My Internet: Jason Diamond
The GQ writer seeks to amuse himself online.
Every Friday, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Jason Diamond, a writer who contributes to many publications including the New York family, Town & Country, and GQ, where he coined the terms “Bistro Vibes” and “hot hirsute summer,” and has written about how Francis Ford Coppola taught him to dress like a big guy. He also has a similarly fresh and approachable newsletter, The Melt.
Jason is in a group chat that was recently taken over by dudes in the Bronx and Coney Island texting about condiments at bodegas and restaurants, posts Instagram pics of Ray Winstone sunbathing, and doesn’t consider himself a fan of “the news.” —Nick
EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
JASON DIAMOND: I don't know if it counts as a meme, but whenever somebody shares another one of those “For Pride Month I've teamed with...” tweets I can't stop laughing. When people find any way to make fun of corporate culture, especially when it's corporations or organizations that are pretending to be “woke” then I'm all in.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
JASON DIAMOND: A lot of professional wrestling videos. I like the ones where it's some British guy talking about stuff like “The 10 times wrestlers broke kayfabe” or “25 times the WWE was really racist.” I also watch a lot of old videos of Michael Jordan and also I'm always fascinated with old PBS-type documentaries from the '80s that aren't good enough to put on a streaming platform.
EMBEDDED: Do you use TikTok? What shows up on your For You page?
JASON DIAMOND: I do. I've posted twice. A video of my cat being weird and another of me eating a sandwich. I think I'm going to use it a little more but I don't see myself taking it too seriously. My wife has this hack she's used so all she sees are videos of dogs and I'm really trying to make that happen, but I also want to make sure I don't miss videos by Annie Korzen. She's incredible. I read this Gawker thing recently about how she's not a fan of Ocean Vuong's work. I like Vuong, but I love knowing there's an 80-something actress who was part of the Seinfeld cast out there reading new fiction and poetry and having thoughts on it.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
JASON DIAMOND: I've been wondering that a lot lately because I've really gotten into sort of a rhythm with it. I really like sharing stuff, and it's a nice way to be like “Hey, here's this random picture of Mel Brooks” or posting a book I like or something. It's basically my cabinet of curiosities. I think it's a nice way to show people what I'm interested in and maybe they're interested in it or want to. That's really a nice way to meet people, but I also find it's a nice way to make stupid jokes like when it's too hot and I post a picture of Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast outside sunbathing. I used to have this S.J. Perelman quote about how "The main obligation is to amuse yourself" on my Tumblr and maybe also my Pinterest and that's how I look at everything, really.
EMBEDDED: Do you tweet? Why?
JASON DIAMOND: Hell yeah I tweet! (Sorry, that probably doesn't read as funny as me saying it in an accent like some guy in a Western.) I think about this a lot and even though we all love to kvetch about Twitter, it basically fills the same function as message boards and AOL chatrooms did when I was a teen. I like connecting and communicating. I like having a place where I can sort of say whatever dumb shit I'm feeling or thinking or reading and people might react. I purposely try to not say much that will have negative reactions because the last thing I want to do is get into an argument with some dude who has 103 followers over the fact that I don't like a certain kind of mustard or because I agree with the views of a certain political candidate or disagree with another. I'm fine discussing or debating in real life, but people sometimes think they're really making a change RTing some dummy with a bad opinion and adding some sick insult, but I'd rather not give morons the time of day. I've been really into muting and even blocking and it has made the experience so much better.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
JASON DIAMOND: I'd say a few times. Maybe a few times a month. I don't know what going viral is these days, but I have a few tweets get a few thousand likes or RTs or whatever every month. Usually it's fun for an hour, but then it gets weird. Pretty much anything of mine that's ever been popular on Twitter is when I'm either trying to be funny or I'm being sarcastic and some people get that, but then there will always be people that don't. That's understandable given the platform, but sometimes it will be some guy who wants to debate me or somebody who mentions their phd in their bio basically turning something I said as a joke into something serious and it's like, man, I've really learned something from you schooling me with your knowledge. Thank you, great and brilliant sage.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
JASON DIAMOND: You're trying to set me up to get in trouble by not saying my wife, aren't you? Besides her, I'd say I pretty much enjoy anything Kristen Arnett tweets. She's a genius. I like Dave Schilling on IG and Twitter, but that's sort of cheating because I think he and I share a lot of similar interests and sensibilities so I'm showing how vain I am. Justin Miller is an editor at New York and I really like his IG because he's a really good photographer just for fun. I like a few very niche meme accounts like Jewcellectuals, especially then they post something style adjacent. Nolita Dirtbag is also hilarious and some of the best commentary on NYC right now.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
JASON DIAMOND: I talk to people. But for things like “world news” and events, the standard places: the Times, Twitter. I do enjoy reading the NYC tabloids in the morning. I'd call it a guilty pleasure but I don't know what I'm guilty of. I read as much as I can on a daily basis but I don't consider myself a fan of “the news” besides what I feel like I need to know. The news has been and always will be pretty bad and I try not to get too deep into it.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive trend you see in media right now? What's one negative trend?
