My Internet: Darian Symoné Harvin
The BEAUTY IRL writer makes sure she gets paid for her contributions to online culture.
Every Friday, we quiz a very cool “very online” person to get their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Darian Symoné Harvin, a reporter who “covers beauty at the intersection of politics x pop culture” and writes the newsletter BEAUTY IRL. Darian listens to DJs on Twitch, logs into Tumblr when she’s feeling emo, and—after years of running social accounts for media companies—has refined her strategy for how she wants to show up on social media, on her terms. —Nick
What's a recent meme or other post that cracked you up?
I have no idea who made this, but it looks like a meme made by a Twitter stan account. I found it tapping through my friend Taj Rani Chrisp’s Instagram story. The genius and cleverness of other folks online truly feeds me soul and makes me happy 😂
Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?
I would say that I don’t have one! I have tried and tried and found that it doesn’t work for me, and thankfully I don’t need one. As a reporter people follow me for my standalone posts on news and my recent stories (and selfies lol). In addition, I recently deleted my entire IG feed, except for a few photos that represent the direction I feel that my career and personal life are going. One thing about running social accounts for other media orgs the majority of my career, I didn’t have the brain space to truly focus on my own identity online. I now have a more refined idea and strategy for how I want to show up on social media, on my terms. So I am giving myself permission to do so! Archiving my entire IG feed was freeing. Also, you may have read about the strategy of clearing an entire feed.
What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?
I am obsessed with YouTube. I watch a lot of makeup tutorials. I don’t have a favorite person or go-to, I watch everything.
I love watching Aliya Janell on YouTube. She’s a choreographer and has totally exposed me to the world of dance!
She has a special essence about her that shines through the screen. She is an amazing example of someone who created a digital world for themselves to thrive, and I admire that.
I also appreciate Colin and Samir. I view them as a news outlets for creators, not about them. Huge difference. And I love their interview skills.
Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?
TikTok is changing our society. I am interested to see what it will lead to. I do this weird thing on TikTok where I like very few posts because I am constantly trying to trick the algo into showing me more than what I “like.” It’s a strategy I am always refining, but it was advice given to me by my friend Sarissa Thrower, who is a communications lead at Instagram. Still, TikTok mostly shows me hair and beauty content made by Black women, and also just people saying insane things. That is the only way I know how to describe it. Also, TikTok shows me a lot of cannabis enthusiasts, such as myself.
Do you ever tweet? Why?
Yes, and I was reminded of a simple fact when Facebook (IG, WhatsApp, etc.) shut down: “We” are all still on Twitter. Sure, it’s the media folks and those whose jobs require them to be, but the conversation truly starts on Twitter. I think that’s their tag line or something. And all of my smartest IRL friends randomly still use Twitter which is a good indication of its relevance to me—even if we never speak on it.
Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
Yes. On February 13th, 2019 I posted a photo of myself in front of the Mona Lisa and asked other Black women to join me. It took off. On Tuesday, November 2 I put an NFT behind this tweet and set up a 48 hour auction. I think it has the potential to help everyday folks understand what NFTs are truly about: the ability to say that you own something that is not only valuable to you, but that we all collectively see and understand the value of. To this day, Black women still add their photos to this thread. It holds stories. I am proud of my little thread that turned into a mini-movement about feeling seen and heard!
Are you a fan of any NFT art or artists? Do you have strong feelings about blockchain tech or cryptocurrencies?
Yes, but I think my angle is more through the lens of someone who has been making content and adding value to the internet as a social media editor and writer for a long time. I have never been fairly compensated for my contribution to online culture, and to me, NFTs represent an opportunity to empower myself. I want to make more of the content I want to see in the world, based on my experiences and contributions. And I want to get paid for it. I deserve that opportunity, especially because these roles have put me in a position to recognize what readers and followers actually want to read and listen to. I do not live in a glass house.
Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
Dani Fernandez. I found her on Twitter, but she is an actor and writer for Netflix, HBO and Sony. And also a comedian?! Unclear. She is a comedian to me. But she is also vulnerable. I love her slightly chaotic online presence. It shows that she is a real human!
Do you ever comment on or reply to posts? Which platforms? Why?
Yes. Instagram. And this is when being verified on that platform becomes annoying. Oftentimes, I love to hype people I know personally (or don’t know) in the comments. But because I am verified my comments rise to the top, and I think it positions my comments as performative. I want to comment under Cardi B’s thirst trap in peace! I post my praises anyway because I still think it’s worth it to support people, but it is something I think about. Ha!
Where do you tend to get your news?
Push notifications, and I receive them all because I like to see how different outlets frame the same news. NYT (they mess up—wrong links, facts—too often), BuzzFeed News (conversational tone), AP (a staple), Fox News (wild, weird and pitiful), and Yahoo News (they have a great local news push feature), to name a few. I also used to work at BuzzFeed News as a curation editor, so I used to send push alerts.
What's your favorite non-social media app?
The Flo app. I have been more invested in my holistic health, and this app has become crucial.
Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
One of my favorite episodes is their interview with Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry.
Do you have an opinion on Clubhouse or its clones, like Twitter Spaces?
Although Clubhouse is not perfect (there are many product features I like more on Twitter Spaces), they were the “first” and that holds a lot of power.
When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
I love Pinterest. I think many of the features they have added around the ability to find and search images and inspiration from folks who look like you are pretty cool.
Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
I still use Tumblr. Sometimes, when I’m feeling sad or emo, I will go and scroll through pics. I also use Pinterest and Tumblr very similarly: to find visual inspiration.
Are you playing any games right now? Do you watch any gamers live stream on Twitch or another platform?
How excited—or apprehensive—are you about the metaverse?
I’m scared, but I’m also not in control. So, I am here for the ride and just hoping I can make it all work for me while still maintaining my mental health.
Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
Always on the go matched with wearing long nails means I am the queen of voice notes. In addition, I feel that I am a speaker. Oftentimes when I prepare to write a story, I voicenote myself speaking on the main point I want to get across and transcribe it. I find that I articulate my point better when I am speaking, or in conversation with others. So with voice notes, my friends can hear my inflection, and I like that.
What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
Right now I’m using 💔. I want to switch up the meaning of it to no longer mean heartbreak. I want it to mean, “My heart is open and I’m feeling all the feelings.” LOL. I tweeted about it.
What's a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve streamed a lot lately?
Well, I go through phases. I have songs I listen to back-to-back for a while, then move on. So I create these playlists I call “season.” To name a few: Baby Rose’s “In Your Arms,” Tems and Brent Faiyaz’s “Found,” So Icy Boyz’s “Rolling Loud,” Nipsey Hussle and Swizz Beats’ “Been Down” and Adele’s “Hello.” It’s a mix of old and new songs that are more a reflection of my mood.
I listen to a lot of rap, r&b, electric/techno, disco, funk, old school jams. I also like to explore popular music from other cultures. Right now I am learning more about dembow through Dominican rapper Tokischa.
Here is one playlist I have on repeat.
Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?
Yes. I need someone to build a following on TikTok rating the restaurants in luxury department stores across the U.S. Would watch.
What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?
Being very fervent and adamant about designing a life that is more exciting IRL than it looks online. This practice has kept me happy.
What's the worst thing about the internet in 2021? How about the best thing?
We are all looking for a way to cope with the past few years and I find it manifests through trauma bonding on Twitter. That is the worst. The best has been the evolution of the celebrity, and watching that definition of what makes a celebrity change.
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