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My Internet: Tyler Bainbridge
The Perfectly Imperfect founder is all about Instagram.
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.
Today we welcome Tyler Bainbridge, the founder of the newsletter Perfectly Imperfect, a “real-time catalog of New York cool-kid sensibility” (per Vanity Fair’s Delia Cai) that has featured Mac DeMarco and Lena Dunham, published a zine with Forever Magazine, and recently put on a show featuring Blaketheman1000 and Alice Longyu Gao. Tyler recently launched another newsletter, T-Recs, featuring a single recommendation every single day, and also plays music as DJ Perfect.
Tyler would love if there was a music website that didn’t suck, and while he is aesthetically burnt out from the great moodboardification of Instagram circa 2020-2022, says text-only Instagram Stories are the new tweets. —Nick
P.S.: The Embeddathon ends Monday! Take advantage to celebrate Kate going full-time with Embedded.
EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or other post that made you laugh?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: This meme about a bench. Or maybe this one.
EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: A lot of stuff like this. Also monkeys hugging dogs, dogs hugging monkeys, etc. Stuff like that.
EMBEDDED: Has your Twitter experience changed since Elon Musk took over? What would it take for you to quit?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Not really, it basically feels exactly the same besides the initial performative “I’m deleting Twitter” tweets. Those same people will be back someday and pretend it never happened.
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Text-only Instagram Stories are the new Tweets and retweeting is sending to your friends or screenshotting it for your own story. There’s less pressure to say something funny or topical for likes so you can post without caring about the scoreboard.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I post a lot of stories, watch a lot of stories, and share a lot of stories, but I’m hearing that feed-posting may be “in” for 2023, so we’ll see. You kind of have to be on IG if you’re interested in live music, film screenings, or nightlife because that’s where everyone is posting event flyers. We also share all of the Perfectly Imperfect graphics on our Instagram and that’s how most of our audience knows about new posts from us.
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I like watching long cathartic videos of people riding trains across America, building cabins in the woods, restoring old things, making a delicious meal, or camping somewhere strange. It’s either that kind of stuff or I’m making friends watch old Conner O’Malley videos on my couch.
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Our New York Times profile went viral-ish on Twitter and it felt like the gates of hell had opened. I couldn’t escape the ridicule for well over a week and had to log off completely. It kind of turned me into a bit of a doomer when it comes to press and virality.
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Probably Charli XCX or Daniel Arnold. Two of my favorite artists and people.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: More people should follow Cooper B. Handy (aka LUCY), one of the most talented and hardest working musicians in the biz. People should also be following Moma.Ps5 for some of the sharpest, and funniest, cultural criticism.
EMBEDDED: Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I love Paul Schrader’s Facebook page. I don’t think he’s a big celebrity to most people, but he’s certainly one to me.
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I probably Google “blah blah blah Reddit” at least a dozen times a week. It’s still the best way to learn something from real people who aren’t selling you anything. The rise of Discord is tragic because all of the valuable public discussions that used to take place on Reddit and get indexed by Google are now locked away on Discord chat servers. It’s a huge step backwards for internet documentation. I don’t want to have to join the “router” Discord community to figure out what’s wrong with mine.
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I tend to hear about important news via NYTimes push notifications or on Twitter.
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite Substack or other independent newsletters?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Angel Prost’s invite-only “ask a punk” newsletter is one of my favorites, the way she thinks and writes about culture is inspiring. Joe Kerwin is doing real boots on the ground NYC music scene reporting on his Substack You Missed It. I also like the playlists created on newsletters like Herb Sundays and Music Website. The best resource on Substack for hearing about what’s hot in the fashion world or what big sales are going on is Magasin. I love SNAKE for vintage furniture and live auction ephemera.
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite media company newsletters?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I don’t really read any.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I’ve like what Adam Faze is creating on TikTok with shows like the Kareem Rahma-hosted Keep the Meter Running. That being said, I really hope it gets picked up by a network so I don’t have to watch it via 45 second vertical TikTok clips.
I don’t really like “in and out” lists. Once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.
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EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I stopped listening to podcasts but my favorites used to be Nymphet Alumni, The Ion Pack, Jokermen, How Long Gone, Red Scare, Marc Maron, Contain, Throwing Fits, and Wet Brain.
