Naomi Fry is a New Yorker staff writer who covers such pop culture phenomenons as Ben Affleck's back tattoo and Shia LaBeouf's Uggs. She's also a social media favorite among Manhattan media circles, known for her funny and prolific posts on Instagram and Twitter. Below, Naomi, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, their daughter and two cats, talks about fame and self-representation in the Internet era, her abiding love for "self-consciously slutty Instagram It girls" and much more.
Naomi hi! (Former Caret interviewee) Molly Young was actually the one who suggested you’d make a great profile. She wrote [via email], “Naomi’s a kind of cult internet celebrity among New York media people. People make pins of her face.”
That’s really funny. I mean I obviously wouldn’t call myself an Internet celebrity. I joined Twitter in 2014, which is relatively late, but I’m obsessed with it. I’m constantly making stupid jokes—like very niche jokes—that some people seem to find funny. I'm 42 and I have a seven–year-old so it's been kind of surprising for me to see younger people relating to my tweets or liking the stuff that I've written. My stupidities resonate with people. I guess I’m happy about it.
I also think part of it is that while I’ll go ahead and admit that I think I’m smart and funny and a good writer, I’m also totally self-loathing and self-questioning all the time. So maybe the combination is appealing because it’s probably something a lot of people around me share: That kind of polar approach to self-worth and self-presentation.
On Instagram too, your posts are often humorously self-deprecating—like a selfie at your therapist’s office or when you just woke up.
When it comes to so-called “personal brand building,” even when you don't think you’re doing it, you’re still kind of doing it. So I’m not going to pretend it’s something I’m not totally aware of, as anyone on social media is. But I think it’s true that I have no interest in presenting my life in a way that’s idealized. I mean, look, if I put a picture of myself up I’m probably going to try for one where I don’t look hideous. But I’ll post photos when I’ve just woken up and my hair looks enormous and unruly and my eyes are puffy because I just find it funny.
There’s a comforting candor to your Instagram feed, especially in its mundanity—like a random photo of your cat.
Yeah and again, I’m not going to present it as completely artless. But I have absolutely no interest in the “influencer” aesthetic, where everything is perfect.
Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t fall for it. Especially in the summer when everyone’s posting vacation photos and I feel like I’m the only one sweltering and weeping at home. It sets these high expectations—career-wise, leisure-wise, body-wise, parenting-wise—which I probably set up for myself anyway even without outside forces. I think when people talk a little bit more truthfully it’s something they admit weighs on them.
And now there’s this stupid thing people are doing where they’re like “In this picture, I’m wearing a fedora and a $1000 chiffon skirt on my size 0 body and I’m in Soho laughing for the camera when in fact that day I had horrible cramps, my boyfriend had just broken up with me…” all this bullshit. And it’s like, but you’re still posing for the picture. It’s so self-regarding and weird. The platforms that we are constantly scrolling through set up these ideals that nobody can live up to. And I would just like to emphasize that I’m aware that this is not the most pressing issue of our age. But it’s something that’s in our vernacular and people talk about and I think ultimately it is something that’s influencing our quality of life—and yet I can’t look away.