Ugh, Mental Health and the Internet

Edition 30: July 2021

Happy August, friends.

At the beginning of summer (HOW is it almost over?), I joined the rest of the depressed people on the internet and became obsessed with Bo Burnham’s new special, Inside. It’s a perfect musical encapsulation of what a year of pandemic did to all (or at least many) of us, performed by one of the earliest internet ~celebrities~ who has since become a sort of philosopher on the subject.

After five viewings, hundreds of listens through the album, infinite TikTok memes, and hours of combing through old interviews with Bo, I’m finding myself taking stock of how I use the internet. Last time, I wrote about how I’ve burned myself out on books because I’m trying to side-hustle my way through everything that brings me joy. When I’m not doing that, I’m mindlessly scrolling through social feeds and feeling bad about myself.

I know writing about the internet on the internet is ridiculous, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m trying to cut back on my Twitter / Instagram / TikTok time. I set up Screen Time on my phone to kick me out of social apps after two hours every day. About half of the time, I hit “ignore timer” when the alert comes up. But I’m working on it. Maybe one day I’ll prefer real life to internet life.

I hope you’re finding peace and comfort wherever you are.

What I read

🧠 Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person by Anna Mehler Paperny: This is incredible. Anna Mehler Paperny makes herself completely vulnerable in this heavy book about her multiple suicide attempts, psychiatric hospital stays, and experiences with a rainbow of medications and treatments. But the meat of the book is her journalistic work on how the medical field does a disservice to psychiatric patients. She interviews practitioners, scientists, and fellow mentally ill humans to get the full scope of the impact depression and suicide has on the world—and why we feel like we aren’t supposed to openly talk about it. A note: Please do not pick up this book until you’re in a strong, healthy mental state.

💪 Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal: Leni and Nelly are two BFFs on the cheerleading squad who organize taking a knee during the national anthem at the first football game of the school year. But the only one who gets punished for it is Nelly, who is Black. Their friendship is on the line, as are their futures, as Leni recovers from her latest concussion and Nelly has to figure out how to expunge her suspension from her record. It’s a story of figuring out who you are and what you’ll stand—or kneel—for. Put this on your radar for October.

🔥 Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell: If you like learning about cults and/or language and/or multi-level marketing, you need to get your hands on this book.

🐛 Gory Details: Adventures From the Dark Side of Science by Erika Engelhaupt: Weird, gross science! With humor! That’s it, that’s the pitch.

What I wrote

I paired some good books with songs from Inside, because of course I did. And then John Green tweeted about it and actually, my ghost is writing this newsletter right now.


Crooked Reads is a monthlyish newsletter from Ashley Holstrom.

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