My Internet: Mi-Anne Chan
The video programming director is a recovering beauty editor.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
Most weeks, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.. (I also work at Condé Nast, and Kate has written for mixed feelings.) Mi-Anne showers to hour-long video essays, ascribes Taylor Swift eras to co-workers on Slack, and loves the “niche-ification” currently underway in media. —Nick
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EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
MI-ANNE CHAN: This horrifically morbid video which juxtaposes the most harrowing scene from the pilot of Attack On Titan with the infamous girl dinner. This was so specific and unexpected—the required ingredients for a good meme.
EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Despite TikTok being my literal job (I oversee video for Teen Vogue and Them), my team ribs me almost daily because I would rather watch Reels or YouTube Shorts (blasphemy!) than open up TikTok. That’s not because I don’t like it (I lose myself on the app once or twice a week), it’s because the algorithm is just so addicting that if I start I can’t stop. As a result, my TikTok is a hodgepodge of storytimes, Eras tour surprise songs, and anime content. I have every vertical video platform catered to my different whims: YouTube Shorts is all celebrity interviews, Reels is all cat videos and lip oil reviews, and TikTok is, well, random.
EMBEDDED: Has your Twitter experience changed since Elon Musk took over? What would it take for you to quit?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I quit a long time ago :) I would occasionally go back on it to use its amazing search feature to find a meme to embed in a story. TikTok’s search feature has replaced that need for me to some degree.
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I’m a fan of Substack Notes but frankly I use the mixed feelings Discord as Twitter. It feels like a safer place to “live tweet” your opinions on a given topic like the Met Gala or the finale of Succession.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Primarily memes, and then a little bit to reinforce the strange, parasocial relationship I have with myself. I spend a lot of time tapping through my own stories. It’s sickening (pejorative). I also use it to dm people who are allergic to email.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I exclusively shower to hour-long video essays, specifically the type breaking down fandoms I’ve never heard about from my favorite video essay creator, Sarah Z. Like … the video below on the Once-ler fandom that ships the protagonist from The Lorax (The Once-ler) with himself (!!), this one that breaks down the wild ride that was (is?) the John-Locke conspiracy from BBC’s Sherlock, and this one that breaks down that one time the government paid television networks “grants” to make anti-drug propaganda which resulted in one famously horrible episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (The latter I’ve always thought was a piece of trash episode and watching this explainer made everything make so much sense!)
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Yes, I have and it was not great. Once a post goes viral people get so mean. At that point I just stop reading the comments.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
MI-ANNE CHAN: My very cool musician sister ;) and Drew Barrymore <3
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Marisa Franco for very insightful videos on how to make (and keep) friends as an adult.
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Honestly none. Breaks the fourth wall for me.
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I’m biased but I get a lot of my news from Teen Vogue and Them! That and, I guess the Times and/or the Apple News app (my dad made me a convert).
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite Substack or other independent newsletters?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I love Embedded :) (not just because Kate and I used to work together in our past lives at Refinery29!). I love Burn After Reading by creative strategy studio Morning.Fyi too and of course, Hunter Harris’ Hung Up.
EMBEDDED: Do you have any favorite media company newsletters?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Brock Coylar’s Are U Coming? feels like a return to party reporting that is a little less concerned with exalting “It Girls” and more concerned with peeking into strange universes of those who go out regularly and hard.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I love the “niche-ification” of media that we’re seeing in newsletters and some mainstream media right now. For example, The Ringer has a podcast for almost every fandom and at Teen Vogue we’ve dedicated much of our entertainment coverage to fandoms like K-Pop, gaming, and the like. A huge part of the mixed feelings editorial POV is fandom and subculture exploration.
Magazines and influencers need to stop giving random beauty techniques that have been around for centuries new names to turn them into new trends. Caramel-oat-milk-macchiato hair is NOT the trend of the summer. It is Just. Brown. Hair. I must admit I took part in this when I was a beauty editor at Refinery29 so I apologize for all the hurt I’ve caused. I’m listening and learning.
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I’m a big fan of The Decoder, hosted by The Verge’s editor-in-chief Nilay Patel for tech news that doesn’t veer “too techy.” The episode on music copyright law and the whole Olivia Rodrigo songwriting credits debacle from 2021 is a “best of” in my book. And, as a Taylor Swift fan since her debut, I am a religious listener of The Ringer’s Every Album: Taylor Swift pod’s current “Summer of Taylor” series.
EMBEDDED: How has using LinkedIn benefitted you, if at all?
MI-ANNE CHAN: It feels like spam to me.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Do you miss it?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I owe most of my Instagram following to Refinery29 programming my old beauty videos on Snapchat Discover so while I can’t say I have ever really used it heavily, I do appreciate it.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Literally this morning. It’s my favorite app for mindless scrolling because it lacks the competitive comparison culture that other apps of its ilk possess in droves. It feels like the inside of my brain.
