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roller skating, sexuality, the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as prince

Alasdair Beckett-King, Morgan Sung, Lindsay Ellis, and Gavin Purcell: Bonus follows UNLOCKED

A collage of four illustrations: A man with long red hair and a beard; a woman holding two kittens and her iPhone; a woman in sunglasses looking away; and a man in a suit looking at the viewer.
(From top left, moving clockwise) Comedian Alasdair Beckett-King, NBC News journalist Morgan Sung, Way Too Interested host Gavin Purcell, and YouTuber/author Lindsay Ellis
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Supporters of the Follow Friday Patreon page get a shout-out on the podcast, exclusive previews of who's coming up on future episodes, and — most importantly — bonus podcasts, with follow recommendations from our amazing guests that didn't make it into the main episode.

Today on Follow Friday, we're unlocking four of those bonus episodes, which were originally available only to Patreon supporters. They feature ...

- Comedian Alasdair Beckett-King, recommending "aspiring philosopher" Liam Bright
- NBC News reporter Morgan Sung, recommending journalist/roller dancer Liz Brazile
- YouTuber and bestselling author Lindsay Ellis, recommending YouTuber Kat Blaque
- Way Too Interested host Gavin Purcell, recommending Glitch CEO Anil Dash

If you've been on the fence about joining the Patreon page, then today's show will give you a good idea of what to expect. You can pledge any amount you want, starting at just $1/month, at

Follow us:

- Alasdair is on YouTube @ABeckettKing and on Twitter @MisterABK
- Morgan is on Twitter @morgan_sung and on Instagram @ratsoverflowers
- Lindsay is on YouTube @LindsayEllisVids
- Gavin is on Twitter @gavinpurcell
- Follow us @followfridaypod on Twitter and Instagram
- Eric is on Twitter @heyheyesj

Theme song written by Eric Johnson, and performed by Yona Marie. Show art by Dodi Hermawan.

Thank you to our amazing patrons: Jon, Justin, Amy, Yoichi, Shinri, and Elizabeth

Full transcript of this episode
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ERIC JOHNSON: Today on Follow Friday, we're going to talk about the allegory of the cave, updating your priors, roller skating, sexuality, stubbornness, big tech, and the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.

But first, today's show is brought to you by The Edit from Timber. The Edit connects podcasters with industry professionals who will listen to their work and give them constructive feedback. Check them out at

[theme song]

ERIC: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, the podcast about who you should follow online.

Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow, and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more. If this is your first episode of the show, please take a moment now and follow or subscribe in your podcast app.

Another thing I do every week is just for our patrons at I release a bonus follow recommendation there that does not appear in the main show. So far, there have been 18 bonus minisodes, totaling more than 2 hours of additional material!

So, if you want the full guided tour, you should head on over to Patreon and support us there. It's a pay-what-you-want donation, so you can pay anything, starting at just one dollar a month. One dollar!

I mention all that because today, I'm unlocking some of those bonus episodes and sharing them here on the main podcast feed. If you've been on the fence about joining the Patreon page, then today's show will give you a good idea of what to expect there. It's just like the normal podcast, except, you know, there's just more of it.

Today, we're going to hear Patreon follow recommendations from four people who have been on the show before. First up is British comedian Alasdair Beckett-King, who recommended an account related to philosophy memes. Enjoy.

ERIC: Alasdair, I asked you for someone who's an expert in a very specific niche that you love. You said Liam Bright, who's on Twitter @lastpositivist.

Liam describes himself as an "aspiring philosopher" and "tolerable human." What's the niche that Liam is an expert in?

ALASDAIR BECKETT-KING: It's weird and arrogant of me to refer to philosophy as a niche, isn't it? The basic questions about our lives and our existence in reality ... a bit niche in my view.

ERIC: YouTube is more popular now. That's fine.

ALASDAIR: Yeah. It's not like sports or something everyone likes. It's just the nature of reality, is a bit niche.

ERIC: Take it or leave it.

ALASDAIR: Liam is a philosopher and an academic. I don't know how I stumbled on his Twitter, but his Twitter is very funny. Full of philosophy in-jokes and memes and strangely self-aggrandizing — ironically self-aggrandizing claims.

ERIC: Like what? What does he say? What's self-aggrandizing about what he says?

ALASDAIR: He won an award ... Some variation on, like, Leverhulme? I don't know how to say it.

