My Internet: John Paul Brammer
The ¡Hola Papi! writer's favorite celebrity online is Pope Francis.
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 John Paul Brammer, whose beloved advice column,, he originally launched on Grindr and now publishes on Substack. The author of ¡Hola Papi! How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, he is currently at work on a graphic novel. John Paul doesn’t have TikTok and never will, feels like a Latina in STEM when he uses YouTube mp3 converters, and loves playing back his own voice memos to hear what it must be like to be his friend. —Nick
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EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Lydia Tár avoiding a multi-car pileup.
EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I don’t have TikTok and never will.
EMBEDDED: Has your Twitter experience changed since Elon Musk took over? What would it take for you to quit?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: It’s definitely worse. It feels like Twitter is a mangy animal with rabies shambling around a public park, foaming at the mouth, having periodic spasms, and waiting to die. But it hasn’t yet. I will never leave Twitter. My account will be buried with it.
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: No.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: My Instagram is mostly a graveyard for Hinge matches. We add each other there and occasionally send each other flame emojis. It’s my flirt app. I should consider posting my art there, but I really don’t feel like it.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I watch way too much stuff on YouTube. I’m working on a graphic novel, which requires hour after hour of isolation, so I often just have YouTube going in the background. I watch a lot of video essays about films, educational Spanish language videos, art tutorials, Drag Race reviews, and Super Smash Bros sets. Sometimes I just let YouTube do its own thing and take me wherever. Right now, it thinks I want deep Star Wars lore, which I don’t, really, but I’m taking it in. General Grievous has a way sadder life than I thought.
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I’ve gone viral a few times, most of which have been on Twitter. I now know to immediately mute the post and ignore it. Going viral isn’t good. It brings absolute lunatics to your lawn, and no amount of shouting will get them off your lawn. It will just attract more of them. The best situation is getting solid numbers on a niche tweet that brings in a few more readers. Everything else, be it silence or going viral, sucks.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I think posting online is inherently cringe. I’m going to go with my mom, because she’s cool and rarely posts.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Joyce Carol Oates.
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I’m going to go with Pope Francis. Very earnest tweets about Catholicism. It’s kind of nice to see someone using Twitter the way it was originally conceived to be used. Everyone I know is irony-poisoned, but the Pope is just sort of like, “Welcome to Lent, everyone.”
EMBEDDED: How has using LinkedIn benefitted you, if at all?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Oh, absolutely not. I don’t think it ever has, either. I’m sure some people get something out of it.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Do you miss it?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Oh, absolutely not. The last time I had Snapchat was a few years ago, because this closeted guy from Grindr would only send face pics through Snapchat. Other than that, I haven’t used it at all. I like the logo though. I like that it’s a ghost.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I’ve never used Pinterest, but I have a renewed interest in becoming a Pinterest person. I really want to buy a house within the next year or so, and I want to use it to moodboard out some decor.
EMBEDDED: Do you have an opinion about Tumblr?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I am a former child of Tumblr. I think it was very instructional for navigating the internet for me. People were having fights on Tumblr in 2012 that mirror the ones the entire media industry is reckoning with today.
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source? Have you tried AI-powered search on Bing or elsewhere?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I don’t think Bing is real. I mostly use Google, but Reddit is great when my question is more about vibes than about facts. Reddit is great if you’re more curious about questions of etiquette or if you’re torn about which color of headphones to buy.
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI text and art generators? What most concerns you?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I’m really unsure how to feel. AI is a scary frontier that I feel ill equipped to approach, because I’m self-taught in everything I do, and what I do feels so old-fashioned in a way. I’m horrible with technology. Google Docs is the extent of what I’m comfortable with, well, that, and my iPad and Apple Pencil. I’ve heard artists’ concerns over their work being ripped off, and I support them. As an artist myself, I’m especially anxious about losing gigs to AI. I’ve made banner images for The Washington Post and Hearst, for example. It takes me days to accomplish what a computer can in seconds. On the other hand, there are aspects of making art that would be made easier with computers. Sometimes I need a super specific reference of, say, a head tilted just so, and if AI can make things like that happen, I’d probably use it. I’m quite torn, and everything I’ve read about the future of AI sounds like a frightening science fiction novel.
EMBEDDED: Do you have any predictions for cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and/or Web3?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: These things, to me, feel new, but aren’t really. People have always tinkered with new ways of doing things, and those burgeoning arenas have always been fertile grounds for scams and plots precisely because they haven’t been regulated yet and they aren’t widely understood. I don’t expect these things to go away any time soon, but I also wouldn’t bank on their long-term success. They could be supplanted with something even newer, or, indeed, they could become so standard that we won’t even remember what it was like without them. As for me, I’m just bobbing on the waves. I’m sure I’ll know when I get there.
EMBEDDED: Are you currently playing any games on your computer or phone?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I play way too much Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
EMBEDDED: What’s your most-used messaging app?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Grindr. I kid, I kid. I mean, it’s iMessages, then Twitter DMs. Does Twitter count?
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?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I am in a group chat with my besties called Folxlore. The most recent message in it is one of us buying a new hat that says “Here Comes Mr. Slut.”
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I use the salute emoji all the time. It’s so funny to me. I’m not even sure what it means. It feels like he’s about to drown on the Titanic.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Oh I love receiving them. I give them a bit less, but when I do, it means I care a lot or I’m giving top secret information. I love listening to my own voice memo back and hearing what it must be like to be my friend. I’m a very normal person.
EMBEDDED: Do you pay for a music streaming service, and if so, which one? When was the last time you bought a music download or vinyl record, CD, or tape?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I use Apple Music, not because I think it’s the superior service, but because I’m a pretty simple person and I thought, “This is the one that’s built into my phone. I use my phone a lot, so this makes sense.” I imagine I would have a fine experience on Spotify. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a physical record or CD, but I do use YouTube mp3 converters at times, and it makes me feel like a Latina in STEM.
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep one streaming service for TV and/or movies, which would it be, and why?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Oh goodness, don’t force me to say the Criterion app. I’m supposed to be a man of the people.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Seamless.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: Hmmm… I do a lot of deep dives on YouTuber drama. I have no idea who these people are, but I know everything about their demise. I know there’s a “drama community” on YouTube and they spend a lot of time making videos about each other and I am in that vortex.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want but can’t seem to find anywhere online?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: I’m not sure, but I’m sick of seeing shirtless men, even though that’s what the algorithm correctly assumes I want to see.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: No, but Instagram Ads fully have my number and it’s scaring me. They know exactly what I want and I have to not give in.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
JOHN PAUL BRAMMER: The claymation Ice Spice video
Thanks John Paul! Subscribe to his newsletter, buy his book, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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