My Internet: Haley Nahman
The Maybe Baby writer was subtweeted by Emily Ratajkowski.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
Most weeks, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Haley Nahman, writer of. With the newsletter, one of Substack’s early breakout successes and an inspiration for a 2020 New Yorker article about the platform, she helped define the contemporary personal essay as a conversation between writer and reader. Haley was once subtweeted by Emily Ratajkowski, thinks searching on TikTok is depraved, and has decided that Instagram lifestyle content is dead. —Nick
If Substack is the media future that you want, you know what to do.
EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
HALEY NAHMAN: I’m going to keep this honest in an MTV Room Raiders sense and share the very last thing I saw and laughed at, which was this TikTok of a guy seeing a brand new New York MTA train, which I laughed at and sent to two friends about three minutes ago.
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EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
HALEY NAHMAN: New York tips and home tours (mostly bad), people singing and playing instruments (sweet), cosmetic procedure breakdowns (depressing), gentle parenting explainers (don’t know how I got on this one), capybaras jumping into water, dogs getting haircuts, cats doing anything, pretty stuff in Japan, vintage resellers and closet cleanouts, exercises for sore backs, cooking/baking content, standup clips, stuff about space.
EMBEDDED: Has your Twitter experience changed since Elon Musk took over? What would it take for you to quit?
HALEY NAHMAN: It’s hard to say without the full benefit of hindsight but so far the biggest change feels like the fact that I see a lot of Elon’s tweets, tweets about Elon, and tweets by that menswear guy. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted enough to fantasize about quitting but I can’t say I’d be devastated if the whole thing imploded. It would be sad to lose the good parts but surely it would be a net gain?
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
HALEY NAHMAN: Going outside
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
HALEY NAHMAN: Memes, persian cats, spying on over-sharers. Almost nothing else, and I’m being so serious. Instagram lifestyle content is dead!
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
HALEY NAHMAN: Probably the closest I’ve gotten is this essay I wrote about Emily Ratajkowski, which got enough play on Twitter that Emrata herself eventually subtweeted me.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source?
HALEY NAHMAN: I’m a Google girl (derogatory), although I have been known to add “reddit” to my Google searches, as one does. Searching on TikTok is depraved!
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
HALEY NAHMAN: It’s surprisingly hard to answer this question because I feel like the news is simply the air these days, lol, by which I suppose I mean Twitter? But I do the NYT/New Yorker/NYMag/Atlantic rounds for headline news and culture stuff, and The Drift/Jacobin/The Intercept/Dissent/The Baffler for takes that resonate with me politically. Love N+1, Paris Review, LRB, and Outside for essays, and Citations Needed for media criticism.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
HALEY NAHMAN: I know this has been discussed a lot now but I do appreciate the deinfluencing trend. Anything that emphasizes the hollowness of overconsumption in an entertaining way feels like a positive shift. As for a negative trend it’s hard to pick a favorite! Maybe our increasing inability to differentiate between depiction and endorsement in art—the exclusive moralizing of content (but never form) feels like an ill portent for expression in general. I also dread the bad-faith push to destigmatize cosmetic procedures.
EMBEDDED: Do you have an opinion about Tumblr?
HALEY NAHMAN: As a former avid Tumblr girl in my college days (2007-2011), my opinion about Tumblr is they really should allow you to reset your password if the email associated with your account ceased to exist because Comcast stopped hosting email. That wasn’t my fault!
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI text and art generators? What most concerns you?
HALEY NAHMAN: My position is pretty neutral. Not to plug my own work but I just published an essay recently about why I don’t feel threatened nor particularly excited about AI.
EMBEDDED: Do any of your group chats have a name that you’re willing to share? What’s something that recently inspired debate in the chat?
HALEY NAHMAN: One of my most active chats is currently called “Electric M’Lady” which is a cross-reference to the iconic Ariana Debose BAFTA rap and the m’lady meme (the image is Ariana in a fedora). Can’t say it has anything to do with the contents of the chat but our most recent debate was over whether the 2006 film Flushed Away was in fact “huge” or whether Gen Z is simply making this up.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
HALEY NAHMAN: Has to be Pocket. Anyone familiar with me is so over me talking about Pocket but it remains my most important and precious resource.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want but can’t seem to find anywhere online?
HALEY NAHMAN: This isn’t remotely visionary but I miss personal blogs when they were smaller, less polished, and felt more like online diaries. I miss following the details of super random people’s inner lives. Is anyone out there still doing that? Send to me if so.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
HALEY NAHMAN: I’m obsessed with Flaco, the Eurasian Eagle Owl that escaped from Central Park Zoo and is flying free around the Central Park North Woods. I’m living for the regular Twitter updates from Flaco obsessives. I would die for Flaco!
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