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My Internet: Emily Kirkpatrick
The I <3 Mess writer is embarrassingly committed to the Daily Mail sidebar.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, by Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.
Most weeks, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Emily Kirkpatrick, the writer of I <3 Mess, a sharp and hilarious newsletter about the best of the worst celebrity fashion. Emily has held onto her cryptocurrency since 2015, wishes the internet would tell her everybody’s real net worth and exactly how much they’re getting paid, and will forever love a good clip of somebody eating shit. —Nick
EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I was raised on America’s Funniest Home Videos and Grape Lady falls, so I will forever love a good clip of somebody eating shit. And thanks to that snowstorm in Seattle over Christmas my TikTok FYP has been flooded with videos of people wiping out and crawling down ice-covered streets on their hands and knees while cars Tokyo drift through the city.
EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Aside from the aforementioned slapstick comedy routines, a surplus of tarot card readers whose algorithmic vise grip I can’t seem to escape despite having never actually expressed any interest in their content. There was a point during the pandemic where my FYP felt scarily specific to me and me alone and then at some point over the past year it’s like it flipped and became incredibly vague all over again.
EMBEDDED: Has your Twitter experience changed since Elon Musk took over? What would it take for you to quit?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I know it’s impossible, but it feels like he’s already made it a much more annoying place than it used to be? I truly loathe this new view counter. Not only is it a totally useless metric for almost everyone on that platform, but even worse it’s just straight-up hideous design. I also feel like I am seeing none of my friends’ tweets, they’re seeing none of mine, and instead we’re all just getting a barrage of Wendy’s ads starring Real Housewife Lisa Barlow. I assume in some galaxy brain-ed ploy to convince us to pay for Twitter Blue. In general, I find Elon’s desperation to be popular to be very, very palpable on that platform. But even so, I’m not sure there’s anything that would make me quit it aside from full-blown doxxing.
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: No, I’m not sure there is an alternative or that it’s even necessary to find one. I’ve just been coping with Twitter’s slow collapse by alternating between tormenting my friends by texting them all the things I normally would have tweeted and practicing the lost art of keeping my dumb thoughts to myself for once.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Mostly to foster a semblance of control over my social media presence. That and for my mother to have an outlet where she can DM me Reels nonstop since I no longer use Facebook. I just got a puppy though so I can feel myself slipping into becoming one of those annoying people who posts pictures of their cute pet nonstop.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: After a decade of barely ever going on there, 2022 was really a YouTube consumption renaissance for me. I watch this guy Ethan Klein who goes by H3H3 pretty religiously and thanks to him I am now deep in all the YouTube creator lore and drama and I’m loving every minute of it. I am a professional gossipmonger and his show has opened my eyes to all the truly incredible YouTube scammers and criminals out there grifting their fans on the daily. Ethan also self-identifies as a “hater-ass bitch,” and as a fellow hater-ass bitch, his content really resonates with me.
I also watch everything Trixie and Katya have ever made on repeat. I frequently just let old episodes of UNHhhh autoplay in the background while I work. And I’m always available to go down a 90s/00s music video K-hole with my friends.
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Yeah, I’ve had several posts go viral on Twitter and I always find the experience to be extremely random, a little embarrassing, and more often than not pretty annoying. Once, it also almost lost me my job, although that actually turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my career.
Going viral is always fun at first when it’s just your mutuals responding and the jokes in the quote retweets are actually hilarious. Then, at some point, all viral tweets seem to hit a threshold where it starts reaching people it never should’ve reached and you are suddenly inundated with replies repeating the same old joke, missing the point entirely, or just straight up being rude for no reason. But that’s also why the mute button exists.
And that said, my corner of the internet is usually a pretty good time. It helps that I’m speaking almost exclusively to an audience of girls, gays, and theys and I never really post photos of myself so my reply guys are pretty much nonexistent—a small miracle for an account my size.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Probably Tara Reid. It used to be Steve Harvey and Paris Hilton, but they unfollowed. No hard feelings though, I get it, I’m a lot.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: There’s so many, but I think Rian Phin (thatadult) and MJ Corey (Kardashian Kolloquium) are certified geniuses. I am so envious of their minds. They both inspire me to get back into reading theory and philosophy again and apply it to the work I do. I learn so much from them everyday and they bring this level of academic discourse to fashion and pop culture that I’ve always felt was missing and wish was applied more rigorously by the media to help explain to the general public how these systems actually operate.
