Discover more from Follow Friday
New episode! Bridget Todd, host of There Are No Girls on the Internet
Bridget talks about the podcast that changed her life, bringing chaos to the internet, and the social platform that she's actually optimistic about.
Welcome to the Follow Friday newsletter! I’m your host, Eric Johnson.
This week’s guest on Follow Friday is Bridget Todd, host of the award-winning podcast There Are No Girls on the Internet.
And a quick favor for anyone who wants to help us out: Could you go over to https://lovethepodcast.com/followfriday and leave us a rating or review on your platform of choice? It’s been a while since we’ve had any new reviews and I’d love to see some coming in. Thank you!
Bridget Todd (There Are No Girls On the Internet): 2+2 = applesauce, bringing chaos, three-way phone calls
There Are No Girls on The Internet is an award-winning podcast about people who have always been at the forefront of technology, but whose stories are often ignored or misrepresented. That's a big and sometimes contentious field, and TANGOTI host Bridget Todd says it's important to make space for everyone to work through difficult conversations about inclusion, rather than expecting everyone to "get it" right away.
"I've been in social change movements for a long time and I do think we have this expectation that we expect people to show up with the right ethos and the right language and the right perspective," Bridget says. "And I get that, but I also feel like it doesn't leave room to hear the messy conversations of how people become smarter, better, more nuanced, and more thoughtful."
Today on Follow Friday, she explains how to use social media when disinformation is circulating after a tragedy, how she has evolved her thinking about politics online, why she's optimistic about a new online platform for the first time in a while, and much more.
She also shares four great follow recommendations: Early podcaster and co-host of Uhh Yeah Dude Jonathan Larroquette (@jonathanlarroquette on Instagram); political pundit and former The View co-host Meaghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain on Twitter and Instagram); comedy writer and Showtime TV star Ziwe (@Ziwe on Twitter); and Somewhere Good CEO Naj Austin (@najaustin on Instagram and @najjmahal on Twitter).
And on Follow Friday's Patreon page, you can unlock an extended version of this interview in which Bridget shares a fifth bonus follow recommendation! Thank you to our amazing patrons: Jon, Justin, Amy, Yoichi, Danielle, Elizabeth, and Sylnai.
ERIC: Bridget, welcome to Follow Friday. So glad to have you here.
BRIDGET: I'm glad to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
ERIC: Well, congrats on the recent Shorty award that you won. There Are No Girls on the Internet, you have been on my wishlist for a long time. I'm so glad we finally found time to make this happen.
BRIDGET: Oh, I'm so flattered!
ERIC: I was saying before we started recording that it's a weird week. We're going to get to your fun, cool follow recommendations, but first, there's all this serious s**t going on in the world. And I do want to ask you about something that you're an expert in, which is disinformation and social media.
We're recording just a day after this shooting in Texas where a lot of children died. And right away, there are all these liars online who were spreading disinformation about who the shooter was. And this happens a lot. This is a pattern. People pollute our social media feeds and make it hard to know what's going on. It makes a sad situation even worse.
So, I'm wondering from the work that you've done on the podcast and otherwise, do you have any advice for individuals who are trying to deal with this, how they're seeing disinformation flood the feed and they're not sure what to believe or how to process all the stuff they're saying?
BRIDGET: Yeah. I appreciate that question. I think it's such a hard time to be talking about it. I don't know how folks will feel when this comes out, but for me, it feels very raw. We were just coming off of a wave of pretty brutal shootings in California and Buffalo. Then even before that conversation is done, where folks can process, here we are again.
I just want to hold space for that, because it's a lot. For me, I had a moment last night where I was just kind of enraged. I was on a run when I got the news alert about the shooting. And what made me so angry beyond just the unfathomable loss of these young people and their educators was the fact that I have seen this play out over and over again.
And I was like, there's one image of a young woman from a school shooting that I know they're going to circulate and say, "It's the same woman from Sandy Hook who was at Parkland. It was a false flag. She's an actor."
It's upsetting because I already knew the playbook that we were going to see. Also, there were some new hits, I guess, from folks who are using our internet platforms to spread inaccurate, dangerous information about an active crisis. We talk a lot about how sometimes it can be fringe extremists or bad actors who are doing this, but we also need to contend with the fact that in talking about this shooting, elected officials...
I think it was Rep. Gosar who said, completely based on nothing, that the perpetrator was trans, and that's not true. And from putting that out into our digital ecosystem, already, I have seen that narrative repeated over and over again.
Here we are. We have the name of the perpetrator; we know who they are. Yet, because of this irresponsible use of our digital platforms to spread lies, hate, and inaccuracies about people who are already marginalized and already underrepresented, this falsehood will persist.
So, for me, it's just enraging. I think that for anybody who feels like I do, who feels powerless perhaps in the face of all of this, it makes sense to feel that way. But we can all play a part in making sure that we're responding in a responsible, ethical way to the wave of BS that we're going to see about this shooting, and really that persists and pops up in any kind of crisis situation.
So, definitely don't engage with it. Even if you want to debunk it or point out how horrible it is, 9 times out of 10, because of the algorithmic nature of our social media platforms, you're actually helping that piece of content to grow and spread and become more powerful. So I would encourage folks to see this as an opportunity to practice mindfulness about how we're absorbing information on social media.
You don't have to retweet everything right away. Take a breath and really ask yourself, "Does this content that I'm about to share have verified information? Is it actually adding to the discourse in a way that is meaningful, that I need to be doing?"
I've already seen people tweeting things and then deleting them and then being like, "I said this and I wish I hadn't," because our emotions are hot. That's completely reasonable. But I would say, in this moment, taking a bit of time to practice mindfulness while we're using social media is key.
ERIC: I love that advice. I saw something someone tweeted yesterday. They said, "Unless your job specifically involves using social media, it's OK to close the apps and not be doom-scrolling all night."
I think that the well-intentioned idea of wanting to stay informed on whatever's happening in the world can lead to some of our worst behaviors. It can lead us to have these hair-trigger angry responses. It can lead us to spread disinformation unknowingly. It could lead to all these dark things, even though we may be approaching it with the best intentions of trying to read a lot and trying to keep abreast of everything.
BRIDGET: Totally. Last night, I completely logged off. I have been using the internet long enough to know what my physical and emotional response is when I'm triggered. And for me, it's exactly what you just described. It's feeling like I need to see and consume every single tweet, every single update, every new piece of information and move very quickly.
So, I caught myself last night, and I realized I am in a highly emotionally charged state where nothing that I put out into the wider social media ecosystem is going to be doing anybody any good anywhere, least of all me. At that moment, I was like, it's time for me to log off and take it to my journal, take it to my group chat, take it to my partner, and not take it to the wider ecosystem of social media. And that's fine.
There are other ways to process externally, other than social media. So learning to recognize your patterns and your triggers, whether it's over-consuming new updates on the news when it's heavy, or something else, I think it can be really good in a moment like this.
ERIC: Well, like I said, we are going to move on to your follow recommendations. You have a great list of some really fun, cool people who we should be following. I do hope that people take that advice for the future. Unfortunately, it does seem like this is not going to be the last of events like this. So, it's really good to bear in mind that there are ways to cope in that way.
But, let's turn to the positive side of social media. Let's find out who Bridget Todd follows online. You can follow along with us today. Every person she recommends will be linked in the show notes and in the transcript at followfridaypodcast.com/bridget.