Mental Health & Intimacy in the Digital Age | Permanent Record

I have such terrible social anxiety. A lot of authors are introverts.>>Mm-hm.>>The whole deal was that we get
to write in our underpants, and that’s the deal like we-
>>[LAUGH]>>I thought we agree to this.>>[LAUGH] [MUSIC]>>Hi, it’s Karah Preiss from Belletrist.>>And it’s Ebony Ladelle from Epic Reads. And we’re here with Mary H.K Choi, the
author of Permanent Record which we are so excited to talk about.>>This beautiful package over here.>>It’s true everyone loves my package.>>[LAUGH] So for those of you who don’t
know, Permanent Record follows Pablo, he’s a recent NYU dropout
who works at a Bodega.>>One of the things that
really stood out to me about this book is the discussion
of intimacy in the digital age. Not only sort of how we
are intimate with each other, but also like how close we feel
to people that we don’t know. So I was wondering sort of
how it plays into your book.>>Yeah, I mean, like I have that
sort of dynamic in my first book, Emergency Contact,
where two people fall in love over text, and Permanent Record too. It’s like it’s a long
distance situation and there are a lot of different modalities
of intimacy that use technology. And I personally love it, it’s so
true that everyone has this like thing of like cat-fishing,
everything is just a lie, da da da da da. And sure, but I actually feel like when I
am unencumbered with like my meat suit, and like my social anxiety, that there can be this like
intimacy that feels very truthful.>>Mm-hm.>>And I love how like especially
like any sort of like, neuro-atypical people who might be too
overwhelmed by different like social cues, like I think that texting and
things like that are such a boon. And actually,
some of my closest friends are pen pals.>>Mm-hm.>>And what that means is that we just
have end to end encryption on WhatsApp, and we leave these like very like
logarithmic like, your innermost thoughts, like voice memos to each other. And that feels really close, and
I do think that there is this paradigm that people are like
that’s false intimacy. Or how can you really feel that way
unless like you’re seeing your own light refracted back in the light of the sheen
of the their eyes, and all this stuff. And like sure that I just don’t find
that to be necessarily honest and truthful to how we
experience closeness now.>>Mm-hm, so
let’s like sort of flip this a little bit, there’s sort of like this rise and
depression with like FOMO.>>Mm-hm.>>And you have Leah, you love her on the
page, but you also can sort of feel like her issues with social media, and how she
feels she can’t really be her true self, and do fans love her or the idea of her. So can you sort of talk about how
you wrote her story into this?>>Yeah, so
we stay in Pablo’s headspace, and I really was very deliberate about that. Because I thought, there’s so many dynamics of masculinity
that I wanted to tackle, too. Just with the power dynamic that these
two have, and the power disparity, specifically. But Leah is a real person as well,
and like she really does struggle with like the title flow, like at one
point a picture of her and cornrows goes viral from when she was a child, and like
that, obviously would be a huge issue.>>Mm-hm.>>And that ruins certain aspects of
her album release, and so there is, as huge as she is, I did want to sort
of illustrate how fallible she was, also based on like
the capricious of her fans.>>Mm-hm.>>And
like fan armies love to turn on people.>>Mm-hm.>>And like there is no fan army
member who is more ardent than someone who turns on you cuz they really
feel like they do know you, and they feel explicitly disappointed by you.>>So one of my favorite quotes
is intimacy is this shit, like I just [LAUGH] I think it’s very
prevalent even just like in your own work. So for those of you don’t know,
Mary has a podcast called, Hey, Cool Life!, it’s really nice,
>>It’s so good.>>[LAUGH]
>>It’s like so calmy.>>Yeah.>>You’re really honest about
your struggles and trials, and just sort of being a creative and
especially in the public eye. So how do you maintain
intimacy as a public figure?>>Well, first of all thank you so
much for calling me a public figure. [LAUGH] No, I mean it’s really real so
I actually have two podcasts, one is Hey, Cool Job!, and
it’s about different careers. And then the flip side of that,
Hey, Cool Life!, is like the cost of doing business and