ERIC: You can tell me it's pronounced any way. I will believe you.

ALASDAIR: If we were involved in research in British academia, we might have heard of that. We're not. He will bring that up an awful lot. I don't know if you remember when Ricky Gervais started winning awards. He was very smugly arrogant about it. He's like a likable version of that.

The thing is, I'm very much an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect when it comes to philosophy. I'm interested in it, but I don't really know much about it, so I imagine that I know loads about it. "Plato's cave? Yeah, I've heard of it. Yeah, I'm pretty much an expert on philosophy and general philosophical stuff."

His specific in-jokes remind me that I just don't know. I get a fraction of what's going on. I'm constantly having to look up phrases and references to try and work out what the joke is.

ERIC: When you see Liam posting something that you don't understand, you actually then go do research, to get the idea?

ALASDAIR: Oh yeah, I do the reading. Yeah, I do. I'm not being beaten by someone on Twitter. No. It's like listening in at the door as your parents have friends over. They're having a conversation. "You can't possibly understand it. It's too sophisticated and grown-up," so that's how I feel about that.

ERIC: That's what's going to make you read faster.

ALASDAIR: Yeah. Yes. I would hear things through the door and then I would go and look them up, like a cool kid.

ERIC: I attempted to look it up because Liam's Twitter handle is @lastpositivist. I tried to look up positivism. I looked at the Wikipedia article — really, the top of the Wikipedia article, for several minutes — and I maybe got it?

ALASDAIR: Wait, you didn't get down to the "other reading" section?

ERIC: Eh... No.

ALASDAIR: What about "in pop culture"? There's probably not "in pop culture" section for positivism.

ERIC: Do you have a sense, from your extensive research, of what positivism is?

ALASDAIR: Don't humiliate me, Eric. No, I can't tell you what positivism is. I can do some of them, but no, I can't explain what positivism is. This is why I admire his Twitter because to me, it's all bright colors and shapes. That is the reason. If I understood it, I'd probably be like, "Ah, nope, you've got that wrong," but because I only have a tiny grasp on it, it seems so dazzling.

ERIC: I think you should start replying to Liam's tweets with your own toppers of just like, "Hey, have you heard of Plato's allegory of the cave? Yeah."

ALASDAIR: "I don't know if you're familiar. Look up Socrates. I think you might find a few interesting nuggets. Couple of nuggets in the world of old Socrates."

ERIC: I was looking at Liam's tweets. We are recording this a few days after the Euros soccer championships, in which Italy killed off the last bit of national pride and unity that England had left.

Liam is sharing philosophy memes about the finals and about the Italy team versus the England team. It's this very familiar Twitter format where it's a comedian who is very well-versed in a specific idea or in pop culture or whatever, and just applying it to the current events of whatever people are talking about on Twitter.

It is fascinating just to look at his tweets and, as you're saying, it's all colors and shapes. It's just like, "Huh, that's probably funny. Anyway..."

ALASDAIR: I've always been a huge comedy nerd. Whenever I hear a joke, I want to know why it's funny, if I don't get it. I'm the bad reply guy. I'm the person who usually comes going, "Why is this funny? I need to know. I'm not going to laugh, but I have to know."

I would watch grown-up stuff and sitcoms that I didn't understand. I would notice the jokes I didn't understand, and I would make a note of it. I would want to try and understand what it is, and I guess that hasn't gone away. If people are laughing, I want to know why. I want to know how it works. I want to control and own all of the fun. That's what I'm saying.

ERIC: "It must be mine." Yeah.

ALASDAIR: Exactly. Just a rapacious fun thief, who wants to gather it all together and hoard it like a dragon, and then sleep on a huge bed of laughter. That's my plan.

ERIC: I'm wondering, all the research that you've done in order to start to understand Liam's jokes, do you feel you've personally bettered yourself by studying philosophy, accidentally?

ALASDAIR: It was through him that I found out a lot of people in academic Twitter were talking about Bayesian reasoning a while ago. I went away and tried to find out what Bayesian reasoning is. Do you know what Bayesian reasoning is?

ERIC: No clue. Absolutely no clue.

ALASDAIR: Bayes is a mathematician, and it's about assessing the likelihoods of things. The maths side of it is beyond me, but there's a pop version of it which has become quite popular. Which in its basic form is quite reasonable, which is that we don't have to believe or disbelieve something. You can be 50, 60, 70% confident of something.

