My Internet: Terry Nguyen
The Gen Yeet writer and reporter inhabits a sparkles emoji state of mind.
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 Terry Nguyen, a reporter for Vox’s The Goods who also writes the cult-favorite newsletter Gen Yeet. Terry treats Instagram as a place to dump her hottest photos and leave, is seriously thinking about securing an Ethereum domain name, and every once in awhile, gets the feminine urge to buy a Nintendo Switch to play Pokemon or Animal Crossing. —Nick
What's a recent meme or other post that cracked you up?
I'm terrible at saving memes that I like because… my phone has low storage and memes are best savored in the moment! That being said, I always let loose a small chuckle whenever I encounter @patiasfantasyworld on Instagram—a hilariously chaotic and occasionally unsettling collection of thoughts, images, and videos that is run by three Black meme-curators.
Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?
I don't have an organized aesthetic. I'm really trying to care less about Instagram, to treat it as a place to dump my hottest photos and leave. The leaving part is hard, though. I'm sharing more art on my Stories—snippets of writing and poetry, paintings, fashion editorials, and nature (although that's hard to come by in NYC). I suppose it's accurate to say I am trying to embody aestheticism in my daily actions and thoughts, rather than simply performing it for the sake of an online audience.
What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?
Cat videos, video essays, Bachelor recaps, yoga flows, Vogue's celebrity lookbooks, celebrity plastic surgery analyses, and cooking tutorials: My Youtube algorithm is all over the place, and I like to keep it guessing! I am currently very committed to watching Spoonful of Ragdolls, a channel run by a middle-aged Korean woman who vlogs her 11 beautiful ragdoll cats.
I'm a fan of Mina Le's video essays on fashion, movies, and pop culture. The celebrities, I'm sure, are shaking in their Botox boots under the watchful eye of Lorry Hill, who provides insightful (and respectful) commentary on celebrity plastic surgery. Finally, I'm enjoying Vogue's Objects of Affection series (especially the one of John Galliano's home).
Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?
I deleted TikTok off my phone over the summer. It was a good decision!
Do you ever tweet? Why?
Yes, unfortunately. For work generally, but sometimes for fun. For thought cataloguing. For posterity. I have a private Twitter where I only follow writers and poets and bots.
Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
No, and I say this with a huge sigh of relief. I don't ever intend to go viral. It would be great if my work occasionally did, provided that said work was a well-written piece. My dream is to be vaguely famous in a cult classic kind of way.
Who's the coolest person who follows you?
For some inexplicable reason, Cat Marnell (of How to Murder Your Life and downtown NYC party-circuit fame) follows me on Twitter. I'm absolutely obsessed with her writing, chaos-ridden lifestyle, beauty tips, and glamorous state of mind.
Who's someone more people should follow?
Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
Celebrities generally stress me out, but Zendaya because she's lithe and sexy and only posts magazine editorials, red carpet photos, or movie trailers on her Instagram.
Do you ever comment on or reply to posts? Which platforms? Why?
I try to only interact with mutuals/friends on the main platforms. I'm a quietly eager lurker, but every so often, I think people deserve recognition for A Good Post.
Where do you tend to get your news?
Twitter, the Vox Slack, occasionally NPR's Up First.
What's your favorite non-social media app?
The Moon, an app that tells you the moon's current phase and its astrological calendar for the month.
What are you willing to pay for online?
Art, books, good writing, smart commentary—creative and entertaining works made by individuals, not corporations. I'm a corporate subscription leech! I refuse to use Amazon Prime. I think I have, like, two news subscriptions under my own name, and zero streaming subs—a fact I'm very proud of. But this low-subscription lifestyle is really only made possible by my boyfriend.
Are you a fan of any NFT art or artists? Do you have strong feelings about blockchain tech or cryptocurrencies?
No, although I have tried to get into digital art. Not to sound like a boomer, but I find that virtual art, unless it's presented to me in a physical gallery, is lacking in aura, in physicality. But I guess people thought that about modern-art mediums like photography or video or mixed media decades ago, so who am I to talk!
I do believe that Web3—blockchain tech and crypto—is here to stay, and I'm seriously thinking about securing an Ethereum domain name, which costs, like, $160? (And oh, if anyone wants to send me the funds to do so, my Venmo is @nguyenterry.) I don't really have strong opinions about Web3; in my opinion, it's far too early to draw hard conclusions. I do think it's fair that some people are inclined to be crypto reactionaries based on the hyper-capitalist, libertarian-leaning types these tech circles attract. Let's just say I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm also not trying to toss my hat into the NFT speculative bubble.
Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
Too many! Off the top of my head, I'm a devoted reader of: food writer Alicia Kennedy, fashion journalist Amy Odell, critic and novelist Brandon Taylor, beauty journalist Jessica DeFino, culture writer Hunter Harris, Michelle Lhooq's party newsletter Rave New World, Haley Nahman's musings on Maybe Baby, and Devin Gael Kelly's poetry newsletter Ordinary Plots. I also recently purchased a subscription to writer George Saunders's Story Club.
Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
I'm loyal to my weekly Time to Say Goodbye listen, usually when I'm doing chores or taking walks. I occasionally tune into The Cutting Room Floor, a fashion podcast that landed on my radar for its episode with Leandra Medine.
