Letter From The Editor: Lol Nothing Matters

Everything good is on the internet, but you don’t need it all

fader fort
Photographer Alex Welsh
November 10, 2014

I moved to New York to teach sixth graders about art. I bought my first smartphone, which helped me send emails around the clock and scrambled my emotions. Initially, art education had seemed like a solid field where I could be generous and also employed, but after a year I was miserable. I wanted to be acknowledged by people who were not 11-year-olds. It was weird to admit to myself, then, that I'd rather blog than teach.

When I started at The FADER as an intern in 2010, there had recently been a dispute about how often the magazine should use its Twitter account. The internet wasn't yet a priority. When people left work on nights and weekends, the site effectively shut down. There was no such thing as a SoundCloud embed. Vevo was less relevant than Zshare. Remember Zshare? But before long, what had been a really good MP3 blog that sometimes ran magazine stories quickly began evolving, branching into documentary video, podcasting, and weird essays. It was a strange time but full of possibility, for the company and definitely for me. I came to The FADER with no writing or reporting experience; I just loved rap and was willing to drag myself through the mud. I'm so thankful that my teammates respected this and taught me how to make great stories.

Somewhere along the line, I left to work for BuzzFeed, a relentlessly innovative media company. I earned my place in that room of smart journalists because I'm a good sponge, absorbing facts and feelings quickly. And all around, there was so much to soak up: people were exposing flaws in our justice system, explaining diseases, itemizing complicated identities in weirdly accurate lists. Is it bad to say that I sometimes found all that overstimulation unpleasant?

I've long become used to broadcasting my life—I tweet my thoughts and Instagram my proud moments and Facebook my articles—but sitting so physically close to the heart of the web, digesting a constant stream of good and bad news, I felt like my head was going to explode. I missed letting my friends catch me up on what I'd missed. At spinning class, instructors say that pain is how you know you're getting somewhere. I'm a hard worker and a busybody, and I'll always worry that being more comfortable means I'm growing less, but sometimes you have to stop freaking out and do what feels right. Returning to The FADER as editor-in-chief, it's my responsibility to shine a light on important stuff that's maybe not on everyone's radar and to present everything in a way that people will actually want to read. There are other people who do this kind of work too, but at The FADER we connect dots other people wouldn't, and it's fun.

Tyler, the Creator shouted out The FADER on one of Odd Future's first-ever singles. Shortly after releasing it, he stopped by our New York office, and for some reason (everyone was at lunch?) I was pulled in for a meeting with him. I think it was one of his first trips to New York; he had a camera dangling around his neck. At 19, he was already aggressively colonizing Tumblr with his photos, beats, and nightmares. Record labels found the universe he'd built and looked on with desperation and awe. Eventually, he signed on with major label distributors and got independently rich off touring and tube socks. Now, he's 23, and the person he's been online is maybe not the person he wants to be forever. In real life, he's learning how to balance his desire for control with other people's needs.

The members of Migos are even younger, adopting and discarding flows at Snapchat speed. When I think about how fast shit changes and want to relax, I listen to them yell. With that talent and their label's Google money and social media data, Migos are doing something that once seemed impossible: launching Atlanta mixtape tracks on global pop charts. But they still have, like, two million fewer followers on Vine than the latest teen sensation. I wonder if they are interested in how their songs are pushed out, or how they stack up to other trending topics. Maybe knowing would bum them out. It seems like they're happiest together, in the studio, away from all the other noise.

I get that. Please RT.

Pre-order a copy of FADER's Now Issue now. The issue hits newsstands December 9th.

Letter From The Editor: Lol Nothing Matters