All things internet culture! 💃🏻

In conversation with Shephali Bhatt! ✨

Hello! 👋

On most days, I discover some of the most interesting internet trends through Shephali Bhatt. A tech reporter who predominantly writes about creator economy, internet culture, and media — Shephali's writing is immersive.

I still remember waiting for her weekly newsletter 'Like. Share. Subscribe' on The Mint, where she covered internet culture. In today’s Morning Rush, I’m quite excited to share my conversation with. 🤩

But, First: What do we know about Shephali Bhatt?

Let's dive into the conversation now. 👇

Sunaina: What are you currently working on?

Shephali: When you're covering the internet, your biggest challenge is to prioritise what to write/report on first because there's so much happening everywhere all at once. I don't particularly enjoy writing about what's trending on the internet. I feel there's more value in writing about internet phenomena that have been simmering for a while. Things that stem out of a major change in human behaviour, that'll eventually alter our habits, or that have transformed us already in a way that's perhaps not all that good.

I'm currently working on six stories that are due in the coming few days and weeks. They're all at the intersection of technology and culture.

Sunaina: You write a lot about the creator economy and internet trends. What about these themes catch your attention?

Shephali: I started writing about creator economy and internet culture in 2018 when they were yet to become legitimate beats. Back then, I was just a generalist reporter who liked to explore different worlds to write a longform feature every Sunday. I continue to write about diverse themes, but it so happens that most of my stories are centred around the internet. I think it has to do with the influence of the internet in all walks of our lives. It wasn't a conscious shift, I mean. I have enjoyed writing about stevia farming as much as I enjoy writing about the stan culture. Like any good journalist, I'm a chronicler of the first draft of history. There's just a lot of internet in this history-in-the-making, so I'm trying to do my best at chronicling it.

Sunaina: Right! How can upcoming creators discover their voice?

Shephali: Not sure if there's one set answer to this. Everyone has a different journey. Some discover their voice early on; others take time. And the process doesn't end at just finding your voice. You also have to determine when, where, how, and how much of your voice is necessary to be heard.

Sunaina: In your 'Life is a Reel' piece, you wrote that an ordinary day seems extraordinary when it's turned into a Reel with a song in the background. What do you think about over-romanticization of lives on social media?

Shephali: Divija Bhasin, a mental health practitioner I spoke to for this piece, pointed out how when one is constantly in front of the camera, we start behaving in unnatural ways, often without realising. But to the person watching that reel it seems like natural behaviour, and that has the power to alter our culture in the long term. I think about that a lot when I see people around me taking their phones out to capture life instead of living it. Personally, I love romance. Only when it isn't forced.

Watch Shephali's conversation on the evolution of creator economy with Varun Duggirala. 👇

Sunaina: Creator-run brands are more bankable than celebrity-run brands. Why do you think we trust creators more?

Shephali: I wrote a piece on this couple of years ago. There are multiple reasons for this. Subject matter expertise, relatability adding to their credibility quotient, accessibility and a deeper connect the audience has with a creator than they have ever had with a celebrity.

Sunaina: What are some trends we overlook in the creator economy?

Sunaina: Your work involves spending abundant time on the internet. How do you maintain a balance between work and personal life?

Shephali: I don't enjoy being on the internet. I proactively spend more time offline than online. If I didn't, I would have stopped writing about the internet a long time ago to preserve whatever sanity I have left.

Sunaina: Who's your current favorite creator?

Shephali: I don't have favourite creators because it's important for me to be objective about the individuals I'm covering as part of my beat. I do enjoy certain genres of content and girl groups that find the best memes and reels in said genres. They range from 'work/life fatigue' to 'women womaning' to 'shitposting' and everything in between.

Sunaina: Do you have a prediction for 2024?

Shephali: It's not a prediction so much as a given that AI will transform the face of the creator economy in ways we can only imagine at this point. I hope my reporting can keep up with these changes.

So, that was my conversation with Shephali. If you liked this chat, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back with another story next Tuesday. 👋🏼

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