July 20, 2024


Epicurean Science & Tech

24 hours online with TikTok culture critic Rayne Fisher-Quann

6 min read
24 hours online with TikTok culture critic Rayne Fisher-Quann

Welcome to 24 Hours Online, where we ask one extremely internetty person to document a day in their life looking at screens.

If you’re on a certain corner of Gen Z-leftist-feminist-media-criticism TikTok, you already know Rayne Fisher-Quann, a 20-year-old writer who’s been big on the internet ever since she joined it: As a teenager in Toronto, she grew a sizable Instagram following because her best friend got famous on a Nickelodeon show, and since then she’s built equally formidable audiences on Tumblr, Twitter, and most recently TikTok, where she discusses feminism, leftism, mental illness, and, well, herself.

“I have always been very good at getting people to pay attention to me, and that’s not necessarily a positive personality trait,” she says. During her 24 Hours Online, which took place in mid-February, Fisher-Quann experiences the terror of going viral, reads about the vibe shift, and reflects on the very 21st century dissonance of commodifying oneself while critiquing the concept of self-commodification

Here she is, in her own words:

9 am

Every day I wake up at 9 am, name-search on social media to make sure everything’s gone well, and then go back to sleep. This is my worst and most obsessive habit. I pretend it’s because of my evolutionary desire to gossip or whatever and not just a symptom of low-grade narcissism.

Today someone said I’m their literary Phoebe Bridgers. Someone else was like, “What the fuck is wrong with Rayne Fisher-Quann? Please take a multivitamin.” Fair.

I have a flurry of notifications and a couple hundred new followers from a podcast I recorded a while back. It’s my friend’s podcast Binchtopia, which people call “Red Scare for good people.” We talked about accountability and leftism. It’s a very big podcast so I was sort of nervous, but it was received super well.

A TikTok video I posted yesterday got 100,000 views overnight. If you talk to somebody who isn’t on the internet and you tell them, “I went viral,” they’ll be like, “Congrats, that’s amazing!” And if you tell that to someone who is on the internet, they’ll be like, “I’m so sorry, are you okay?” Once your video starts getting 100,000 to 300,000 views, that’s when it enters a crowd that isn’t used to you or the things you talk about.

11 am

My followers notice that I washed my hair and congratulate me. I’m very transparent about my mental illnesses online, and my followers know that I only wash my hair once or twice a month, it’s sort of like an inside joke. I find it very freeing to be like, “I’m sort of disgusting.”

There’s definitely a lot of pressure with women in my position to do the cool-girl persona, the hot girl intellectual, the writer in a babydoll dress. I think some people definitely view me as one of the cool girls, but I realized a while ago that I couldn’t aim for that. I’m just not put together enough. I’m trying to carve out this space that feels a bit different, where I look like shit and wear the same sweater for a week and never wash my hair and still sort of imbue that with its own eroticism. I think it’s very sensual to be grubby.

I browse [the Instagram account devoted to cringe TikToks] @favtiktoks420 and @atlboards, which is a boutique bulk candy distributor in Atlanta who arranges gummy candy onto plastic boards and sells them for hundreds of dollars. Her videos take on a surreal, almost dadaist quality when you watch enough of them. She is constantly getting into controversies and her comments are always literally nothing but violent, vitriolic hatred and she just keeps posting video after video of her playing around with bulk candy slathered in grease. I would like to write and direct an art-house film about her someday.

I do the Wordle and kill it. Not to brag.

2 pm

I make a TikTok about vocal fry. I haven’t had a ton of energy for serious analytical videos lately — maybe depression, maybe because TikTok is sort of losing its vibe for me. When I started on TikTok there was this cohort of young, really smart women talking about feminism and politics, and of the people who were popular when I started, I think I’m the only one still doing it. The capacity for nuance is so low and the attention spans are so low. I think I got in at the right time, but I feel like people are craving longer-form content.

That’s why my Substack has been really good to me. I don’t like how intimately my appearance and my voice and the quality of my equipment affect the way that my message is received.

I try to take a cute selfie for IG while brushing my teeth and accidentally drool 100 percent of the toothpaste onto my shirt.

I read the Cut’s “vibe shift” article. Everyone has very developed takes on it, but I was entertained. The shift toward “indie sleaze” or whatever is good for me personally, because I’m pretty gross. I feel like I have a visual stink that you can’t wash out.

4 pm

I hit 28k followers on IG. Instagram advertising gets to me: I finally bite the bullet and make a Skims order. I’ve been wearing the same bra every day for like, three years.

6 pm

I watch, like, three hours of Inventing Anna. There’s nothing I love more than shitty TV. It’s not even ironic enjoyment! Like, I love The Bachelor.

A lot of people have been tagging me in a very nice TikTok! It’s weird to see people’s negative opinions of me, but it sometimes almost feels even weirder to see people’s positive opinions of me.

10 pm

I post the picture of me drooling toothpaste on myself on Instagram, and it gets 4,000 likes. I briefly wonder what people from high school think of me.

11 pm

I wish I was better at not being on the internet, but unfortunately it’s something I really crave and also that I am just really good at. I have always been very good at getting people to pay attention to me, and that’s not necessarily a positive personality trait. I really respect people who are completely offline and who aren’t self-commodifying. Looking back at my posts feels like when you’re at a party in middle school and realize too late that you’ve been talking louder than everyone else.

Sometimes my social media presence is like gonzo journalism of myself, which is in itself a deeply narcissistic endeavor. But it’s hard to find depictions of mental illness and womanhood on the internet that aren’t completely sanitized and aren’t put through this careerist lens. I have very difficult OCD and chronic depression, and when people talk about mental illness on the internet, very frequently it’s either this extremely palatable, sanitized version of mental illness, or it’s hopeless and nihilistic. What I try to do is show in intense detail what it’s like to be exceptionally mentally ill and not hate myself for it. I make it very clear that I have compassion for myself, and I think that’s important for people to see that you can have all of these things wrong with you and still care about getting better.

I go to sleep. I think I definitely have gotten over the hump of feeling entirely overwhelmed by the weight of other people’s opinions of me. It comes up now and again, but most of the time, it’s just fun. I’m a woman who loves attention.

Total screen time:

7 hours, 40 minutes

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