My Internet: Clarissa Brooks
The writer finds the concept of objectivity lacking.
Every Friday, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Clarissa Brooks, a writer whose recent work includes a feature on Oluwatoyin Salau, a 19-year old activist who was murdered in 2020, and a profile of Gunna. Clarissa goes on Instagram to escape having to feel all-knowing and professional, believes Megan Thee Stallion deserves all the good things in the world, and hopes more people realize objectivity is not real. —Nick
EMBEDDED: What's a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
CLARISSA BROOKS: the quinta brunson “people be gay” meme never ceases to make me laugh because it’s so effective and to the point.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Most of my youtube watching is watching old neo soul performances, lifestyle vloggers that im too dedicated to and watching breaking news in other countries just so I can stay aware of the global context in my own work
EMBEDDED: Do you use TikTok? What shows up on your For You page?
CLARISSA BROOKS: my tiktok obsession has to calm down at some point but my fyp is just workout videos, black content and some very specific beauty content so I can spend money I shouldn’t be.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Instagram is the place where I get to talk to my friends and be cute. I don’t have to be all-knowing or professional. It feels like the only place where I get to be a 26 year old, imperfect and evolving.
EMBEDDED: Do you tweet? Why?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I wanna say its apart of my job as a journalist and editor to tweet and stay aware of the news cycle but its become a place I have to set hard boundaries with. Nowadays I tweet my random distant thoughts or work I’m proud of and log off. So much of my childhood was online and unlearning my relationship to it is an ongoing process.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Sadly i’ve had various posts go viral and i think as my following has grown my capacity for stimulation grows shorter as well. So nowadays I just mute a post once it gets too big and go about my day but I’m good to also just delete it if I feel like it’s entering spaces online that I don’t intend for it to be in.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Gabrielle Union
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Rawiya Kameir
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Solange Knowles always
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
CLARISSA BROOKS: normally from twitter but I watch democracy now every morning to stay aware of global politics.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive trend you see in media right now? What’s one negative trend?
CLARISSA BROOKS: i love seeing people writing things they love.
I hate seeing black journalists and writers move through their work without an analysis on how the media is a tool of white supremacy. It’s been disheartening to see folks unaware of how their work is building trust in the state in ways that are directly harmful to black people. I hope more people realize that objectivity is not real.
EMBEDDED: What does “cancel culture” mean to you?
CLARISSA BROOKS: it means alot and nothing. I know that it ruins peoples lives and it’s built our sense of opposition in ways that are inhumane. I feel like cancel culture is a direct reflection of how a queer organizing strategy of storytelling became a way for identity to be used for and against the systems that be. I am most disgusted at how neo-liberalism can rebirth itself to make our movement turn against us. None of it keeps marginalized folks safe and it often moves us past the margins and simply off the internet.
EMBEDDED: Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I normally listen to podcasts and music every single day. Podcasts are how I shift my news consumption so i listen to various ones throughout the day.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I was very deeply on snapchat in college so 2014-2018 was my golden era.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
CLARISSA BROOKS: a great question, i was on pinterest looking at tattoo ideas just a few weeks ago. Was never able to engage pinterest super deeply though.
EMBEDDED: Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I’d put alot on the line if we could bring back tumblr to its hayday. I really grew up on that platform, alot of my first interactions with words like feminism or slut-shaming came from that site and I really appreciate how it gave me space to grow.
EMBEDDED: Are you playing any games right now?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I’m not but I do miss the fruit ninja obsession I had in high school.
EMBEDDED: What’s something you might want to do in the metaverse? What’s something you wouldn't want to do?
CLARISSA BROOKS: nothing at all. I understand its use and also know that my skepticism of the internet has to keep me sane before I jump into new platforms.
EMBEDDED: What purpose do you see in NFTs?
CLARISSA BROOKS: it sees like a cool way to exploit artists labor and disguise the burning of ethereum for the elite.
EMBEDDED: Do you think Web3 will mean a better internet?
CLARISSA BROOKS: i dont. I do think somewhere good is shifting my trust in the internet. Also, reading moya bailey’s work has really made clear that an internet built on harming black women and femmes isn’t one i can put my full trust in.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
CLARISSA BROOKS: i normally just text my friends but i’ve noticed that as I get deeper into my workday that i’m more likely to send voice notes because texting feels overstimulating by the end of the day.
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?
CLARISSA BROOKS: the worst is “netflix abusers” which is just myself and my best friends. We’ve had it since college because we used to all share our friends netflix account because we couldn’t afford it back in school.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
CLARISSA BROOKS: its just always the nervous side face emoji, to me it’s a good neutral face for any and all things. I kinda stay in the state of cautious anxiety about everything so that emoji that really helps give the feeling I’m trying to convey.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Someone I like made me a playlist based off of a P-Valley scene and it’s truly top tier.
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?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I pay for Apple Music and Spotify. I’ve just started my vinyl collection which i’m very proud of. The last vinyl I bought was Extension of a Man by Donny Hathaway which is one of my favorite things.
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
CLARISSA BROOKS: HBO Max obviously just so I can watch I May Destroy You on repeat non-stop.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Uber Eats gets tooo much of my screentime
EMBEDDED: What's the most basic internet thing that you love?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I love being able to stan over a new song or album with people online. It’s not always as fun these days but leaning into my nerdom is really always the thing i’m craving online. Less performance and more gut wrenching feeling happening by accident.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
CLARISSA BROOKS: I’ve been using ebay sparsely for retro things but I’m mostly using Shop Pay and Paypal for all my purchases.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
CLARISSA BROOKS: Yeah, I try my best to send Jia Tolentino’s appearance on Ezra Klein’s old vox podcast to anyone I know, especially young journalists interested in growing their audience. Her book not only shifted my understanding of the internet but this podcast actually saved me in a very dark time a few years ago. She makes so clear why the internet is bad and how it leverages identity against us in ways that continue to harm marginalized people.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
CLARISSA BROOKS: always clothes and makeup. Self making is something i came to late in my queerness so i feel really soft and new when I get new clothes because i enjoy the project of making myself anew anytime I can.
Anytime the internet comes together to celebrate megan thee stallion throwing ass its a good day. She deserves all the good things in the world.