Contemplating 30 on the internet
The betrayal of growing up extremely online only to watch the internet outgrow you.
I’m not 30. Yet. But today I wrote about how the upcoming milestone is making me rethink where I spend time on the internet. —Kate
Like every other 28-year-old, I’m thinking about turning 30. You can only hear so many platitudes about the milestone being a construct and to ignore the pressure to hit certain goals before it’s like, well, now I have no choice but to think about this. And it’s especially relevant for me now, in the context of the internet, having spent the quarantine on TikTok.
“You’re almost 30,” my boyfriend shades whenever I attempt a TikTok dance or throw around a distinctly Gen Z phrase.
I’m under no illusion that I’m in TikTok’s main demographic, although obviously that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy (and talk to!) some of the app’s coolest creators. But I grew up on the internet. I wrote fanfiction and had Tumblr friends and have been religiously watching YouTubers since 2007. Now, somehow, I’m on the outside looking online.
This became clear when I was listening to Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart’s new mini-podcast, How Ya Been? For anyone who was on YouTube in the early 2010s, it’s a true delight. The veteran creators (virtually) reunite with some of the staples of that time: iJustine, Franchesca Ramsey, Louise Pentland, Hank Green. They’re all still content creators, at least in some sense—Hank Green co-founded VidCon and is getting his second wind on TikTok—but the purpose of the podcast is to reminisce about the good old days. It’s a great listen, but I refuse to surrender to nostalgia when it comes to the internet.
If you’re over 25, you’re already aging out of the most buzzed-about creators’ core demographics. The same goes for the creators themselves, who often retire or at the least lose steam when they hit 30.
I’ve found myself looking for creators over 30 who aren’t still on the internet, but getting their starts on the other side of that mythical milestone. Brittany Bathgate, for instance. She had a longtime fashion presence on Instagram but began vlogging regularly for the first time during quarantine, and has more than tripled her subscribers since May 2020. Or Tabitha Brown, whose vegan food recipes and infectious good humor on TikTok landed her a show on Ellen Degeneres’s digital network last year.
But my list is not long! Reply or email us if you have any recommendations or pockets of the internet you love that don’t make you feel like a reluctant older sibling, but instead, part of a new chapter.