EMBEDDED: How has using LinkedIn benefitted you, if at all?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Hibernating my LinkedIn three years ago has been hugely beneficial. My inbox can breath a bit easier now. I’m interested in the culture of LinkedIn and I love the braggadocios self-help content and poetic sentence per line posting style. It feels like a new use of language on the internet that hasn’t been properly explored.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Do you miss it?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I desperately want to delete the app but I’m stuck in an ancient Snapchat group chat with some good friends from high school just because some of them have Androids. We should just talk on Instagram or something smh.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I’d probably use Pinterest more if I didn’t get aesthetically burnt out during the great moodboardification of Instagram circa 2020-2022. However, I did train Pinterest to mostly show me old magazine covers and photos of Lou Reed, Chloe Sevigny, Vincent Gallo, and David Berman, which feels like a step in the right direction.
EMBEDDED: Do you have an opinion about Tumblr?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I missed the boat on Tumblr when I was a teenager (I was too busy playing Call of Duty) and by the time I’d made an account the ship had sailed. I do think that Tumblr would be a great replacement if Twitter ever fully fell off though.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Discord, Slack, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I used to like going on the Discords of the aforementioned podcasts because they tend to cultivate cool (and toxic…) communities of like-minded people, but they’ve all been in a steady decline since peak pandemic when chatting online was the only social outlet for most people.
EMBEDDED: Are you currently playing any games on your computer or phone?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Sadly no, sounds nice though.
EMBEDDED: Do you have any predictions for cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and/or Web3?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: It’s going to remain incredibly corny and annoying but unfortunately it’s not going anywhere.
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI text and art generators? What most concerns you?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: When people are creative enough with the prompts it can generate some really incredible stuff like the poetic images that my friend Rich has been crafting with it (below). However, I tend to get scared when I think of where it’ll be 10 years from now if it’s already this good.
EMBEDDED: What’s your most-used messaging app?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: iMessage or Instagram DMs.
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?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I’m in one group chat called “Average Danny Cole Enjoyer” and another that’s simply titled “everyone.” I’m not very active in either group chat but I do read every message and think they’re a lot of fun. Angel Prost of Frost Children just wrote a great “Group Chat Manifesto.” DM me and I’ll forward it to you.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I like “heart-hands” because it’s nice to look at and expresses love. I also like sending the generic smile emoji 😄 but people seem to have mixed feelings on it. I’m trying to bring ASCI text emojis back, especially little faces with the nose included : - D
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I like receiving them, but don’t really like sending them. I’m often on the go and just want to reply over text without talking into my phone.
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Harrison aka The Dare told me to listen to Silent Shout by The Knife and I’m obsessed. Dark, cold, and sparse electro music with epic vocals, so good. I’ve also been playing Red Apple Falls by Smog over and over and over again. Probably says a lot about my mental state.
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?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I pay for Spotify but I also like to buy music on Bandcamp to support my friends.
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep one streaming service for TV and/or movies, which would it be, and why?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Regretfully, Amazon Prime. I watch a lot of old-ish movies and more often than not, Amazon Prime is the only place that has them. Maybe I should start pirating again.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I’ve been using Splitwise recently. I really hate the culture of needing every cent of a group dinner to be fairly accounted for, but that’s the world we live in and at least this app makes it easy. Especially on group vacations or nights with a lot of separate tabs.
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Discovery. I love digging through the internet crates for music I’ve never heard, obscure and rare films, nearly forgotten interviews, etc. It never gets old.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want but can’t seem to find anywhere online?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I’d love if there was a music website that didn’t suck and also accurately documented exciting artists, genres, and scenes all around the world.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: I love eBay and get a lot of my clothes on there. The trick is to know your measurements and how to construct search queries that reveal the buried treasure. I recently bought a vintage Russell Athletics Zip-Up and I wear it almost every day.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: Dean Kissick writes about the internet, culture, and art better than anyone else. He’s able to look at micro and macro cultural trends and beautifully weave threads bringing it all together.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
TYLER BAINBRIDGE: This video of some friends in a 7-11 at 2:30am in 1987.