You may notice that I’m breaking a few rules here by talking about my writers rather than any of the plethora of perpetually online creators, but The Daily is online… so it makes up for it? Either way, I created this column, so I can bend the rules if need be.
For those that don’t know me, hey. I’m Mik Deitz, and I was one of the first writers hired to the Digital Culture Beat back in fall 2020 — thanks Bonnie! For the past year and a half, I’ve had the privilege of essentially crafting the beat from scratch: I’ve hired all of our current writers and worked closely with each and every one to determine the best direction for us. Writing for The Daily has been life-changing, as it quite literally made me fall in love with criticism and befriend some of the best people at the University. So that’s what this article is about: those amazing, wonderful writers who inspire me daily (pun intended).
Although the Digital Culture writers are from all over — Maxwell Lee reps the College of Engineering, Hunter Bishop, the English department, and even Laine Brotherton in Chemistry — they are all united by a love for all things digital. In our hyper-connected world, Digital Culture is everywhere and in everything, so you can imagine the difficulty of framing an entire beat around the idea. But our writers not only rise up to the challenge, they surpass it.
Ranging from social media to video games, the Digital Culture writers are cultural anthropologists, documenting things that, often, no one else in the world is paying attention to. Laine investigated the sudden resurgence of Yik Yak, while Harper Klotz dissected the issues behind the Cottagecore aesthetic. Leo Krinsky wrote a proper eulogy to Adobe Flash; Saarthak Johri beautifully analyzed TikTok’s Infinite Monkey problem; K. Rodriguez-Garcia delved deep into the “Danganronpa” visual novels and Hannah Carapellotti memorialized her time with the Nintendo Wii. None of this even touches on Maddie Agne exposing how silly it is that the Tolkien Estate bans “Lord of the Rings” fanfiction, Rushabh Shah exploring the magnificent deeds of Marcus Rashford or Maxwell Lee and Hunter Bishop’s thoughtful reviews on “Elden Ring” and “Tunic,” respectively.
It’s impossible to link every single piece from these brilliant writers and describe their impact not only on myself but on the community. Digital Culture pieces routinely land on The Daily’s “most read” list, a true testament to the demand that exists for articles exploring this space. People want to know about the wrongs David Dobrik committed or why the #BookTok trend of enemies-to-lovers is problematic. They are hungry, desperate to understand our always connected, but inevitably lonely, digital existence.
That’s the future, isn’t it? Digital Culture is the future. As Elon Musk threatens to buy Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg continually blabbers about the scammy-as-hell Metaverse and our world becomes more and more digital, we need people to help filter our existential fears. We need empathetic writers to call out hypocrisy while simultaneously finding the next big trend to cheer everyone up. Writers who venture out into the great digital unknown and blaze a trail, thoughtfully and carefully leading everyone else along to make their own decisions. And no platform has writers better equipped to lead that charge than The Michigan Daily.
These writers — my lovely writers — are not mine for much longer, but I wholly believe they are up to the challenge. Every single one of them has proven time and time again that they have the wit, heart and brains required to continue making something truly special. To prove to everyone that Digital Culture deserves to be here, and that we are a vital part of the future of both The Daily and the greater Washtenaw County community.
As soon as my stubborn and endlessly nitpicky edits are out of the picture in two weeks, I hand the reins off to Laine and Hannah. I’ve spent two years building this ship and telling it where to go. It’s time for new captains, and I trust them to continue crafting Digital into a mainstay within Arts. To really push the limits far beyond what my, and I hate this term, “GenZennial” mindset could imagine and really make the section something special, something necessary.
And y’know what? I look forward to finally being able to view the section from the outside in, every new article a happy surprise. They push me to be my best, and I hope everyone in the section continues to do the same for you.
Senior Arts Editor Mik Deitz can be reached at email@example.com.