha Paytas under the bus.
Did what I choose to consume leave me breathless, or is it the churn of the news cycle that creates enough cognitive whiplash to put my brain in a neck brace? Most days, I think I’ve curated a newsfeed that strikes the same tone as an easy listening radio station—a longform interview with an aging actor here, a roundup of TikTok trends there, and the occasional deep dive into Big Tech’s dubious morals.
College turned me into a person whose anxiety is the all–consuming, unpretty kind, so I crave a smooth brain. I read to satisfy that craving, and a steady diet of petty YouTube drama, fashion enterprises, and startup scams has filled me for over a year. Good writing doesn’t always come with existential dread, after all.
But lately it feels like I can’t outrun the inevitable: Trumpism has created a world where even the most frivolous of content must carry the burden of a moral lesson, so my escapes are growing fewer. Can Siwa’s sexuality just be her sexuality, and not a “shining example” of individuality? Can we just never platform creators who attempt to profit off of virtual minstrelsy in the first place? Can I just scroll through Twitter without thinking of what it means to be a person of color scrolling through Twitter?
This edition of Street explores what has become of internet spaces that used to be innocuous. We have an exploration of Clubhouse, an app whose exclusivity has turned it into a breeding ground for cyberbullying, and the virality of the anti–vax movement on social media. We have first years lamenting over being glued to their phones and writers searching for signals in playlists. Mostly, we’ve encapsulated what it looks like to search for relaxation and come up short.
Get 34th Street's newsletter, The Toast, delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning.Newsletters