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Well, I recently wrote a whole essay for The Cut about why I think Julia Fox is incredible at the internet and an absolute joy to follow. But other than that, I think Doja Cat is excellent on all platforms for very similar reasons. Flea and Heidi Montag also have some of the best tweets I’ve ever read in my life. I think their genius lies in their willingness to use the platform like a 2007 Facebook status update.
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Google. I am a prolific Googler. I am da Vinci and a well-crafted google search word combo is my canvas. If you can even vaguely describe an object you once saw, I can not only figure out who makes it but where you can purchase it today. This is both my gift and my enormous curse to my bank account.
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I don’t know, sometimes it seems to just enter my brain by osmosis. I read the New York Times and Axios morning newsletters for big picture stuff. I’m always looking around at other websites for stories to pick up when I’m on the clock at Vanity Fair which is how I learn about most pop culture news. And I know they’re deplorable, but I’m also embarrassingly committed to scrolling the Daily Mail sidebar because it’s the only place you can find every single picture of a vaguely famous person that’s ever been taken.
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite Substack or other independent newsletters?
and I say this as someone who has already read and is deeply familiar with every piece of gossip she’s writing about. She just has this incredible ability to succinctly and hilariously summarize what’s going on while also tying it into a bigger context. I aspire to such brevity and humor.
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I’m obsessed with Allie Jones’s newsletter
I also love Shelby Lorman’s Please Clap which is like an extension of her Instagram account Awards For Good Boys. She only sends out one email every month or so, but it is always well worth the wait to see how she skewers today’s internet Discourse. And I’m a longtime reader of Samantha Irby’s newsletter, which is predominately just her summarizing random episodes of Judge Mathis which is exactly what I never knew I needed in my life.
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite media company newsletters?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I don’t really love a media company newsletter. The ones I’m subscribed to feel more like a box I need to check off rather than something I actually enjoy consuming. However, I did recently sign up for New York magazine’s Are U Coming? by Brock Colyar which is very fun. It’s a first-person nightlife dispatch that’s like getting to be the coolest club-hopping 21-year-old in New York all from the comfort of my 30s on my couch.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I think one positive thing is that digital media is slowly starting to realize that readers want strong personalities and points of view in the writing they consume, not just more of these trite shoppable lists and generic blog posts.
That said, the overarching negative trend for me is the great homogenization of all entertainment websites in the endless pursuit of higher traffic numbers. I’ve worked for a ton of different outlets over the years and, at the end of the day, it feels like they all just want to repackage the same nothing celebrity stories in an attempt to trick as many people as possible into clicking through instead of figuring out how to cater to their own specific niche of readers.
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I used to be an enormous consumer of podcasts, but I fell out of the habit hard back in 2020 and I’ve just never really picked it up again. I’ll still occasionally dip back in though, especially for Who? Weekly and Baby Geniuses. I usually listen to them as background noise while I’m writing or on long walks around the neighborhood.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Do you miss it?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I’m happy to report that I’ve never snapped in my life. I am a preposterously slow adopter of new social media platforms and I never felt like I was really in the right age category for Snapchat anyway. Today, someone being an avid Snapchat user is, to me, a telltale sign that I’m either speaking to an actual youth or that a dude on a dating app is a total creeper.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: The only time Pinterest and I ever really come face to face is when I’m searching for an obscure fashion show reference or product shot. That tends to be where those things all live. But I have two very cool friends who recently showed me their Pinterest accounts and they are so gloriously weird yet tasteful and well-organized that it’s making me reconsider everything. I never really thought of myself as a vision board girlie, but with the slow demise of Twitter maybe this is the year I finally become a Pinfluencer?!
EMBEDDED: Are you familiar with any recent Tumblr memes or trends? Which ones?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Much like Snapchat, Tumblr culture also completely passed me by, although it seems very cool and funny from what little I’ve gleaned of it. The only thing I’ve ever used Tumblr for is as a resource for cool photos back in like 2014 when I was bored to tears working as an intern in various magazine’s fashion closets.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Discord, Slack, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: The only group I’m in like that is the Discord for my own newsletter. I love having that built-in sounding board of like-minded people and getting to hear all their perspectives on the subjects I cover.
