My Internet: Hua Hsu

New York's most with-it intellectual tries to keep one step ahead of the algorithms.

Welcome to Embedded, your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, published Monday through Friday by Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci. “Get Embedded” on Twitter and Instagram. 🧩

It's Friday, which means we're back with My Internet, our weekly feature in which we quiz an extremely cool “extremely online” person on their social media and streaming habits to get their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.

Today we welcome New Yorker staff writer, Vassar associate professor, zine-maker, and author of the forthcoming memoir Stay True Hua Hsu, New York's most with-it intellectual. Hua is into the web’s uncut gems: YouTube grime tributes to footballers, comments on Discogs, historical miscellany on eBay, and one kind and generous Facebook group. Nick

Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?

lots of pictures of old things in my closet/desk/"personal archives," with occasional self-promotion. every now and then my kid asks me to film him doing an unboxing video.

What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?

old music/subculture documentaries, and new grime/drill tributes to footballers around the world. I'll just look up random players and see if, like, some irish rapper has recorded a freestyle about them. 

Do you use TikTok?

I don't use it, but I watch a lot of good ones that my friend andy from trust studios shares on his ig.

Do you ever tweet? Why?

I'll occasionally tweet when I've written something I'm desperate for people to read. but I don't use it as much as I once did. I have nothing to say.

Who's the coolest person who follows you?

luc sante

Who's someone you know you should unfollow but can't seem to?

I was scrolling through ig trying to figure out the answer to this, and chet hanks went live, so probably chet hanks.

Is there a podcast you're currently obsessed with? How and when do you usually listen?

I go for a walk every friday morning for health and peace of mind, and to listen to the new episode of 'diversity hire.' I also try and stay up on 'stadio, 'time to say goodbye,' and the bbc's 'soul music.'

Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence?

jason momoa posts these incredibly charming videos whenever he buys records at cosmos records in toronto. he has surprisingly good taste and he's so genuinely geeked that people in the comments rarely mind that aquaman basically comes through every few weeks and cleans out the shop.

Are you regularly in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook? What are they about?

I hate facebook but I'm basically still there because I'm part of this record buying/trading/selling group that's somehow overrun by kind, generous people.

Are you a gamer? What are you playing right now, and what's your longest session been?

I only play Football Manager. I can probably zone out for an hour and a half before I realize I should be doing something else. but in terms of duration, I once managed to play 25 years into the future (not in one sitting).

Do you have a go-to emoji? What does it mean to you?

I'll use any or all, randomly and out of context, mostly as a placeholder for "I am reacting!"

Do you text people voice notes?

I started doing this recently when a close friend was in the hospital tending to his terminally ill father. it felt less intrusive than calling and more personal than texting. it was nice to feel like I could be "there" in some form.

What's your best group chat?

the one where we've spent most of it just trying to figure out where/when to get dinner.

What's the most specific or niche Spotify (or other music streaming platform) playlist that you like?

"Asian New Wave"

Who topped your Spotify Wrapped last year?

no idea

Do you ever comment on or reply to posts?

no but I love reading them on youtube and discogs

Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?

I use eBay a lot. my most recent purchases include a snapshot of two Asian kids circa 1963, a collection of 90s "alternative rock" press kits, 50 issues of The Face magazine, and some oddball husband-wife synth record recommended by the Facebook group up above.

What's one thing you do online only because you have to for work, and one thing you do strictly for fun?

check my email, ignore my email

What's the worst thing about the internet in 2021? How about the best thing?

the internet used to be more random. there was no map, it was just a series of weird turns and detours, pages you discovered by accident. search engines / optimization (among other things) changed that. so it's less the content I can't find, but a relationship to that content. I think it's why I still spend a lot of time on ebay and youtube. you can actually outpace the algorithms (to some extent) and sift through a kind of historical miscellany.

Thanks Hua! Buy his book, A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific, and look out for his forthcoming memoir, Stay True; check out his zines; read his New Yorker pieces; and find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Recommended in this post Grime and drill tributes to footballers on YouTube; the podcasts Diversity Hire, Stadio, Time to Say Goodbye, and Soul Music; videos of Jason Momoa shopping at Cosmos Records on Instagram; the game Football Manager; comments on YouTube and Discogs; eBay; and ignoring your email.

Read last week’s My Internet with Alicia Kennedy.