I met a snake TikToker

And a YouTuber with 2M subscribers

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Ok onto today’s post.

Last weekend, I went to my friend Shane’s party in Brooklyn.

We’re chilling on a rooftop with beautiful views, a DJ (really just a tech bro named John) is playing music, and we’re all talking laughing. Then 3 dudes walk in and Shane tells me I need to meet them. And thus begins one of the most memorable conversations I’ve had in a while.

There’s 3 dudes: Tim, Alex, and Jaron.

Tim is a fish TikToker. Like he shows people how to cook fish and sushi? No, not exactly. Tim runs a TikTok about fish and aquariums. He shows people how to take care of their fish and fix their aquariums. Thanks to his TikToks, he got a gig fixing The Met’s aquariums or koi ponds or wherever the hell fish hang out at an art museum. Crazy, right?

Well, it gets weirder.

Alex is a snake TikToker. Yes, you heard me right. He pays his bills by making videos about snakes. Like most people, I’m freaked out by snakes, so I ask him how he got started with his snake TikToks (snakeTok?). He said his dad was allergic to dogs so he had to find a different kinda pet to have. And now he has 3+ snakes and 5+ lizards and makes a living making videos about them.

Somehow, it gets weirder. Yes, I promise.

Jaron is 18 years old and has 2 million YouTube subscribers. He makes 4-5 videos per year and it takes him 3 months each to make a video. In his first video, he built a terrarium. In his last video, he built a corral reef from scratch. He’s making millions of dollars. He is known on the internet as Dr. Plants. And he’s skipping college to do YouTube. He’s my hero.

As we were all laughing about our very weird online lives and I was showing them my Instagram that went viral and the beef I started between Soulja Boy and J. Cole, we started chatting about online communities. I’m paraphrasing what Alex said, but it was basically along the lines of “People used to look down on niche interests, but now it’s cool to have weird passions because we can find each other with the internet.” It’s so true.

Growing up, if you were the kid who had pet snakes, you were either the weird kid who liked Harry Potter way too much or the weird kid who everyone thought practiced some kind of devil worshipping or human sacrifice. Either way, you were the weird kid. Now, if you have snakes or you love nature or cyberpunk culture or meme humor, you can get connected to a world full of people like you with the same niche interests. It’s a solid reminder that whatever weird interest you have, there are millions of people out there like you.

Jaron aka Dr. Plants told us he was the weird nerdy kid too (shocker, I know). He watched a lot of nature and science videos and started making friends in online communities. Then he started making videos himself. Now he’s the superstar. His community loves him (he was legit signing autographs at the nature YouTube convention). Man, this was beautiful to hear because I was that same weird kid. I was the kid making YouTube videos of my dog back in 6th grade back before Instagram even existed. In college, I was the weird kid running a blog and starting Shopify sites. Then I found creator friends on Twitter and in NYC and suddenly I wasn’t the weird kid anymore. I fit right in.

I’m currently reading SNL writer Colin Jost’s book A Very Punchable Face, and he had a very similar experience. You’d think he’d always be the happy-go-lucky dude you see on SNL today who’s rich, famous, and married to Scarlett Johansson. But he wasn’t always the smiley dude.

It took him a long time to find his place in the world. He grew up in a working class Staten Island family, and in his first year at Harvard, he was miserable and depressed surrounded by ivy league brats. He was so miserable he gained 40 pounds by binge-eating pizza every night. Then in his sophomore year, he found Harvard’s comedy magazine The Harvard Lampoon.

“Everyone who got on staff was the funny/weird/awkward/out-of-place kid at their high school, and suddenly you found a dozen other people just like you and thought, Why would I go anywhere else? It would be like if you were the only person in your high school who owned a ferret. And then you got to college and found a whole group dedicated to owning ferrets. You’d think, Wow. I finally belong…on an FBI watch. […] We were nerds who felt like outcasts even at a school full of nerds. And we liked it that way. Because within the Lampoon, a nerd could feel like a king. […] If I hadn’t joined a group with that kind of zealotry, I wouldn’t have developed as a writer as quickly as I did. That’s why whenever someone asks me for advice about how to succeed in comedy, I tell them: Find other people who care about comedy as much as you do, even to an unhealthy degree. That’s why people join Second City in Chicago or the Groundlings in L.A. or Upright Citizens Brigade on either coast. (Or why they make videos online with friends who are also funny and ambitious.) No one in comedy (or any field, really) succeeds in a vacuum. And the faster you find friends who challenge you and sometimes make you jealous, the faster you’ll grow as a comedian (and regress as a human).”

Social media is like the Harvard Lampoon. On the internet, a nerd can feel like a king. I’ve become so much happier since making internet friends. And like Colin, I only started really improving at writing and making content after I found a crew of creator friends. I think this is for 4 main reasons:

  1. We all push each other to be better. When I see a friend write a viral banger, I get jealous and wanna go write one myself. Jealousy and competition with your friends can be good in healthy doses. Chance the Rapper has a good line about his friendship with rapper Vic Mensa. “I still get jealous of Vic, and Vic still jealous of me, but if you touch my brother, all that anti-violence shit goes out the window, along with you and the rest of your team.”

  2. I felt accepted by a group of peers. Feeling accepted took away any inhibitions I had about making content. I no longer felt weird about making content or felt like I was crazy for wanting to build an audience. I embraced who I am and what I wanted, I embraced the cringe side of making content, and I went all in.

  3. It’s more fun with friends. If you’re having fun, you can put in more hours. My video guy Alex and I hang out and are just laughing the whole time. And whenever I co-work with internet friends, the work doesn’t feel as much like work. It just feels like hanging with friends.

  4. There’s more possibilities when you combine talents and leverage. If you combine your talents with someone else’s, you both can win and make cooler shit. If you combine your audience with someone else’s, you both can win and get more people seeing your work. Working with other internet hustlers is some 1+1=3 vibes.

The point of this whole story and article is this: social media is more fun on multiplayer mode. Stop playing on solo mode and start finding communities where you feel like a king (or queen)!


Goal: be the #1 destination for creative cyberpunks

😂 “What is internet, anyways?” I can’t stop thinking about this video from 1994 of news anchors debating what the @ symbol is.

🤑 Founders: if you want to learn how to raise money for your startup, check out the Exponentially newsletter.

🛡 Palmer Luckey, founder of defense-tech co Anduril, went on Pirate Wires to talk military defense and the war in Israel. Cyberpunk af.

🤯 Balaji Srinivasan talks Sam Bank-man Fraud, network states, and war with Erik Torenberg.

🤝 MrBeast credits his success to his strategy calls with other YouTubers. That’s why I’m hosting weekly strategy calls in my private Slack community.


Thanks for reading nerds.

Create some cool shit this week.

Jason Levin

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