My Internet: Josh Gondelman

The kind and hilarious author, podcaster, and TV writer-producer aspires to an uncle/aunt vibe online.

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 Josh Gondelman, writer and co-executive producer at Desus & Mero, author of the essay collection Nice Try, host of the podcast Make My Day, and the kindest hilarious person on Twitter. Josh listens to an unconscionable number of NBA podcasts when the Celtics are winning, browses Instagram from his dog’s account, and feels a kinship with the seltzer and roast beef sandwich communities on Facebook. —Nick

PS: We’re taking Monday off for Memorial Day, and hope you can, too. See you Tuesday!

Josh Gondelman
“If someone is happier not being super online, I'm rooting for them the way Ben Affleck wants Matt Damon to move out of their neighborhood in Good Will Hunting.” Photo credit: Mindy Tucker

What's a recent meme that you like?

I really enjoy the way people have used the photo of NYC mayor Bill de Blasio wearing a Nets jersey under his suit jacket as a new take on the Steve Buscemi "How do you do fellow kids?" meme. There's a new older dork in town!

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

If I had to give a name to my aesthetic, I'd call it: "I promise I still exist." It's full of occasional reminders that I have a face and a career and a bunch of sneakers and a dog. And sometimes there are nice pictures of me with my wife.

What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?

I'm a pretty boring and cursory YouTube user. It's a lot of like: "Watch this tv segment from last night!" My single favorite thing on YouTube is the video of Black Thought (from The Roots) freestyling on Funk Flex's radio show. It's about as good as a person can possibly be at a skill. I recommend it!

Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?

My primary relationship to TikTok is that I scroll past TikTok videos that other people have reposted on Twitter or Instagram, and I never have the sound on because I'm usually listening to music or a podcast. So to me it's an app where people do things with impeccable internal rhythm and no background music.

Are there any influencers who you would be sad to see stop posting?

Honestly, there are people who I'd miss if they stopped posting online, but for the most part if someone is happier not being super online, I'm rooting for them the way Ben Affleck wants Matt Damon to move out of their neighborhood in Good Will Hunting.

Do you ever tweet? Why?

I tweet way too much! And I've been trying to figure out why for the past decade!

Which platform do you put the most effort into posting on?

Twitter for sure. Over the past year (until very recently) it's been the closest thing to being around a bunch of people for an event.

Who's the coolest person who follows you?

Can't say for fear of jinxing it!

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

This is such a dangerous question! The only reason I wouldn't unfollow someone is if I know them personally and they'd be upset with me, so I definitely can't say a name here and not even reap the benefits of unfollowing!!! Nice try though!

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

Lately I've been really into Spinsters (a basketball podcast) and What Had Happened Was (where Open Mike Eagle interviews a hip-hop artist about their career over the course of a whole season). Lately I've been listening to podcasts mostly while cooking dinner or folding laundry, but historically my subway commute is prime podcast time for me.

Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What's your favorite?

I subscribe to SO MANY newsletters! I love the idea of having writers I like send new writing directly to my email inbox at regular intervals. There are quite a few that I like, but the most slam dunk recommendation is Unsnackable, which is Folu Akinkuotu's weekly roundup of international snack food she wishes she had access to.

Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?

Not those platforms, specifically, but I miss when people did more bloggy blogging, just about whatever stuff they were interested in rather than takes on things that are big in the news or in culture. I think I get a lot of that kind of satisfaction from newsletters though.

Who's a digital creator more people should know about?

I really like as a place to get smart and well-written takes on the news, and I think more people should subscribe to their site! Maybe a lot of people already do! If so...more than that!

Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence?

I don't follow that many big celebrities, but I really admire the way Jaylen Brown (of the Boston Celtics) balances sharing his activist work with videos of him dunking and stuff.

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

I lurk in this Facebook group that's only for reviews and pictures of roast beef sandwiches, which doesn't sound like much, but people in the North Shore suburbs of Boston are INCREDIBLY passionate and heated about the topic. There's this incredibly intricate rating system full of acronyms for the qualities of the sandwiches you're reviewing. The whole thing is riveting, and it keeps getting deleted for some reason, which adds to the appeal.

Do you consider yourself part of any specific online communities?