This comes up a lot on Twitter. If someone is accused of a terrible crime, we haven't yet seen all of the evidence [and] they've been accused, we don't have to act as if we believe them to be innocent, but we equally don't have to act as if we believe them to be guilty because we don't yet know.

What the Bayesian folks say is, okay, well, you have prior assumptions that lead us to a level of confidence in something. But as new information comes in, we don't have to flip flop. You can go, "Okay, well, I was confident but now, well, here's the video of the guy doing the thing. Okay, so that is changing. I'm updating my priors." Now I might say "I'm 95% confident" or "I'm 100% confident."

I saw somebody on Twitter saying, "Well, I'm going to update my priors." No you won't, because you can't turn your beliefs into a percentage. That's the gap. That's the bit where you just make up a number that you think reflects how confident you are. That isn't maths! You aren't doing maths! What that is, is guessing. You're just guessing. Stop giving it a fancy name, you guessers.

Obviously, there is a version of Bayesian reasoning, which is about things for which we can be confident of numbers. That is, as far as I know, valid. The pop version of it that is going around on Twitter, I am deeply skeptical of. It sounds like a way of putting a philosophical gloss on "I reckon..." "I reckon this is the way it is, but if I'm wrong, I'll update my priors and then guess again, differently."

ERIC: What's the point of academia, if not to just put a gloss on top of not knowing anything? That's the whole idea.

ALASDAIR: As far as I know, you are right.

ERIC: That was Liam Bright, who's on Twitter @lastpositivist, as recommended by comedian Alasdair Beckett-King. You can find the rest of his follows in the main podcast feed. Just scroll back to late July.

Next up is a recommendation from journalist Morgan Sung, who was writing for Mashable when she came on the podcast in August. Recently, though, she took at job at NBC News, which already was already doing some of my favorite reporting about the internet, and now the team is even stronger with her there. But here is Morgan talking about another passion of hers, besides journalism.

ERIC: Morgan, let's move on to your next follow, which is someone you just started following. You said it's Liz Brazile, who's on Instagram @fairyquadmuva. I was hoping someone like this would come up because you and Liz are both very into roller skating. You wrote a great piece about skating for Mashable last year that everyone should read. Talk about why you love what Liz posts.

MORGAN SUNG: Liz is also a journalist. I followed her literally two days ago. I found her on Instagram because I picked up roller skating when I first moved to LA, but I wasn't really seriously doing it. It was the kind of thing where like I owned roller skates and I touched them maybe twice a year, tops.

Then during the pandemic, I was feeling just really bad about myself for never being active and feeling like I was surrounded by screens all the time. So I picked up roller skating again and it became a huge passion of mine. At this point, I have a very close family of people who also roller skate.

I've gotten way more connected with the LA queer community through roller skating. It's kept me active and forced me to go outside. Even in the depths of pandemic depression being like I haven't gone outside in four days, no wonder I'm in such a bad mood.

So I follow a lot of roller skaters and she had come up on my Explore page. I was watching her do one of these moves I was trying to replicate and I found out she's actually also a journalist. She is up in the local Seattle NPR station and I was just like, "That's so cool, another journalist who skates." I just think she's pretty freaking cool.

ERIC: Both of you have been kind of documenting your progress with learning how to do new skating moves and dancing on roller skates. I'm not a skater, so I'm very easy to impress, but as someone who has been skating for a while now, how impressive are Liz's moves?

Are you watching from a position of being able to be like, "Okay, I can try that this weekend"? Or are you watching her videos and being like, "Wow, that is beyond my comfort level right now"?

MORGAN: I look at her videos and I'm like, "That's something I want to learn." It'll take a month of practice, but it's something achievable, which is also what I really like about all of her posts. None of them feel like ... she's an incredible skater, but at the same time, none of her posts seem unattainable.

I think she was also a pandemic skater. She mentioned on her Instagram that she started last summer, about the same time I did. It's the kind of thing where, specifically roller skaters who learned during the pandemic didn't learn from coaches or from formal lessons. They all learned from each other and from watching videos online. I just think that she's so cool.

ERIC: For a new skater, someone who has not started skating yet, what's your advice for people who want to start? If they want to, in a year's time, be like you and Liz, what skates should you buy? What do you think is the best way to learn right now, while we're still in pandemic times?

MORGAN: In terms of what skates you should buy, ignore Reddit, ignore Instagram. My first pair of skates was a very cheap pair of skates that fell apart quickly because they were pretty, but not really designed for hardcore skating.