EMBEDDED: Do you have an opinion about Tumblr?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I love Tumblr for the people who simply refuse to let Tumblr die. It’s now under the ownership of Automattic, the open-source-loving company that saved it from a sad, premature death and I am ready for a full Tumblr renaissance. I don’t think the culture ever went away.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Discord, Slack, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
MI-ANNE CHAN: We have a great lil’ Discord for mixed feelings where we drop fun links and talk about TV, memes, fashion, etc. I also use Discord privately with friends, mostly to send “👀” emojis when one of us wants to get a party together to play Splatoon online. The voice chat feature is nice for A. complaining about randoms splatting us and B. asking my friend Lauren what color Loewe Flamenco bag I should buy with a gift card while being splatted.
EMBEDDED: Do you use Slack or another chat tool for work? What’s the best thing about that Slacking with your co-workers? What’s the worst thing?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I guess our team Slack can get pretty rowdy ascribing Taylor Swift eras to each other. The worst thing is seeing someone typing—that info should live in the vault.
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source? Have you tried AI-powered search on Bing or elsewhere?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Predictably, Google, but TikTok search is great for finding reviews of pretty much anything you’re thinking of buying.
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI chatbots and text and art generators? What most concerns you?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I think we all know there needs to be more regulation on AI in a lot of different areas—from creative endeavors to stealing people’s likenesses and deepfaking etc etc. I can’t say I’m the most well-versed in the space (I have a lot of reading to do) but I am certainly interested in AI as a tool. It can be a great aid to idea generation to insert randomness into run-of-the-mill brainstorming that can be surprisingly delightful.
EMBEDDED: Do you have any predictions for cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and/or Web3?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Generally I think the ideas behind blockchain and web3 are …. promising? I’ve been trying to learn more about NFC chips that many luxury fashion houses like Bulgari are starting to implement in all of their merchandise. This helps with authentication later in the process if you ever decide to sell your bag, for example.
Obviously larger brands have been the first to adopt this technology but I can see it being largely beneficial for artists if they are able to incorporate a percentage kickback if their wares are sold after the initial purchase (especially if someone buys their goods and then sells it for a profit later).
I’m also very interested in the concept of decentralized social media. It seems promising as a method to take the power away from apps and into the hands of individuals. Seems early days though and I’m clearly no expert!
EMBEDDED: Are you currently playing any games on your computer or phone?
MI-ANNE CHAN: No, I mostly play on my Switch!
EMBEDDED: What’s your most-used messaging app?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I’m boring, it’s 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?
MI-ANNE CHAN: “Sailor Guardians” and “Phantom Troupe” from Sailor Moon and Hunter x Hunter, respectively. Our most recent debate was over whether or not Sonny Angels are creepy (they aren’t).
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
MI-ANNE CHAN: The watery eye emoji.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I have mixed feelings (ha!) about voice notes. Do not send me anything urgent or timely in a voice note or you’ll never hear from me.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Erika de Casier, a brilliant singer-songwriter responsible for co-writing many a New Jeans hit. Highly recommend.
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?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Spotify and oof, I think I bought a copy of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night on vinyl for $1 at an estate sale five years ago?
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep one streaming service for TV and/or movies, which would it be, and why?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Crunchyroll because I mostly watch anime anyway so why would I need anything else? Hulu would be a close second for the same reasons (they have a lot of great anime!)
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Does Pinterest count? It’s a little more intimate and personal, and less of a capital S-social app. If not, I’d have to say the MTA app—it’s simple and works 80 percent of the time.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
MI-ANNE CHAN: doing this 👉👈 when I want something.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want but can’t seem to find anywhere online?
MI-ANNE CHAN: Nuanced takes on fandom culture that aren’t news releases and reviews of new shows. Not saying this doesn’t exist in some form in a number of different places but I think there’s a lot of room to grow in this space!
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I toggle between eBay, Poshmark, Thred Up, DePop, and the RealReal for hours in bed looking for clothes and random trinkets. This week I’ve done more peer-to-peer shopping than usual … I just bought a vintage Yankees jersey to wear with skirts and a used Nintendo Switch on eBay so my partner and I can play games together on different consoles.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
MI-ANNE CHAN: I enjoyed reading Ben Smith’s Traffic, which charts the rise and fall of Buzzfeed and Gawker and that highly-specific era of digital media where Chartbeat loomed over our heads like a 5am flight. I was in the nascent stages of my writing journey when Buzzfeed and Gawker did all their disrupting so it was nice to see this time period laid out, especially since the desire for virality has not only changed the media landscape but impacted me and many of my friends, personally, throughout our careers.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
MI-ANNE CHAN: That mash up of Attack on Titan and girl dinner ;)