I'm part of a seltzer-related Facebook group, which is very pleasant! I'm starting to appreciate the very specific niches and corners of the internet more and more. The big platforms feel so vast and context-free. You're have to keep in mind that you're kind of talking to everybody on Earth all the time.

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

I still love an emoticon, to be honest. I like this one the best :D but some platforms turn it into an emoji automatically, and when that happens it always looks a little more wild-eyed and intense than I mean it.

Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?

I love a classic text! I very much appreciate the issues of access that make voice notes useful tools, but I find they break the rhythm of a text conversation. Like, we're having a reading/writing conversation and then all of a sudden it switches to talking/listening. And I don't always have headphones with me. I'm usually texting because I'm somewhere that makes talking out loud difficult or unpleasant. Let's just schedule a nice phone conversation if you want to talk! (Long story short: I'm old!)

Do any of your group chats have names? What's the best one?

I'm in one called Real Pugs Only which I think is cute!

What's the most basic thing about you online?

I aspire to an increasingly basic/normie online presence. I feel so embarrassed about all the time I've lost to following petty niche internet beef between marginal figures that my less-online friends have never heard of and will never heard of. I am really trying to have more of an uncle/aunt vibe online and using a hundred exclamation points to congratulate people on their accomplishments and haircuts.

What's the most specific or niche Spotify playlist that you like?

I don't use Spotify specifically, but I have been streaming a bunch of independent and underground rap music that I was either into when I was younger or couldn't get my hands on because it pre-dated streaming/downloading. Some of it holds up great and other stuff makes me cringe pretty hard at my teenage taste!

Do you have any "guilty pleasures" online or in terms of what you stream?

During the NBA season, I go through periods of listening to an unconscionable number of NBA podcasts. Like, a few hours a day worth of basketball talk. These periods usually happen when the Celtics are playing well, so lately I've fallen off a little bit. But during those weeks and months it's like...I should be learning a language or something!

Do you ever comment on or reply to posts? Which platforms? What inspires you to do that when you do?

I try to remember that behind [everything] the internet is made of real people, and so I try to talk to them like I would a person I'm in a room with. So it's a lot of commenting encouraging stuff on my friends' posts and responding when strangers say nice or sincere things to me. Usually it's on Twitter or Instagram. I've found Facebook to be diminishingly useful and fun with the exception of one NBA group I'm a part of and the aforementioned roast beef sandwich reviews.

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

I'm probably too engaged with StockX, which is kind of like eBay, mostly for sneakers. I am currently in a bidding war for a pair of Nike SB Dunks, and I'm trying not to get too emotionally invested and pay an obscene amount for this pair of sneakers in order to feel the thrill of victory. Like, congratulations, Josh. You won the privilege to overpay for a pair of shoes. Relax, me!

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

For my job at Desus & Mero I dig around online for weird local news stories, which isn't something I spend a ton of my free time on. And purely for fun I browse through the Instagram account that my wife made for our dog because she only follows other dog accounts. It's an incredibly pleasant way to experience the internet for a little while.

Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?

I wish it were easier to find individual SNL sketches from when I was a kid! I think a bunch of the episodes, if not all of them, are available on Peacock but I want to just search for specific sketches and Weekend Update characters!

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

The best thing is how many people are making really specific and wonderful art and culture that reflects their personal passions and sensibilities! The worst thing (other than real deal abuse and misinformation) is this weirdly pervasive sense of, like: "When I say something I don't 100% literally mean, I am CLEARLY JOKING but when OTHER PEOPLE do that they're DUMB AND WRONG."

Thanks Josh! Listen to his podcast Make My Day, buy his book Nice Try, follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and watch Desus & Mero. :D

Recommended in this post Bill de Blasio-Nets jersey memes; Black Thought’s Funk Flex freestyle on YouTube; the podcasts Spinsters and What Had Happened Was; the newsletter Unsnackable; news website; Jaylen Brown on Instagram and Twitter; the online marketplace StockX; using a hundred exclamation points to congratulate people on their accomplishments and haircuts on Twitter and Instagram.

Read the previous My Internet posts with Andrea González-Ramírez, Rumaan AlamHua Hsu, and Alicia Kennedy.