EMBEDDED: Are you playing any games right now?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Just psychological ones.
EMBEDDED: Do you have any predictions for cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and/or Web3?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I feel like I don’t know enough about any of those things to be making predictions about them, but I’ve had a little bit of money in crypto since like 2015. Every year everyone I know tries to talk me into selling it, but I feel like every time crypto goes through these big boom and bust cycles more and more people learn about it and get interested in the idea. So I don’t really see it ever going away completely at this point, but I’ve also accepted that this is just a weird form of gambling and I could very well lose it all at any moment.
I think the metaverse as a gag is hilarious. But considering Zuck can’t even give us legs in there, I don’t really see it catching on anytime soon. And I still don’t know what Web3 is but I think I’m ok not knowing.
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI text and art generators? What most concerns you?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: What excites me the most is actually the fashion it’s been generating. It’s REALLY good. Like some of the most interesting and provocative stuff I’ve seen in ages and better than 90 percent of what’s actually coming down the runways from major designers.
What concerns me the most about it is everything really. It’s become pretty clear that the people in charge of these types of new innovations never actually take a moment to consider all the horrific and discriminatory ways their technology will immediately be applied. Plus, if you aren’t absolutely terrified of deep fakes and their potential weaponization, then you’re crazy.
EMBEDDED: What’s your most-used messaging app?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: iMessage
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?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: The Emilys (me and my friend Emily needed to jointly address a non-Emily friend of ours), Tall Girl - A Netflix Movie (shout out to all my fellow lady giants), and The Washington Olympics (a bachelorette trip to Seattle that took place during the summer Olympics).
My friend and I recently got into a fight about buoyancy. There was a question as to whether or not a plastic bucket would float in a particular scenario and things got very heated very fast.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Lately, it’s been that saluting emoji. I can’t really explain it, it just works in so many situations. I’ll often use it when I want to express a sentiment like, “not only do I agree with that statement, but I will go to war to defend your right to say it!” I’m also a big fan of the !! emphasis on iMessages. It means nothing and everything all at once.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I would love to be a voice notes person, but it gives me a little bit of anxiety. I feel like when I do it I start talking and then forget to keep listening to what I’m actually saying. Maybe I just need more practice. I do, however, feel great about receiving them.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I’ve been specifically obsessed with September’s “Cry For You” and Janet Jackson’s All For You for months now, but I usually listen to stuff more like Isaiah Rashad and Young Thug (free slime).
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?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I pay for Spotify and I fought against doing it for a long time. I just felt weirdly committed to the idea of actually owning my own music in some format. But obviously I’m streaming right along with everybody else now. That said, I did recently find my old iPod and I’ve been very tempted to boot it back up again and make it my primary listening device.
The last time I bought a cassette tape was in 2018 when two of my friends made a mixtape for the label Bunny Jr.
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep one streaming service for TV and/or movies, which would it be, and why?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I guess it would be HBO Max because I feel like I could get by on just watching The Sopranos for the rest of my life.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Zillow. I love seeing how other people are living.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: Wikipedia. You can’t beat it. And the fact that you can temporarily edit in funny little jokes? Iconic.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want but can’t seem to find anywhere online?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I want to know everybody’s real net worth and exactly how much they’re getting paid.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: eBay, Etsy, and The RealReal are all in my constant rotation. For Christmas, I bought my dad a vintage money clip that already had his initials on it off eBay. I recently bought a bunch of little stick-on magnets from Etsy because I use them to turn the tiny grocery store products that come in 5-Surprise Mini Brands balls into refrigerator magnets. And I am forever trying to offload all my old clothes on The RealReal and they are forever sending them right back to me.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: I recently read No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood. It’s eerily good at capturing the feeling of being online. To understand a lot of the jokes and references she’s making also implicates you as being exactly the type of overly-online person she’s poking fun at. It’s great.
And it wasn’t about the internet specifically, but I recently read that n+1 article Why Is Everything So Ugly? and I thought it really nicely summed up a growing feeling I’ve had for years now about the general state of corporatized design. It’s very depressing, but nice to know that at least we can all recognize that we’re being gaslit by this non-aesthetic.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
EMILY KIRKPATRICK: This teeny tiny waffle maker.