I totally got lost in the Reddit forums being like, "Oh my God, you need to pay like $1,200 for these custom skates that Olympic figure skaters wear." Or, "You need to do this to your skates. You need to customize that." It's really overwhelming. You really don't need all that information.

If you can, go to your local skate shop and be like, "Hey, I'm a new skater and here are my goals." If you want to just learn how to roller skate outside, that's one category of skates. If you want to learn how to do dance skating like Liz does, that's another different kind of skating.

I've been learning a lot about park skating at the skatepark, and that's a different kind of skate. What I did was I just gave up. I called my local skate shop and I was like, "Hey, I'm overwhelmed. Can I just come in?" They were delightful. I drove like an hour out of LA and ... so it wasn't really that local, but it was a Southern California, independently owned skate shop.

I just went in and tried on a bunch of stuff. And I was like, I think I want to build my own skates. They're like, "Here are all the parts you need to do it yourself." "Here's what you can keep in mind." And I was like, "That's cool."

So, definitely going in person if you can and talking to people who know what they're talking about instead of getting lost in the rabbit holes of Reddit forums and Instagram comments and discourse about which skates…

There is a whole elitism in roller skating, that you have to pay a ton of money to be counted as a real roller skater, which is not true. I learned to skate on a s**ty $60 pair of skates. They did fine. I used them for almost a year and a half and they were perfectly fine. They weren't great. When I finally got nicer skates, I was like, "Oh my God, this is great." I'm very much in the mentality of if you can skate on something falling apart, you can skate on anything.

As for new skaters who do own skates, just bend your knees, keep your knees bent.

ERIC: That was Liz Brazile, who's on Instagram @fairyquadmuva, as recommended by journalist Morgan Sung. We're going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with more unlocked follow recommendations from the Follow Friday Patreon.

Today's show is brought to you by The Edit from Timber. If you have a podcast, you're probably proud of what you've made, and that's great. You should be. Creating something new is always wonderful. But that doesn't mean you can't make it better, and The Edit from Timber can help you with that. For only $20 a month, you'll get constructive feedback on your podcast from industry professionals like Skye Pillsbury, Jenna Spinelle, Shruti Ravindran, and me, Eric Johnson. Sign up today at That's

And just a reminder that all of the follow recommendations you are hearing today come from the Follow Friday Patreon page, and you can get new bonus recommendations every week for as little as a dollar a month. Head on over to to get bonus episodes with people like Freddie Wong from RocketJump, Kara Swisher from the New York Times, and Dave Jorgenson from the Washington Post. That's

Welcome back to Follow Friday. Next up, we have a bonus follow recommendation from Lindsay Ellis, who runs an outstanding YouTube channel and is also the author of two bestselling sci-fi novels, Axiom's End and Truth of the Divine. I was really surprised by this pick from Lindsay because it's someone who has maybe challenged her on certain topics. Our conversation gets into some heavy stuff, but it's really good — enjoy.

ERIC: Lindsay, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for "Someone who makes you think," and you said Kat Blaque, who's on YouTube @KatBlaque. She's also on Twitter and Instagram @kat_blaque.

In her YouTube bio, Kat says the theme of her videos is "how we can relate to each other more and fight against the things that divide us, while not losing sight of our own boundaries." Talk about the videos that she makes and what they mean to you.

LINDSAY ELLIS: It's interesting because she loves taking on hot topics. And as a Black transgender woman, [she] is already kind of a lightning rod where people will automatically maybe assume the worst or see her as a target.

Even though she'll always have a really strong opinion, she'll try to approach them with a really empathetic lens. Whenever a topic comes up, even on Twitter ... And I should say, I only chose YouTubers because Twitter is bad for you. No one should use it. Everyone should stop using it.

She, when on Twitter, will definitely try to feel out a topic, try to get all sides of a topic before presenting her own opinion to the world.

ERIC: She also recently launched a podcast called True Tea. In May, she did a whole episode about something you said.

LINDSAY: Yeah, I was on it!

ERIC: We literally don't have enough time to recount this whole story, but I think the very short version, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that several years ago, you wrote something about how bisexual people are perceived differently than other queer people. Then this was dug up by some people who are not fans of your work and was being used as a criticism of you.

Am I in the ballpark there, of what Kat was responding to?

