2006-2016: From Lonelygirl15 to Lil Miquela.


Over the past week, the great resource hive that is the Association of Internet Researchers mailing list resurfaced discussions on Lonelygirl15; my Sociology of Popular Culture students discussed the Marina Joyce scandal in class as “old news” and Miranda Sings as “peak microcelebrity”; a colleague posted a Facebook link that introduced me to the world of Lil Miquela.

As an anthropologist who researches Influencers and microcelebrities, I feel like I am on the cusp of making intelligent connections among Lonelygirl15, Marina Joyce, Miranda Sings, and Lil Miquela, but I know I am not quite there yet. This is an attempt. (pls brain get me there).

Here are some thoughts on how the issues popularized by Lonelygirl16 (circa 2006) still speak back to personae curation, follower labour, and authenticity in the Influencer industry today.

Continue reading 2006-2016: From Lonelygirl15 to Lil Miquela.

How to make peace with academia.


1) Acknowledge that the system is broken

2) Recognize that meritocracy is a farce

3) Admit that branding genealogy is a cult

4) Find your safe spaces and allies

5) Locate enjoyment in your research and/or teaching

6) Preserve this joy and guard it with moderate cynicism

7) Remember that your self worth is not determined by academic achievement

8) Recalibrate your equilibrium by airing occasional rants to seek solidarity

9) Rinse and repeat

Grief and deep-liking on Facebook.


It is now 0017hrs and I am typing in this space while weeping like shit because I feel so full of sad. But I know I will be okay in the morning because I have a work meeting to get to, then I have to teach two classes, then I have to e-lecture, then I have to get a revise-and-resubmit in.

This means that I will weep like shit while purging all my sad now, then weep and toss and turn in bed for hours on end. But when the sun rises, I will get up from bed and wash up and dress up and head to work and kick butt and impress people in life and do my work day with maximum work ethic and maximum brain. Because this is what I do.

Days like this, I really take comfort in the fact that I know how to get the sad out of my body. I got really lucky figuring out what my coping mechanisms are early on in my teenage years. I know what I need to do and how to do the things that recalibrate my heart and head, so that I can get back on track with life and be a functional human person. But getting into this space and being articulate about it is quite the effort. Even though I try very hard not to come to here too often, some times my head needs to do what my heart needs for itself.

There must be hundreds of guides on the internet about grief and etiquette in digital spaces. This is not one of them. This is a rant to get all the bad feelings out of my body so that I can feel better inside and go to sleep. This is about how I am upset over some one who is deep-liking my old Facebook posts about my sister’s demise.

Continue reading Grief and deep-liking on Facebook.

Academic life one year post-thesis submission.


I submitted my thesis one year ago today. It was the loveliest of days with some of my favourite postgrad crew, which sort of made up for the extremely anti-climatic printing day before. A few months later, I declared I was dead set on wanting to be an academic.

What has changed since?

Continue reading Academic life one year post-thesis submission.

Gross is the new like? Grotesque microcelebrity and carnivalesque commerce


(This was first published on Cyborgology on 24 August 2016.)

Pretty things are pretty to look at. They bring you comfort, inspire aspiration, or perhaps stimulate vicarious consumption. But have you ever stumbled upon something gross on the internet and yet could not look away?

Me too. (It’s no wonder Dr. Pimple Popper has over 700 million views on YouTube.)

“Picture perfect” Influencers have been thriving on social media ever since they burst into the scene in the early-to-mid 2000s. Having first begun on blogs such as LiveJournal, OpenDiary, and blogger, these self-made internet celebrities have since transited to monetising the presentation of their everyday lives on various social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and Snapchat. Perhaps most representative in the popular imagination are “Instagram Influencers” most known for their conscientious poses in pristine locations, luxury-esque conspicuous consumption and savvy internet relatability in tow.

But this economy of the perfect, pristine, and picturesque is growing saturated and fast becoming boring.

Enter “grotesque microcelebrities”.

Continue reading Gross is the new like? Grotesque microcelebrity and carnivalesque commerce