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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

Internet

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

Express Yourself

Oxford says the origins of ‘yikes’ are unknown, but could it be traced back as far as Latin?

A dilapidated one-story building with “yikes” graffittied over a window, behind a chain-link fence.
A dilapidated one-story building with “yikes” graffittied over a window, behind a chain-link fence.

It’s a yikes from me, dog. That aging comedian’s most recent tweet is a big yikes in my book. Excuse me, sir, could you please refrain from being so extremely yikes? That’s the way (aha aha) I yikes it.

Yikes is an Internet 101 word. And, as often happens when a word becomes inescapable, it has broken out of its original niche; ask anyone who positions themselves among the “extremely online” and they’ll tell you it’s so much more than just a cry of horror or surprise. The sentences I give above (alright, maybe bar the last one) demonstrate the…


This Is Us

It’s about so much more than advice-seeking and finger-pointing

Black and white photo of a person on their laptop, face obscured.
Black and white photo of a person on their laptop, face obscured.

Like thousands upon thousands of other people, I love reading “Am I the Asshole?” on Reddit. I first encountered AITA through Twitter when an account that reposts particularly juicy threads kept popping up in my timeline. One thing led to another, and I’m now an unabashed asshole addict. Every few days for the past few months, I log on and get my fill of roommate drama, relationship woes, and family fallouts. Locked down and hungry for human interaction, I find a sense of connection here, though I’ve never actually commented or voted on a thread. …


Fiction

I thought I’d never be able to live without the internet. And then.

Person typing on laptop against blue light.
Person typing on laptop against blue light.

I opened my eyes. I was expecting an explosion, but there was none. I curled up in a ball behind the sofa. I popped my pill.

Elaine walked in. “What are you doing over there?”

“I was preparing myself — for the event.”

“It was electronic. You knew that.”

I sighed loudly. She was right — I did know that. But we’d never had an electronic catastrophe before. How was I supposed to know the internet didn’t control whether or not earthquakes erupted?

I tried to check my phone. Futile, of course. I’d been lucky my whole life, so why…


Fiction

A story about a world with no pain, and no memory of what came before

A photo of Shibuya crossing with faces blotted out with ink.
A photo of Shibuya crossing with faces blotted out with ink.

1. The Preliminaries

You are permitted 20 things from the old life before the move. Fingers count. Single eyelashes count. A breath does not. Breathing is a given. Antiseptic is forbidden. Bones, you can have those. Don’t bother with your voice — it’ll be removed in stages. Besides, no one speaks inside The Blue. People always forget about skin even though it’s the one item they’ll invariably need — how else will you hold yourself together when you enter The Blue? Baffling. Pairs are a technicality — feet, hands, kidneys, ears, and eyes — you may keep the plurals with some restrictions. For…


We needed to matter to each other, but the words we typed told us only the worst about ourselves

An overhead photo of an Asian woman standing still as blurred people walk by her.
An overhead photo of an Asian woman standing still as blurred people walk by her.

The first person I knew online who died was younger than me. He drowned one summer, jumping from a dock, landing in a shallow spot in a lake, getting knocked unconscious, and under he went. I’d dealt with death before, my great-grandmother and a grandfather, and this boy had never been a person of particular interest to me, but when word finally trickled online, I was shocked that he — who I knew only as words on a screen — was gone.

When I say I knew him, I mean I had never met him in person because he lived…


Express Yourself

Online, expression is ephemeral and lighting-fast. Maybe we should slow it down.

A collage image of a woman on her laptop, with lorem ipsum text as the background.
A collage image of a woman on her laptop, with lorem ipsum text as the background.

Welcome to The Draft, an advice column about writing and life from Eileen Pollack, former director of the University of Michigan MFA Program. We’re here to answer your questions about storycraft, writing, and telling the truth.

Have a question? Share it with us.

Dear Draft,

How has social media changed how we think about nonfiction writing? How has it changed how we recount and share our experiences and observations?

Signed,
Too Young To Know

Dear Too Young,

I’m not sure anyone younger than 50 can appreciate how profoundly the internet has changed the way writers write. Until the late 1990s…


On the unsettling rise of ‘Instahands’

Like most of the internet population, I don’t have many followers on Instagram. Instead, I’m a relentless scroller. A keen observer, if you want to get pretentious. A total peeper, if you want to get real.

It used to be that nosy people like me had to sit in a cafe or on a bench to people-watch. Now, thanks to technology, it’s possible anywhere — from any couch, office, or bed. Here I am, half-asleep on an armchair, my curtains shut, yet somehow I’m watching all of you.

And so it was that I began to notice people on Instagram…


Internet Time Machine

A guided tour through the past, present, and future of logging on

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

At my job teaching college students, I’m occasionally mistaken for one. I’ve found that a good way to make students take me seriously on the first day is to mention that I remember a time before the internet. Of course that’s not true given a precise interpretation of what the internet actually is. But I’m certainly old enough to remember PSA-like videos coaxing the casual newbie into the exciting, if intimidating, world of cyberspace. Such videos often begin the same way, with a…


Internet Time Machine

How I fell into what may or may not have been a meta-scam

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

If it hasn’t happened already, it’s likely that each of us will be the mark of an attempted online scam of one kind or another. You may imagine some shadowy cabal of Nigerian gangsters targeting naïve senior citizens unschooled in internet security or anonymous-style hackers trolling for credit card information, and you probably wouldn’t be too far off.

But what does it mean when the face on the other end of the scam looks a bit more familiar? What if it’s your own?


Internet Time Machine

The story of the British boyfriend who wasn’t, and a different era on the internet

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

The internet has never really been a safe place.

But in the early 2000s, when I was in high school, it seemed safe. It was a moment in time just before our then-tenuous connection to technology turned into something more like an umbilical cord. We had AIM and Myspace, but the first iPhone — and the constant connection it brought us — was still a few years off. The internet of my early teens was a world apart: Whatever happened online felt like…

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