JASON DIAMOND: I think people are fed up. I don't know if I'd call that positive, but I think it's better than being complacent. But I also see a lot of one-upmanship that I find really weird. I mentioned this earlier, but there are so many people who make these incredibly bad faith arguments that I don't really believe are published because people care about healthy debate, and then people will amplify those bad faith arguments into the world. I don't know why and I don't think it's wise. I saw a lot of it with Trump. He's sort of the biggest example of this, but also plenty of politicians know this works now, where they'll say something incredibly dumb or terrible and people will RT it into the world and help spread it. I don't know how helpful that is.
EMBEDDED: What does “cancel culture” mean to you?
JASON DIAMOND: Not much, honestly. It's like when people kept using the term “hipster” in the aughts. A few people used it, then a bunch of people glommed onto it and now it's just laughable when people say it. To me, if somebody does something really bad and they are in a position of power then they should be held accountable. I think a lot about how if there's a guy who works in a grocery store and he gets fired for sexually harassing co-workers and then tries to say “This is cancel culture!” that he'd probably get laughed out of the room. Some person with a Twitter following does the same thing and suddenly it's a conversation? That person has been canceled? That's always a little weird to me. But also, I will say that the internet has really made it very easy to join a mob and just pile on somebody and that sucks, or the situation is totally misread and then it just becomes a whole big thing when there was no reason for it.
EMBEDDED: Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
JASON DIAMOND: I love Blackbird Spyplane. I just love the way they write about things. It's probably very insider-y for people not into style and design and stuff, but I think that's what makes it fun. Sort of a play on language. You have to dig a little to understand and I think they've done a great job of using the “No editors/no rules” thing that Substack sometimes catches flack for.
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
JASON DIAMOND: Oh yeah. I love You Must Remember This. I live and die by the new seasons. I also love Throwing Fits. Those guys crack me up. I can't stand people my parents' age talking about Bob Dylan but I'm obsessed with the Jokermen podcast. My friends do podcasts I truly love: The Maris Review and Good One are favorites.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?
JASON DIAMOND: Nah. I still like to call it “The Snapchat” like I'm 65.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
JASON DIAMOND: I do it pretty often, honestly. It's a really great place for weird stuff like old European movie posters and random pictures from 1960s men's magazines.
EMBEDDED: Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
JASON DIAMOND: Tumblr. Yeah. It felt really innocent in a weird way. It was a nice way for people to find other people who were into things they liked but also learn and see new stuff. I liked a lot of stuff on Vine and liked that it wasn't as massive as TikTok, but I think it's a case of Vine ran so TikTok could fly.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
JASON DIAMOND: I will never tell! Mwahahaha.
EMBEDDED: Are you playing any games right now?
JASON DIAMOND: My wife calls NBA 2K my “dollies.” I like sports games but especially basketball.
EMBEDDED: What’s something you might want to do in the metaverse? What’s something you wouldn't want to do?
JASON DIAMOND: I'm not trying to sound like Ron Swanson here, but I'd rather just go outside and read a book. The metaverse sounds very creepy to me.
EMBEDDED: What purpose do you see in NFTs?
JASON DIAMOND: It's so hard to say because it's very easy to mock it and it does seem incredibly overdone already. But I do believe that anything that people have a massive financial interest in will always have a shot at sticking around somehow or another. I personally don't understand NFTs or their appeal, but I also like to collect old books and watches and records. We all have our thing and if you say you're into NFTs then more power to you. Just please don't corner me and tell me why I should get into them. I'm good, bro.
EMBEDDED: Do you think Web3 will mean a better internet?