LINDSAY: It was this question of, do bisexual people in straight-passing relationships, even if you are both non-binary, or bisexual or whatever, if society perceives you as a heterosexual relationship, is that a form of privilege even if it is also a form of erasure?

My attitude was, yes, I think it is because even if erasure is painful and is harmful on a personal level, privilege is not an internal process. It is how people treat you. Privilege, as a concept, is purely external.

If your life is easier; if people treat you as the default just based on the way you are perceived, it's not that you don't suffer or struggle, but that is a form of privilege. Your life is easier because people perceive you as the cultural default.

It's a really sensitive subject, because I saw the gamut of bisexual women in particular. I think it also is an age thing. The younger crowd tended to be really angry at this idea that erasure can be a form of privilege, but older women — like, my age — tended to be like, "Yeah, I think about this a lot. I do feel a kind of imposter syndrome, especially if I'm married or in a long-term relationship, I haven't really experienced any form of persecution."

Especially within your family, if you are in a long-term head heterosexual relationship, your family will be, "It was a phase and you grew out of it." Then they assume that it's over. It's not like that, on a personal level, can't be harmful to you, but at the same time, it's, again, privilege is a function of how society treats you.

That was my thought. I don't know ... I both understand and don't understand why it upsets people so much because, at the end of the day, it's not a provable thing. It's just an opinion, man. Is this harming people? I don't know. Maybe. I don't think it is.

I don't feel the anger at that statement really comes from the statement itself. I think it comes from antipathy towards me personally and that's why people focused on it. Otherwise, I don't think it really makes sense to focus on this idea as a thing that is doing harm to the bisexual community, relative to the myriad, million other things.

ERIC: Sure. As you mentioned, Kat is a Black trans woman. A lot of her videos are dealing with gender issues, with transness, with sexuality. On her podcast, she did, initially, it's a long response to it by herself, then maybe you dialed into a later episode.

LINDSAY: It was one long episode that she divided into two. Basically, she is very aggressively straight, like zero interest in women at all. She was coming into this conversation, fascinated by it, because she was also coming in with her own baggage, having dated like bisexual men versus straight men, and the way straight men treat the queer community as a thing that is a fun romp I might play with for a while, but when it's time to settle down, I'm going to go for something more "normal."

So, her attitude was, it is a subconscious thing that maybe you are drawn to normalcy in your long-term relationships, like the cultural default. There were a lot of people who were just outraged by this idea that maybe subconsciously, people are more likely to couple in a way that is more in line with the cultural default just because it's easier. Especially if you have a close relationship with your family, it's less controversial to them.

People were just like, "How dare you? I love my husband." It's like, the person you choose to be with isn't just a person. They're a whole package, including their gender, including their family, including their sexuality, including their race. And all of these factors combine into your subconscious pros and cons category.

Kat's basic argument was that in her experience, she did find that even with bisexual men when it came to time to settle down, they'd lose interest in her and go for a cisgender woman, and usually, a cisgender white woman. Was it because they're necessarily racist? Probably not, but it's a trend that she's noticed.

Her idea was, yeah, it makes sense that, on a subconscious level, they maybe want to go for what's culturally easier, what's the default, what's going to be the path of least resistance.

Again, I feel like especially as a Black trans woman living in LA, a big part of the kink and BDSM community, sharing anecdotal experience should not be a basis for anger. I feel a lot of people are insecure about this and that's part of the basis of the anger whenever you're confronted with this idea that maybe you did choose your straight male partner because your family wouldn't be as s**ty as if you were with a woman or a trans person.

Maybe on a subconscious level, you were drawn to this person because they felt more secure. And to be confronted with that, especially as progressives, I guess it can be traumatizing, but I don't think it's fair for that to be a basis to be angry about, especially if it's someone else sharing their anecdotal experiences.

ERIC: Was this whole exchange your introduction to Kat's channel?

LINDSAY: Oh no. I've known her for years.

ERIC: Really? Would you say you were friends with her or?

LINDSAY: I was introduced to her channel through another mutual friend, ContraPoints. That was like four or five years ago. We both live in LA. We'll cross paths at industry parties or VidCon, or at least we did, back before the world stopped. Sometimes we'll hang out in person. So I'd say we're friends.

ERIC: Well, I'm just wondering, separate from this incident that involved what you had written, how do her videos make you think differently? What's something that you've learned from watching her videos or some perspective you've gained from being a fan of hers?

