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Welcome to 24 Hours Online, where we ask one extremely internetty person to document a day in their life looking at screens.
Last year, Emma Eun-joo Choi was an intern at the longtime NPR radio show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! Today she’s the host of its newest spinoff, Everyone & Their Mom, a shortform comedy podcast where Wait Wait panelists and comedians discuss the inescapable topic du jour. But unlike, say, Peter Sagal, she records episodes from her dorm room at Harvard, where she’s finishing up her junior year.
Being the institution’s first-ever Gen Z host comes with its hardships; for instance, having to explain to her coworkers what the hottest new app for college kids is (it’s BeReal), answering Instagram DMs from all her friends’ moms, and trying to pay attention in her poetry lecture while researching upcoming guests on the show. But Choi has grown up with the internet (she was in seventh grade when Snapchat came out), so multitasking online is practically second nature.
During her 24 Hours Online, she discusses the extremely relatable experience of curating a wedding-centric Pinterest board despite not wanting to get married any time soon, and psychoanalyzes her online window shopping habits. Here she is, in her own words:
I wake up on accident, which is annoying. I do the New York Times Spelling Bee puzzle until I hit “genius” level. The Wait Wait staff loves it; I didn’t start playing until they started. Then I go back to sleep.
I wake up again and find a few more words on the Spelling Bee just to show the NYT who’s boss. I scroll through Twitter and respond to some Instagram DMs. A weird number of my high school friends’ moms have been reaching out, because a Vanity Fair piece about me just came out. It’s always nice to hear from Carol!
I browse the Lisa Says Gah sale — avant basic! — but find nothing. I’m always online shopping because I have an unhealthy addiction to getting dresses. I check the Shop app to see if my shirt from ODDLI, which is this Instagram brand that uses deadstock fabric to make T-shirts with your name on them, is here yet. It’s not 🙁
A new episode of my show drops, so I add it to my Instagram Story and tweet about it. The vibe of the show is like, when you go to a party and there’s a corner where a group is talking about everything. It’s very chaotic and dense, and deeply fun.
I am on Slack. Just assume I am always on Slack. We have a Slack channel called “NPR Spills,” which is just everyone at NPR showing other grown people what they spilled that day, like soup.
I’m getting ready to write a collection of short stories for my senior thesis in creative writing. I pitched a collection of horror stories because I like writing genre fiction. It involves a lot of research, so I read my adviser’s story in Threepenny Review and re-read Allegra Goodman’s “La Vita Nuova,” which is beautiful.
I fuck up my search history because I’m making a PowerPoint with Peter Sagal for the upfronts (when podcasts present their latest work to potential advertisers), which means I have to search for random photos about, like, “What is life?” Then I search to see if there are any whale watching tours going on in Boston right now, but apparently it’s not whale watching season yet.
Before class I watch some Philly Philly Wang Wang, which is a Netflix special from a British comedian, and then clips from when Conan O’Brien pretended to be a Civil War reenactor back in the early aughts. I’m a lifelong Conan superfan.
I watch TikTok as I walk up the stairs to my dorm room. I do this to motivate myself to walk up said stairs. My For You page is a lot of teen pregnancies, wedding preparations, and fashion girlies buying expensive things and unboxing them. And then there’s the surreal, Vine energy stuff, like a boar running super fast while Florence and the Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over” plays. I watched that one like, 10 times.
I pretend to pay attention in class while I do background research on one of our upcoming guests, astronaut Victor Glover. The professor starts talking about Marxist theory and so I go to my notes app and type, “I no longer know what we’re talking about” and show it to my friend.
3 pm to 6 pm
I’m in tapings for the next few hours, so in between I scroll idly through Pinterest and add to my home, style, yarn, and wedding dress boards. I don’t want to get married any time soon, but god, I love weddings. I’ve been adding to this Pinterest board since 2012; if you scroll all the way to the bottom it’s the most hideous dresses you’ve ever seen and like, Mason jar candles. I’m fascinated by how a wedding dress means so much to a bride — it’s not just a dress, it’s an encapsulation of her personality, her wealth, her social status, and it’s going to be in her pictures forever.
Then I scroll through Net-a-Porter and sort the dresses from most expensive to least. It sounds stupid but I just love looking at beautiful things; it scratches a really specific itch. I love imagining the kind of woman that would wear a hideous $12,000 Jacquemus dress.
Time to post my BeReal! It’s kind of the cool app right now. I think it appeals to my group because it’s low commitment — you post a picture in the moment once a day at a specific time — and it connects you to your friends because you get to see what everyone’s doing. At the same time, there’s still a little bit of bragging because if people take the BeReals of each other, you can tell they’re hanging out. This past week all my posts have been during Zoom meetings, and my friends are like, “You’re girlbossing too hard.”
I look up the rest of the New York Times crossword answers and then work on tomorrow’s. I scroll through Thriftwares, which is an Instagram account where I recently bought a vintage ’90s NPR T-shirt, because I love to embody my stereotype. My nighttime routine is scrolling through more TikToks, scrolling through Instagram, scrolling through Twitter, checking my email, and then watching more TikToks until I get tired.
I have a complicated relationship with my screen time. Growing up I wasn’t allowed to watch TV on weekdays, and I wasn’t even allowed to have my phone upstairs with me until college. So watching TikToks until I go to sleep is a very new thing for me. I still think of it as a dangerous treat that I should enjoy quickly until someone takes it away. But now it’s part of my job, and it’s fun; it’s what everyone talks about at school. At the same time, my vision is shit now and I don’t drink enough water, so my head hurts.
Total screen time:
6 hours, 10 minutes
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