JASON DIAMOND: It's so hard to answer that sort of question because I've been on the internet most of my life. So, in theory, maybe? But also I know people will complain and nobody will be happy with everything and I will probably be like “I like the old internet!” like how I complain when Google or Twitter moves a button or gets rid of a feature.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
JASON DIAMOND: I don't send them, Whenever one pops up I'll go “Goddammit [insert friend's name here, although it's almost always Isaac Fitzgerald]” but then I'll listen and I'll smile because I do like hearing a friend's voice.
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?
JASON DIAMOND: I have a few. One is Real Pugs Only, the other is Disgruntled Chicago Fans and the other is this one group chat that has gotten sort of wild because people I don't know have gotten into it and it's like dudes in the Bronx and Jersey and Coney Island and all over texting about the condiment situation at places like bodegas and certain restaurants. There was a really spirited conversation about how a lot of places that serve oysters have tried to get “too fucking fancy” with the toppings and I agreed with that. I just need lemon, hot sauce, ketchup, the pickled scallions and I'm good. I also have a group text with my friends Jami and Maris that usually starts around 8 in the morning and it's sort of like having coffee with my friends.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
JASON DIAMOND: I'll be honest and say the poop. But I also like the face squinting its eyes shut and sticking out its tongue like “Bleeeeh.” I feel that way all the time.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
JASON DIAMOND: So I'm incredibly all over the place when it comes to music and have no good answer to this. I swear I'm not trying to be coy when I say that, it's just I'm very like “Right now I want to listen to Graceland” and then ten minutes later it's D'Angelo and then it could be Japanese City Pop. I'm really all over the place, but lately I've been into super vibey stuff, like this musician named Molly Lewis who does a lot of whistling. She sounds very mid-century exotica. I also have been making a lot of ongoing playlists to pass the time and one I like is “Florida Keys Pirate Radio,” which is basically just me imagining I'm running a pirate radio station in the Keys after I've flipped out and given up on writing. So a lot of '60s reggae, "Goodbye Stranger" by Supertramp, Sade, '70s country songs about ramblin, Christian-era Bob Dylan, and, of course, Jimmy Buffett.
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?
JASON DIAMOND: I just switched from Spotify to Apple Music this week and I love letting people know that. And yeah. I buy a few vinyl records a month. I love buying one and then telling the person I'm buying it from “I just love how everything sounds on vinyl, you know?” so I can see their reaction. Sometimes I'll also pull out a “Man, it's so crazy this is back, you know?”
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
JASON DIAMOND: Man, this is my FMK. Netflix has Seinfeld, Disney has The Simpsons and HBO Max has The Sopranos and Larry Sanders. I guess I'd go with HBO Max, mostly because they constantly have good new stuff coming out.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
JASON DIAMOND: There's this app Numero Records put out a few years back that's just all field recordings from the '60s and '70s. It's called Environments. It's very chill and I'm just really into chill. I also toy around with different meditation apps to help me with my personal practice.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
JASON DIAMOND: I don't know if this is basic, but I love that I can go to the Poetry Foundation at any time of the day and just read poetry. That's pretty nice. I also really love getting grilling tips online. I'm really into that. Some guy on the South Side of Chicago or from somewhere in Alabama I probably never want to go to explaining the perfect way to smoke a brisket or ribs is really nice. I like seeing people showing off their interests and sharing things.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?
JASON DIAMOND: I wish every publication had their back issues available online. I can find lots of stuff, but sometimes I'm like “Rolling Stone, just do an archive website!” Or old, defunct publications like Manhattan Inc. or old newspaper copies of The Observer would be fun to read.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?
JASON DIAMOND: eBay and Grailed mostly. I buy a ton of stuff off those sites. I just picked up a bunch of short-sleeve patchwork shirts off Grailed that I'm obsessed with.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
JASON DIAMOND: I learn a lot reading Taylor Lorenz and following her IG stories. She catches way too much shit from the Right and it's wild, but I don't think I'd understand anything going on on the internet if I didn't pay attention to her. I always read Gideon Lewis-Kraus and found his recent piece in The New Yorker, “How Harmful Is Social Media?” to be really interesting. Also, I generally always appreciate seeing what Amanda Mull, Emily Gould, Ashley Ford, Rachel Syme, Jaya Saxena, Lincoln Michel and Dodai Stewart are tweeting or writing or posting. There are others. I'm sorry I'm a dick and forgot to mention you. Also, I'm too lazy to link all those people so please, if you're reading this, go seek them out if you don't already follow them or read them or whatever you do.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
JASON DIAMOND: Whenever a new Pamela Paul op-ed drops. God, what a feeling!
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