the cost of doing creative work. And how humiliating it is to create
something like a multi-hundred page book that’s so unsolicited. I do feel a lot of embarrassment
when I look around at the world, and I’m just like, but I made something up
because the news is just so depressing and so hardcore. I struggle a lot,
like a lot of authors are introverts.>>Mm-hm.>>The whole deal was that we
get to write in our underpants->>Mm-hm. [LAUGH]
>>That’s the deal, I thought we agreed to this.>>[LAUGH]
>>And so anytime I’m actually on the road and publicizing it, and looking at people
who have read my work, it just It’s a lot. And the way I deal with that, which is hugely privileged
is that I have a therapist. And I also go to group support
meetings for my various addictions.>>Mm-hm.>>And I go to those three times a week. So I’m in therapy like dead ass like four
hours a week, which is a huge luxury and not something that everyone has but
I have such terrible social anxiety. I am so like,
the types of addictions I have, like creates this like scarcity mentality,
specifically I have an eating disorder. And so there’s not enough for
me anywhere, and there’s I don’t feel
safe 100% of the time.>>Mm-hm.>>And so, yeah, a lot of my work is
just coming to terms with creating art in that context like I feel like
artists are incredibly sensitive. And I think that our observational
skills are huge boon and the cost often time is this anxiety.>>Mm-hm.
>>So I don’t deal with it well. [LAUGH] But I do deal with it, and
that’s been really, really nice. It’s been so wonderful and
such a gift not to blot everything out with using substances
>>Yeah.>>And getting into weird headspace
is where I get so self obsessed. And yeah, I mean actually,
to the point of the podcast, you figure out where you’re at, and
you figure out what you’re thinking, and you’re figuring out how you feel
about what you’re thinking. And so that podcast kind of
excavates some of that for me.>>Most definitely.>>Yeah.>>I was gonna say that I’m listening to
you work things out during the podcast. And it’s so helpful for so many people
to sort of kind of like have that realization, and sort of do the same thing
themselves is sort of kind of seeing it through you, which is so
intimate and beautiful.>>And it’s again, that shame component,
you can either feel away and feel shameful about it, and it becomes your secret-
>>Yeah.>>And your secret becomes corrosive.>>Yeah.>>Or you can be like, hi, I have the coping skills of an
eight-year-old which is very true for me. And I feel in danger, all the time.>>[LAUGH]
>>And then, other people are like, my God,
me too, this is what I do.>>Yeah.>>Mm-hm.>>And I think that there’s a difference
between that and being, sort of, didactic in the way that like other
generations of self-help have emerged. Words like this is what you need
to do to be, this is who you are, this is what you have to do every morning,
and this.>>And that too,
it’s like such an optimized thing, right? Where it’s like, it’s so capitalistic.>>It’s turbo.>>Yeah,
the jig is that it’s always prescriptive, self-help is always prescriptive. It’s like buy this thing, do this thing, [SOUND] like you can
purchase your way to feeling better. But like for me, the core conceit of
addiction is taking something from the outside and trying to apply it to
something that you’re feeling inside.>>Mm-hm.>>And so I think it’s a kind of like evil
the way capitalism creates this need or like identifies this need, I mean, you
used to be about creating need me like, is your teeth white enough? And now it’s just like, so you’re anxious? Well like, I’ll diagnose you,
you’ll get this. And I think that, it makes me really sad
to think that someone is struggling and just buying these little
talismans that are junk.>>Yeah.>>It’s a wellness industrial complex,
it’s real.>>It’s so powerful.>>Yeah.>>And CBD’s a scam, sorry. [LAUGH]
>>Well, thank you so much for coming, that was very intimate.>>[LAUGH]
>>And CBD is a scam.>>[LAUGH]
>>So if you haven’t bought
Permanent Record yet, I don’t know what you’re doing, go buy it.>>Make sure to like our videos, make
sure to comment, tell us what you think. Make sure to follow us at-
>>Belletrist, B-E-L-L-E-T-R-I-S-T.>>And Epic Reads.>>On the next episode, we’re gonna talk
more about Permanent Record with Mary.>>Thanks, yeah. [MUSIC]

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