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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 Ryan Broderick, a freelance writer who hosts the podcast The Content Mines and publishes the hilarious, disquieting, and indispensable Garbage Day, a newsletter about the internet. Ryan is monitoring Gen Z’s Discord-Tumblr-TikTok pipeline, inadvertently destroyed his For You Page, and has recently gotten really into ska Twitter. —Nick
PS: You may notice that we’ve refreshed the questionnaire. Don’t worry, we’re still pressuring respondents to reveal the names of their group chats!
What's a recent meme or other post that cracked you up?
I'm not sure if this counts as meme, but I am absolutely obsessed with this Tiktok account. But if you want a specific meme, I'm really into shroomjak content right now.
Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?
I am terrible at Instagram! My girlfriend constantly yells at me because I am terrible at taking photos and never post anything nice on it. I am currently trying to force myself to use it because I think it could help me promote stuff I'm making but it just feels like such a slog to use. If I had to describe my account's aesthetic though I would say "vacation dad."
What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?
My YouTube algorithm knows me very well. It's a mix of emo and pop punk music videos, Ableton tutorials, MCU fan theory videos, those channels that explain like five years worth of comic book storylines for you lol, and deep dives into weird old video games. Oh, and anime stuff.
Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?
Most of the TikTok content I see is through Tumblr blogs actually. But recently my friend Bijan and I have been terrorizing each other with truly cursed TikTok content. And actually I told him the other day that all of the awful videos he's sent me have actually destroyed my FYP page.
When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
I mainly encounter Pinterest through Google Image Searches now? I don't have an account or pin anything, but I've noticed that all of a sudden a lot of images that pop up on image searches are hosted on Pinterest. I have no idea what that means in a larger sense, but I find that interesting. I had a Pinterest account years and years ago when it first launched and I mainly used it to pin images of cabins in the woods.
Do you ever tweet? Why?
Unfortunately, I tweet often. Though I feel like I'm getting better at using other platforms to communicate like Discord or small chat groups. I was once told by an editor that I will never be good at Twitter because Twitter rewards users who are comfortable making one specific thing their personal brand and I'm way too chaotic to do that. Which is why I'll tweet about something serious like tech platforms or extremism and then immediately follow that up with shitposts about anime.
Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
Yes, many actually! I've had a few YouTube videos to get shared over a million times and during the Facebook video gold rush I made a video that was viewed 15 million times. My most retweeted tweet was this one about Pikachu speaking English and not like "pika pika" in one of the movies.Hi, I am just learning that Pikachu speaks English in the new Pokemon movie and, yes, it is extremely fucking weird
It was retweeted over 160,000 times and actually the voice actress who voices Pikachu DM'd me to complain about it and I still feel sort of bad about it. Going viral is a very surreal and generally awful and nerve-racking experience. Although, maybe that's just me. I've only been recognized for viral content on the street twice, once in the UK for a project where I spent a week only eating at the same awful fast food pub chain. And once in Mexico because I made a mini-doc about a fake news content farm. A guy yelled "fake news gringo" at me on the sidewalk. That was pretty cool.
Who's the coolest person who follows you?
I have noticed some high profile Garbage Day readers who signed up a while back. I won't out them here, but I want them to know I see them and it would be cool if they pumped my newsletter full of venture capital lol. But, honestly, I have a few bands that I grew up loving that follow me on Twitter and that's actually the coolest thing to me in the world. Also, one time I had a tweet retweeted by the author William Gibson. I still think about that sometimes. Oh, and once Ben Affleck quote-tweeted me. That was a very big deal from me because I'm from Boston.
Who's someone more people should follow?
I feel like I always plug him, but I think his Twitter account is unbelievable: My buddy Hussein Kesvani. He's a podcaster from the UK and his tweets are out of control and amazing.
Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
Lil Nas X is a genius and probably the most important person in culture right now. But I'm also a pretty big fan of Jack Black's TikTok stuff right now. It seems very basic and it is, but it's also just nice to have that guy around. Oh, and if you haven't spent any time watching T-Pain's Twitch, I highly recommend it!
Where do you tend to get your news?
Twitter, unfortunately. But also I use Feedly as an RSS reader and Pocket for longform. About two years ago, I realized that the news was making feel sick all the time and I didn't want to feel bad online anymore, so I spent a while trying to make my internet consumption feel more positive. And for the most part it has worked! My Twitter is organized into private lists I use to track specific topics and I largely don't feel overwhelmed by content anymore. I feel like a lot of people use "being upset at the internet" as like a weird humblebrag or like a replacement for a personality lol and I didn't want to do that anymore.
What's your favorite non-social media app?
Pokémon GO! I use it a few times a week. I catch a few things and turn it off. It feels like a very chill and healthy thing haha. I think it's good to have a few apps on your phone that you don't feel compelled to use all the time.
What are you willing to pay for online?
I touched on this above, but I started paying for a bunch of stuff and that has really helped enjoy my time on the internet more haha. In terms of services, I pay for Pocket, Feedly, and Discord Nitro. Discord Nitro is honestly great if you use Discord a lot. Kind of a game-changing experience. I also pay for a bunch of streaming services, which I need to do something about... eventually...
Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
My podcast consumption has taken such a nosedive during the pandemic. Working from home really decimated the part of my life I used to listen to stuff. But I will say I almost never listen to anything journalistic. Podcasts for me are about entertainment. The most serious show I listen to is You’re Wrong About, which is incredible. I also love My Brother, My Brother, and Me and I've been a years long How Did This Get Made completist.
Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
I subscribe to a bunch, but also probably less than you'd expect maybe? I read a lot of Substacks via the site. But here are my top reads from my inbox right now:
And a bunch more. This is actually a very loaded question and I'm overthinking it. So I'm going to stop here.
Do you have an opinion on Clubhouse or its clones, like Twitter Spaces?
The frenzy around live audio is so weird to me! Discord's audio chat and stages stuff makes the most sense because it's built on top of a chat platform. Plus, it can support video, so it's closer to Twitch than a podcast. But with Clubhouse and Spaces, I just honestly don't get it. It's like going to tech conference without the open bar. Unfathomable to me.
Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
I am not nostalgic for Tumblr because it is the most used app on my phone lol. I use it pretty much constantly haha. Also, according to some research I was doing recently for a piece, I think the app is actually having a big second life with Gen Z. There's a Discord-Tumblr-TikTok content pipeline happening right now that's very interesting to me. I am nostalgic for Vine, however. I miss it every day. It was shut down on my birthday. Hard not to take that personally.
Do you consider yourself part of any specific online communities?
I've recently gotten really into ska Twitter. And, no, I will elaborate on what that is. I suppose I'm also pretty active in the MCU fandom. I'm not like commenting on Reddit threads, but I'm tweeting about it a lot and consuming a ton of content about it.
Are you regularly in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook?
I use Discord for both my newsletter's audience and to run a network of other great newsletter writers called Sidechannel. But I'm also in a ton of Discords. It's probably my favorite social network right now. It feels very chill and nice and positive. I'm also a pretty huge Reddit user. During my aforementioned internet clean-up, I spent a while subscribing to subreddits about stuff I really care about and now when I open the app, there's just a bunch of great stuff to look at.
Are you a gamer? What are you playing right now?
I have a Nintendo Switch and almost all of the games I play on it are RPGs. Though, I'm currently making my way through Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which is incredibly good.
Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
I am not a voice note person. This is probably a very millennial take, but for me, using anything that requires audio is like an entire mood shift. I have to like get into a zone where I want to *hear* content if that makes sense lol.
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?
My family chat was getting really confusing when we were using it a ton during the pandemic so I renamed it "Lucky 13 Club" just so I could find it in my texts. The name comes from the fact my dad is a huge weirdo and obsessed with the number 13. He sees it numerologically everywhere and has even made shirts where the number 13 is styled to look like a "B" for Broderick. It's a whole thing. I have not actually been in a real text debate in a while now that I think about it. Most of my chats are just awful memes.
What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
I would say these are my main emojis 👀 🤷🏼♂️ 🙏🏻 😩 🤔
I feel like emoji use is based around punctuating what I'm typing. So these being my most-used I guess means that I'm sort of a bummer to talk to haha.
What's the most specific or niche music playlist that you like?
Lol alright, so this one is REALLY niche.
It's a playlist based on Japanese pop star Mariya Takeuchi's 1984 song "Plastic Love," which for a long time wasn't on Spotify. This playlist is meant to channel its general vibe and its full of really good City Pop (80s Japanese pop) songs.
Who topped your Spotify Wrapped last year?
If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
It's honestly crazy how fast HBO Max became my main streaming service. That said, Apple TV has Mythic Quest and Ted Lasso which are two of the best shows of the decade maybe? So that's tough. I will say, I feel like Netflix originals now all have a very specific kind of MTV's Teen Wolf-style sameness to them now and I just really don't open it as much as I used to?
What's the most basic thing that you love online?
Videos of rain lol. Also, do popping videos count? 👀
Do you ever comment on or reply to posts? Which platforms? Why?
I reply a lot on Twitter to stuff if I think I have something funny to say. Otherwise, I try not to ever read or respond to comments. I have to force myself to go into the Garbage Day comment section. I just have spent so many years being completely tormented by commenters that I just don't have much love for it anymore.
Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?
Last year one of my favorite shirts ripped and it's from a company that doesn't exist anymore and I found the exact shirt on eBay. I bought it and I got a nice handwritten note and it was perfect. It was a great experience. I also recently bought sweatpants on Amazon. That was cool. Sorry, I haven't really gone anywhere or seen anyone for like 18 months, so I'm still figuring out what my post-pandemic timeskip aesthetic is going to be. (The shirt I bought on eBay is in my headshot lol. It's a cool shirt, I think!)
Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?
I'm still searching for something that can give me the same kind of placid content grazing experience that StumbleUpon used to give me. That sort of "here are some DSLR photos and now here's a webcomic and now here's some Super Mario fan art and now here's a weird article about octopuses," etc. kind of experience. You know what I mean?
What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?
Try and gravitate towards things that don't feel compulsive. I think there are lot of widgets inside of phones that feed on compulsive behavior and if you feel like you're doing something that doesn't matter and also doesn't make you feel good, try not to do it! Obviously, that's easier said than done.
What's the worst thing about the internet in 2021? How about the best thing?
Worst: Trending Topics. No site does them right. They're all broken. Dismantle them all. Just tear them out. Best: Probably Lil Nas X, right? I'm also very invested in whatever it is that Travis Barker is doing right now.
Check out Kate’s November 2020 interview with Ryan about launching Garbage Day.
Read the previous My Internet posts with 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, and Alicia Kennedy.