LINDSAY: Well, I can be extremely stubborn, almost like it's binaristic, whenever I have a strongly held opinion. And it's not like she doesn't have strongly held opinions, but she tries to at least engage with multiple points of view even if she doesn't necessarily respect them, regardless of whether or not they are worthy of respect, which a lot of times they're not. But I think in order to decide whether or not you're going to respect a point of view, you do need to understand it.

I think a lot of times my default is to shut down whenever I see some sort of Ben Shapiro-ish point of view, where I'm like, "This isn't worthy of my time or thought." And it's like, well, no, if you're going to have a strong opinion about it, you should take the time to understand where it's coming from.

I think that doesn't really come naturally to people. I think that's a muscle you have to exercise. She's very good about that and a lot of times, she, in exploring that, will introduce points of view that even if I don't necessarily respect it, it's better to understand it.

ERIC: That was Kat Blaque, who's on YouTube @KatBlaque. Last but certainly not least on today's Patreon-unlocked episode of Follow Friday, we have a pick from Gavin Purcell, the host of Way Too Interested.

Gavin came on the show a few weeks ago, and I always love talking to him. I've been helping him out with Way Too Interested behind the scenes, and I'm so proud of what we're making. His bonus follow is a type of person we don't get super often on the podcast — a tech CEO. But as you're about to hear, this is not your typical Silicon Valley bro. It's someone who I personally think is much cooler. Enjoy.

ERIC: Gavin, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone you have followed forever. And you said Anil Dash who is on Twitter @anildash. He's the CEO of the web app development company Glitch. And he's been writing and blogging and podcasting about the internet for a good long while. How did you first start following him?

GAVIN PURCELL: Well, I honestly, I think it was very early days of Twitter. Anil has been around the digital space forever. This goes back to like, you know, I mentioned this earlier, but there was a really special time in the mid-2000s where web 2.0 first started and before Twitter became, you know, the Twitter that it is today, or even five years ago.

ERIC: Before it became the place that literally every journalist on the planet hangs out and every celebrity has to ... yeah.

GAVIN: Or presidents do terrible things on, you know, it became everything, right? It became a crazy place. And back then, the beginning of Twitter was very small and charming and you know, the South by Southwest it launched at was very small.

And like, there was this really small community, and Anil is one of those people. And I think I followed him first before I even... In fact, I think he was on one of the initial Twitter follow lists. There was a thing in the Twitter world where earlier on these people kind of got a ton of followers because they were "suggested follows."

Felicia [Day] might've been on that list at one point and people like that. So Anil, I think he still has like a million followers. And not that he's not ... he should, he's smart and funny, but he's, not like a giant celebrity and I think he got an early boost early on. But I followed him then.

And then, we didn't know each other that much. I think we had a couple of exchanges. But then I think he and I started to exchange more when I went to go work at Late Night. Because Anil, one of my favorite things about Anil is he's a brilliant guy, has been in the web business for a long time, you know, has done a lot of really interesting stuff in the web, but he is so ... he's like the biggest Prince fan I know.

And he is, like, obsessed by Prince in a way that like ... there's a couple other people I know like this, and one of them is Questlove, by the way. But Anil is just like super obsessed. And I think when I got the job at Fallon, because of Quest, and Anil knew that Quest was also obsessed, he and I started exchanging a lot more, and we sorta become friends.

And like, he's just like one of those guys who, there's something about people that are around your age that have the same sort of interests, that you just connect with. You know, I'm in my mid-40s and like you just have similar sort of like reference points to stuff.

So Anil and I were like that. I think he's super, super smart, super interesting. He also just tweets a bunch of interesting stuff around the tech world and also [is] like amazingly aware of social situations and social movements going on. And I think somebody it's really important to listen to for that, especially on the tech side, right?

Because we hear a lot on Twitter about social movements in a good way. And obviously we should, it's one of the best uses of the platform, but Anil does a good job of kind of discerning what the social tech side of it all is. And I think has a really smart take on it, generally.

ERIC: Yeah, very similar to Zito [Madu] in some ways, which is that if you follow Anil, I mean, he's on Twitter a lot. It's going to be a lot of tweets incoming, but you gain a lot of value for your follow.

GAVIN: That's exactly right.