Do you have an opinion on Clubhouse or its clones, like Twitter Spaces?
It's basically talk show radio. I tuned into, like, three Clubhouse chats before I realized how… passively boring it is, no matter who's talking. Please just host an IRL panel!
Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?
Briefly in high school. I used to be obsessed with keeping up with my Snap streaks, and then I went to college and forgot all about it. Going to plug my own work here: I wrote about Snap's perpetual relevance among teens back in June.
When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
Today! I love using Pinterest as a catalogue for my visual thoughts. I treat it as creative stimuli because I just really love moodboards. I have boards for art, fashion and runway looks, and poems. I don't try to scroll through it because Pinterest is trying to be a shopping app like Instagram, but the algorithm occasionally sends me something useful, like easy-to-make recipes or morning yoga flows.
Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
I'm nostalgic for the content and subcultures on 2010s Tumblr, but Tumblr—interface-wise, at least—is still very much the same. I still go through phases of casually blogging on Tumblr. Perhaps it's more accurate to say I miss the Vine era of the internet when meme cycles were slower, and it felt like everyone online of a certain age range was in on the joke.
Do you consider yourself part of any specific online communities?
Nope! I'm an active lurker in some subreddits, but I rarely post.
Are you regularly in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook?
Only Reddit, and they're not very interesting, unfortunately!
Are you playing any games right now?
I'm not a gamer, although every once in a while, I get the feminine urge to buy a Nintendo Switch to play Pokemon or Animal Crossing.
How excited—or apprehensive—are you about the metaverse?
I'm apprehensive about the future of a corporate-controlled metaverse that is currently being proposed by Big Tech.
Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
I love voice notes. I treat them like little one-way phone calls, which are so useful for gossip or venting. Voice mail, unfortunately, has been taken over by spam callers, bots, or office receptionists, so I'm glad voice notes exist in that liminal space between text and phone call.
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?
I don't have many active group chats. I'm a big one-on-one texter, and my friends typically use group chats for making IRL plans. That being said, my favorite group chat name is "mission accomplished," a reference to Mission NYC, the city's preeminent East Asian night club that is upsettingly hard to get into without waiting in line and paying $30+ cover. We last texted about our Spotify Wrapped results; one of my friends listened to 175,000+ minutes of music, which was interpreted as a cry for help.
What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
✨ The sparkles emoji. It's a state of mind; it connotes energy and embodies ✨ joie de vivre ✨
What's a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve streamed a lot lately?
This playlist, ft. tracks by Jhené Aiko, SZA, and Raveena, is always on repeat whenever I'm practicing yoga or lightly stretching. I'm based in SoCal for the duration of December, and the perpetually sunny weather has affected what I listen to. There's been a lot more beach rock, and my "los angeles notebook" playlist has some classically California songs.
If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
Not to be all Brooklyn manic pixie dream girl who's into arthouse movies, but if I had a streaming subscription, it would probably be Criterion Channel. Netflix's landing page gives me choice anxiety; Disney is for kids and Marvel fans (both of which I am decidedly not); and HBO Max… well, I can live without HBO Max.
What's the most basic thing that you love online?
Those lil Instagram poetry accounts, and vaguely titling my Spotify playlists in all lowercase text.
Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?
I buy most of my secondhand items from Etsy or eBay; I find that sellers offer lower, better prices on those platforms compared to Depop. I do, however, like to browse for designer pieces on Depop, but the range of prices is baffling, especially for non-designer items. You should never be paying close to $100 for anything that's label-less, even if it is "vintage," no matter how reputable the seller is! Jenna of @nanenavintage runs one of my favorite vintage stores on Instagram, so I often buy directly through her. My latest purchase is a pair of straight-leg Ralph Lauren jeans that I need to get tailored!
Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
I am a few years late to reading Jenny Odell's How To Do Nothing, which I finished in October on a particularly warm day in Prospect Park. The book is, in many ways, a field guide for holding and directing attention; it prompted me to rethink my frequent phone use—how the impulse to be constantly "plugged in," even if I am just listening to music on a walk, casts a fuzzy, dissociative haze over my day-to-day activities. And so, I've tried to be less tethered to my devices. Presence, according to Odell, can be a meditative and rehabilitative force.
What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?
Have fun on the internet, and log off as soon as scrolling begins to feel like a chore.
What was the worst thing about the internet in 2021? How about the best thing?
The discourse sucked. My favorite part of being online this summer was seeing people come back to life. I love tapping on a friend's Story and being surprised, sometimes moved by the imagery of life: vacations, weddings, blurry bars, close gatherings, crowded movie theaters, busy streets.
More My Internet Matt Medved ∙ Nick Quah ∙ Taylor Lorenz ∙ Darian Symoné Harvin ∙ Hussein Kesvani ∙ Max Read ∙ Leah Carroll ∙ Rusty Foster ∙ Alphonse Pierre ∙ Max Chafkin ∙ Casey Johnston ∙ Danyel Smith ∙ Imani Gandy ∙ Katie Notopoulos ∙ Kat Chow∙ 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