My Internet: Kat Chow
The reporter and memoirist traded TikTok and Twitter for an app that identifies flowers.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, from Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.🧩
Every Friday, we quiz a very cool “very online” person to get their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Kat Chow, reporter, occasional podcaster, and founding member of NPR’s Code Switch. Her memoir, Seeing Ghosts, comes out Tuesday. Time calls it “a bittersweet meditation on how losing the ones we love indelibly shapes the futures of the living, and how we ultimately find healing in the strength of family.”
Kat gets summaries of Twitter drama via text, watches nail art videos on TikTok (or did, before she deleted the app), and listens to audiobooks instead of podcasts because her brain is exhausted right now. —Nick
What's a recent meme or other post that cracked you up?
This thing Astead Wesley tweeted made me laugh.
Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?
Nah. Sometimes obsessive about rehabbing old chairs, lots of posts of food and dogs
What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?
Don't really watch stuff on YouTube
Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?
I had to delete TikTok from my phone because it was bad for my productivity, but I had a constant flow of nail artists applying random things to their nails—a piece of durian, peach skin, and a miniature hand that also had long nails, to name some. I shared that last one with a bunch of friends and it was very controversial and everybody got mad at me. Rude. (Them, not me.)
Do you ever tweet? Why?
Very occasionally! I haven't had the Twitter app on my phone for the past few years, which means I missed the entire existence of fleets. Which is fine!
Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
Yes, very weird.
Who's the coolest person who follows you?
I feel like I don't really ~use~ social media enough these days to really know this. But the creator of FBOY Island tweeted at me the other day when I was tweeting about whether or not I should start watching. A friend had to tell me that this happened. Does this count?i've been binging Are You The One?, and I need someone to tell me if I should also start watching FBoy Island. pls twitter do not lead me astray
Who's someone more people should follow?
Not a person, but an organization/project: W.O.W. Project is an initiative based out of the store Wing on Wo. & Co—one of the longest continuously running shops in Manhattan's Chinatown—and is women-, queer-, and trans-led, and aims to grow the neighborhood's creative culture.A post shared by @wowprojectnyc
Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
Sandra Oh, because it's Sandra Oh.A post shared by @iamsandraohinsta
Do you ever comment on or reply to posts?
Instagram sometimes, Twitter occasionally
Where do you tend to get your news?
Twitter, newsletters, and sifting through different magazines/newspapers. Sometimes friends will text me summaries of Twitter drama, which is both stressful and an act of love
What's your favorite non-social media app?
I use PictureThis a lot because I've been trying to be more aware of the plants and flowers I'm seeing on walks, and I'm kind of amazed by it and everything I'm learning
What are you willing to pay for online?
Subscriptions to newsletters, newspapers, streaming services
Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
Yes, quite a few. Caitlin Dewey's newsletter, Links I Would Gchat You If We Were Friends, is a staple. I always try to read Hunter Harris' Hung Up and Alicia Kennedy's From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
My brain is so exhausted right now that it's hard to listen to podcasts at this very moment. Lately, I've been listening to audiobooks. I recommend Nichole Perkins' essay collection, Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be, which she narrates herself.
Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?
Yes, in my early 20s
When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
A few weeks ago, looking for examples of a living room with certain vibes that I could send to a friend who just moved into a new apartment
How excited—or apprehensive—are you about the metaverse?
Have not thought much about the metaverse yet, should I be thinking about it more???
Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
Yes! I love them. So intimate
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?
Sure! One is called, “RudestPersonInTheWorld” and another is called “Hugh Grant Fan Club” (though nobody has particularly strong feelings about Hugh Grant). Pretty sure the last debate in another group chat was about whether or not the nail art TikTok I mentioned above was traumatizing or OK.
What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
This isn't my go-to emoji YET, but my 16-year-old cousin recently texted me about reading my book. She used the pinched fingers and 😤 , and says it refers to something good, so *if true and I'm not being played by a teenager* that might become my new go-to. Anything's possible
What's a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve streamed a lot lately?
Currently making a playlist of the songs I listened to while writing Seeing Ghosts—music from high school to get back into that period of my life. Lots of stuff from the Garden State soundtrack.
If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
HBO Max, because I could use friends' accounts for the other ones
What's the most basic thing that you love online?
Is everything I love online basic
Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?
I really wanted to watch the entirety of the Olympic's artistic swimming events because some of those teams' choreographed swims were w i l d.
Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?
I use eBay, Etsy and Poshmark. I recently sold some clothes and used Poshmark to track down a vintage Polaroid sweatshirt a friend had mentioned wanting for her birthday.
What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?
Minimizing time on it. Taking lots of walks. Download the PictureThis app and read about the flowers you're seeing.
What's the worst thing about the internet in 2021? How about the best thing?
I feel so numb about internet things that very little phases me and it's hard to pinpoint extremes. Possible worst: Covid deniers, vaccine refusers. Possible best …
Thanks Kat! Buy Seeing Ghosts, attend her events, check out her reporting and writing, and follow her on Twitter. 😤
More My Internet Anil Dash ∙ Folu Akinkuotu ∙ Kyle Chayka ∙ Ryan Broderick ∙ Patricia Hernandez ∙ Ben Smith ∙ Rachel Charlene Lewis ∙ Kimberly Nicole Foster ∙ Miles Klee ∙ Connie Wang ∙ Cat Zhang ∙ Josh Gondelman ∙ Andrea González-Ramírez ∙ Rumaan Alam ∙ Hua Hsu ∙ Alicia Kennedy