CJR fellow Karen Maniraho talks with five very online journalists — Ryan Broderick, Jason Parham, Taylor Lorenz, Rebecca Jennings, and Rusty Foster — about what it’s like to cover tech and internet culture today, how they navigate through viral moments and algorithms, and how they look for meaning in a constantly noise-polluted, chaotic space.

Because the internet is very nonlinear. So oftentimes, the thing that’s happening right now could be reacting to a thing that actually happened like five years ago, but then got stuck in an algorithm and came back. Or it’s impacting a thing that hasn’t happened yet. It’s a very bizarre space to operate in. And I think it’s gotten much more bizarre since the pandemic, because there’s just a lot more people online. At least that’s what it feels like.

I don’t think people are really meant to engage with the whole world. It is exhausting. I feel like everybody who works on social media needs to know that you have to be making plans for what you’re going to do when you can’t do this anymore.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.