ERIC: 'Cause he's talking about social movements. He's talking about tech, he's talking about politics, he's retweeting funny, high-quality viral tweets. There's a lot of good stuff going on on his feed. Yeah.
GAVIN: It's another one of those people that uses Twitter as an extension of themselves, rather than trying to create a brand. To me, that's like the best use of social media is, "don't worry what people are thinking about, about what you're tweeting, just tweet the thing."

And sometimes I've treated the dumbest things in the world and, you know, at one point I was like, deleting things. "It didn't get engagement." And I was like, you know what? This is just, why? It's like, I don't care how many people follow me.

Ultimately, it's like, if you're going to like the stuff I put out, you're going to like it. If not, that's okay. There's 7 billion people in the world, you know? There's a whole bunch of more people that are interested in it and want new stuff.

ERIC: I sometimes just tweet out really asinine hot takes about movies or whatever. And literally the only person who will like them is my friend from grad school, David. And I don't care. Those tweets are just for David. If no one else likes them, then too bad.

GAVIN: Exactly! That's great. And honestly, like, why not? Cause it's going to get forgotten about anyway. I mean, again, that's one of the beauties of social media is that like it's disposable, right?
So like, it doesn't cost anybody anything to just have it scroll by them. And most people, it goes by quick, most people, they don't even see it. It's a cool way to just kind of like figure out yourself, going back to voice a little bit.

ERIC: Exactly. So Anil used to host a podcast for Vox called Function, which is about how "technology shapes culture and communications."

But I think that description doesn't really do it justice. I mean, I think what I really like about following Anil, and when he did on the podcast as well, as he's a tech CEO who is also very explicit about, you know, these are risks and dangers, and here's really important -- as you're mentioning -- social issues and other sort of ... he's not just a rah-rah cheerleader type guy.

He's also very cognizant of bad things that may be caused by how technology is changing the world. It's not all up into the right, as they would say.

GAVIN: A hundred percent.

ERIC: I dunno, is there anything that you remember that he has podcasted about or written about, something that he has done that has changed your mind, has nudged you in some way to think about technology differently?

GAVIN: I think he was one of the first people, and this could be totally wrong and I'm sorry if this is wrong, but I think he was one of the first people that stuck with me, the idea that like big tech is... Scary's the wrong word, but we kind of have to keep our eye on big tech, right?

And I think that that was a pretty early take of his, in a good way. And obviously, with all the stuff that Facebook's been through, you know, pretty cognizant in a lot of ways too. And I think that having a voice like that. It's almost like having a tech ombudsman, like somebody that's like keeping an eye on the culture is a really cool thing.

ERIC: For folks who don't know, an ombudsman is a person typically embedded in a newsroom who is a journalist reporting on the operations of the newsroom and kind of keeping the rest of the organization in check, in away, responding to questions about ethics and concerns submitted by readers, things like that. Sorry to interrupt.

GAVIN: Exactly. And that's kind of the way I see him. And now, it's interesting. You know that tech community, at least the social web community that started in the mid-2000s was so small. And I was not like an active part of it. I was kind of from the outside watching it, but I was at least aware of it.

And then it grew to such a big thing that in some ways, those voices like Anil's don't get heard by the biggest parts of them anymore, but they need to be, right? It's like in the same way that an ombudsman at the Times or somewhere would work. It would be great to have them be reviewing, in a much bigger thing, because those tech companies ... and, you know, God bless the tech companies. They're giant and they've done some incredible things, and scary things.

And like, I'm not here to judge one way or the other, but like, there need to be, at least, people keeping an eye on them, and then also there needs to be people writing about what sort of things they're doing and talking about and how that affects the rest of us.

ERIC: That was Anil Dash, who is on Twitter @anildash. Thanks again to Alasdair Beckett-King, Morgan Sung, Lindsay Ellis, and Gavin Purcell for coming on Follow Friday, and for sharing all their follows with me. If you missed any of their previous appearances, then do yourself a favor and go back to those episodes. They are super.

Normally, I'd ask the guest to tell us how to follow them, but let me do a lightning round on their behalf: Alasdair is on YouTube at ABeckettKing, Morgan is on Twitter at morgan underscore sung, Lindsay is on YouTube at Lindsay Ellis Vids, and Gavin is on Twitter at gavinpurcell.

Follow me on Twitter at @HeyHeyESJ and don't forget to check out for new bonus episodes every week.

Follow Friday's theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan.

That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs … and when you do, say something nice. See you next Friday.

Our theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan.

That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs. And when you do, say something nice. See you next Friday!

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