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My Internet: Edith Zimmerman
The comics writer misses weird little blogs.
Every week, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Edith Zimmerman, who writes the beloved comics newsletter Drawing Links, founded the beloved (and sadly departed) websites The Hairpin and Spiralbound, illustrates the beloved recovery newsletter The Small Bow, and created the beloved meme Women Laughing Alone With Salad.
Edith had to cut back on bedtime ASMR videos after the birth of her baby, wonders how Instagram knows her exact fears, and asks her husband Tom to “put on jazz” sometimes at dinner. —Nick
EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I just scrolled through my Twitter likes, and this made me laugh out loud, again:
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: ASMR. Hair brushing, laundry folding, hand massage, tarot reading. I have six or seven accounts I really like. I listen to them while I knit or draw, and it helps me zone out. I used to use them while I fell asleep (is “use” the right word? Hm…), but last year I had a baby, and she’s still in our room and I don’t want to disturb her or wear headphones.
EMBEDDED: Do you use TikTok? What shows up on your For You page?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: No.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Mostly posting comics and seeing what other people are up to. And getting angry at ads. HOW do they know my exact fears?! Half the time I feel mad, half the time I just want to cave and buy the thing in case it makes everything better. I’m kind of joking, but this actually makes me very frustrated; I feel like it’s morally wrong, although I also know it’s nothing new. I have a particular brand I’m the most mad at, and I won’t mention it because it’s probably a “good” brand, but for whatever reason it feels like the most egregious perpetrator of this kind of sweet predation. Like, “Oh, are you afraid about your baby? Here, let us help, btw it is definitely right to be afraid about your baby and here is why but nbd!!!! Just buy our stuff! And all will be well!!!! xoxoxoox”
EMBEDDED: Do you tweet? Why?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Not a lot, it’s too high stakes! Casual tweets are the best—the ones that sound natural—but I’m usually too tense on there to be natural. My tweets are like, “Hello, here. Is. One thing, goodbye.” I tweet like once a month.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Yes, I had a blog post go viral in 2011, and it was one of the greatest highs of my life. After that, I felt like I could die satisfied, knowing I made a joke that a lot of people liked. It felt so good.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: John Mulaney used to follow me on Twitter, but then he seems to have unfollowed everyone. But it was fun to imagine a highly self-flattering scenario that led him to do that. Lol. Otherwise, Roz Chast follows me on Instagram, and that’s a big deal to me.
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: The New York Times.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive trend you see in media right now? What’s one negative trend?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Lots of jokes are still really funny, so that’s good.
EMBEDDED: Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Yes, tons. I subscribe to more than a hundred newsletters, and I pay for a bunch of them. Some favorites are Dearest, The Half Marathoner, Famous People, Evil Witches, The Small Bow (where I do the illustrations), The Ruffian, Nonzero, Oliver Burkeman, Today in Tabs, and Tiny Revolutions.
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Not really, but EconTalk by Russ Roberts and Embodied Meditation by Paige Gilchrist have been favorites over the years. She has the best voice in the world, and he reminds me of my dad.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I’m in a Slack group for contributors to the Why Is This Interesting newsletter, and it’s been an enormous part of my life. It feels like another room of my house at this point.
EMBEDDED: Are you playing any games right now?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I was going to say no, but then I remembered that I spend like two hours a day playing the NYT Spelling Bee. Also Wordle and sometimes the NYT crossword.
EMBEDDED: What’s something you might want to do in the metaverse? What’s something you wouldn’t want to do?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Nothing!
EMBEDDED: What purpose do you see in NFTs?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: None, but there’s probably something.
EMBEDDED: Do you think Web3 will mean a better internet?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: No, although I’m still not sure what it is.
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?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: My friends from high school and I are in a Discord called Friendzone. A few days ago my friend Ada was showing us pictures of a fruit spread she made for an event she hosted. She was talking about how it’s hard to make grapefruit that’s beautifully sliced and accessible for eating, and how she clashed with her partner over it.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I use the 👀 emoji a lot. It’s like a raised eyebrow, or like, “Ohh, hmM! You don’t say!” But more subtle than that. It’s indescribable.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I ask my husband Tom to “put on jazz” sometimes at dinner, because he has good taste.
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?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I don’t, but Tom put me on his Spotify account. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything.
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Probably HBO, although we don’t actually have it. But I want to show our baby Sesame Street, so maybe we’ll get it someday.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I don’t know, maybe Google. Gmail? Probably Gmail. My friend was interviewing at a tech company recently, and they asked her what her favorite “G Suite hack” was. She was like, “The undo button??” She didn’t get the job, but I feel like that’s a legit and good answer.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want that you can’t seem to find anywhere online?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: A bunch of weird, smart, funny blogs that I stay on top of via Google Reader. I know newsletters are supposed to be like blogs again, but I haven’t found them to be quite the same. Blogs felt more connected. I sometimes miss The Hairpin, which is the blog I used to run. I think it was funny and special, with a particular tone, and I haven’t seen anything like it since. Granted I haven’t really looked, and I would probably freak out if I found anything. But still, weird little blogs where lots of people spend time. I miss those. I miss running one of those! Tempted to delete this, because I probably just have my head in the sand, but I’ll leave it in.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: I don’t. However I do sell greeting cards on Etsy.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: No… That GIF with the guy slamming his face into the keyboard comes to mind, but just as a joke.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
EDITH ZIMMERMAN: Finding out that someone wrote an erotica about the Microsoft Word paperclip—“Conquered by Clippy.”