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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Rae

Hello, Hailo

How I found belonging in Hot Literati

And when I say “Hailo”, I don’t just mean Hailo herself (although, yes…hello to the curly hair and flesh that is Hailo behind this screen. Thanks for giving me the space to write this). I am saying “Hello” to everything her community – the Hot Literati universe/world/digital space – embodies. Hello, fellow writers. Hello, other women with a love for classic literature and angel numbers. Hello, people who use internet slang in real life. Hello to my wonderful team of interns I get to collaborate with this summer. Hello Substack. Hello artists with day jobs (I have mine in three hours!). Hello (re)cognitionists everywhere. Hellohellohello.

I’m writing this in a coffee shop where, just like me, most people are sitting by themselves at a computer. Airpods in. Half-drank matcha lattes by their right hands. Some open spreadsheets; others appear to be furiously typing onto a blank Word Doc. I no longer aspire to partake in this kind of individualism. I smiled at strangers on the sidewalk on my way here. I left my headphones off so I can hear the indie music playing from the speakers while the baristas contemplate which Danish should sit at the front of the display window. The espresso machine is quieter than I thought it would be. Sirens echo from some nearby street, which is par for the course in Pittsburgh. There’s a Bull Terrier in line that I am fighting the urge to pet. My vanilla latte is delicious. I only know this because I am drinking it. I am giving myself the pleasure of enjoying my own vices – in this case it is my decision to spend eight dollars on a drink and walk through bookstores 45 minutes away from home when I should be doing laundry and cleaning. Fuck the should be’s. I rarely look at spreadsheets. I use Google Docs.

That is what Hot Literati has encouraged me to start doing. To act like I belong in this world, because I do. To pay attention to the places where I feel most myself, because not only does this make for better writing, it also makes for a better life. For me, it has always been hard to find spaces on social media where I don’t feel like an imposter in some way or another. It is because of influencer culture that I used to cast myself as the smart-but-uncool-and-unattractive girl in my own life. I believed I was meant to be unnoticed. I believed I was never meant to “fit in.” And then I found Hot Literati. Hellohellohello.

It was through Instagram, as this is the conduit through which most of my interests (literature, Ethel Cain, @iwishyoucouldtakemeupstate) culminate. I discovered Hailo first during that longgggg summer in 2020 and then found the Hot Literati page later on, my first thoughts about which were, “I don’t know what this is, but I want to.” I think it was the casualness of it all that struck me. Nothing felt like a performance, which is rare to find on the internet. We all know that the whole point is to perform. “Foxy eyes” filters and story highlights exist for a reason.

But not here, not in the world of hot, cool, well-read people. We talk about Dostoevsky here, whom I’ve never read but am now going to this summer thanks to, you guessed it, Hailo. We take screenshots of our pieces and hit upload without a second thought. We read at nightclubs. We dance. We leave our headphones tangled. And I say “we” because I feel like I belong in this little literary corner of the internet. I’ve felt a connection with the creations of Hot Literati ever since I began reading the pieces on Substack and could feel the authenticity of each voice through my computer screen. Can you feel mine? Hear mine? Pause your music. I promise it’s there. I’m here! With you! Hello from a coffee shop in Pittsburgh. The dog is gone now.

As much as I loved the writing & videos & conversations the Hot Literati team was producing, I thought I would always have to read and admire it from a distance. I think I speak for a lot of creative people when I say that getting to actually work for people in your field sometimes feels like an impossibly far achievement. I applied to be a summer intern because I thought the work and events and artists within Hot Literati were important, and also very cool. The fact that I get to collaborate with others in order to continue this still feels a little surreal to me. Writing and working for a brand I love? Hello, my new reality.

This is what it is to be part of something bigger than yourself: the force that compels you to be here exerts the same power over everyone else, right there with you. It is wondrous to be one of many. I wrote a little bit about this in the context of artivism for a literary mag I’m part of, but I think the same can be said for any online space like Hot Literati. It’s the book club you never got to join in highschool. It’s the apotheosis of conversations you never got to have (because where else are you going to talk Franz Kafka AND defending PDA?). It’s a black background with hot pink text in the shape of a heart. It has a heart. The force that keeps it beating has a twin. It’s the one that made all of us belong here.

I am so! thrilled! to be part of Hot Literati this summer. Turns out, being chronically online has its perks. But that was past me, I swear. My relationship with the internet and social media has pivoted within the last four years. It’s time for tactility, for oiling the gears in my head. I believe this is possible for all of us in this (re)cognition summer – and fall, winter, spring, summer again, for the rest of our lives. Technological Consumption In Moderation Is Sexy. So too is being seen. Hellohellohello.

2 comentarios

25 jun

helloooo alexandra <3

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24 jun


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