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Twitter trolling with Chapo Trap House’s Felix Biederman

How “the pied piper of the dirtbag left” spends his day online.

Photo collage of Felix Biederman surrounded by a weasel, a video game figure with a gun, and other images of online subjects he talks about.
Felix, with some of the stuff he likes to do online.
Felix Biederman
Rebecca Jennings is a senior correspondent covering social platforms and the creator economy. Since joining Vox in 2018, her work has explored the rise of TikTok, internet aesthetics, and the pursuit of money and fame online. You can sign up for her biweekly Vox Culture newsletter here.

Welcome to 24 Hours Online, where we ask one extremely internetty person to document a day in their life looking at screens.

Felix Biederman, whom the New York Times once called one of “the pied pipers of the dirtbag left,” is among Twitter’s most prolific posters. He also thinks that maybe people shouldn’t be allowed to have smartphones.

“I really do think that we need very strong regulation of phones,” he says over Zoom. “I think it would be almost probably better if you just couldn’t make smartphones in America anymore.” Of course, like everyone else, he has zero plans to throw his away. “I’m still drinking that garbage.”

As a founder and co-host of the leftist podcast Chapo Trap House, Biederman has been a public figure since the Obama administration, and a message board troll since Bush. (“When I was 17 or 18, there was this proto-hipster dude who did a call-in web show out of Portland, and me and my friends would call in and do increasingly elaborate fucked-up personas,” he says.) But his 24 Hours Online reveals a lifestyle much more in step with his new home of California: On a Thursday in May, Biederman listens to video game lore videos while on a run, gets sucked into a Mormon YouTube hole, and retweets pictures of adorable weasels.

Here he is, in his own words:

6:30 am

I have invented a new form of sleeping called the Two Morning Method: I first wake up at a time between 5:30 and 7 am, and the first thing I check is my emails. I’ve got an email that seems important, so I draft a response, and then when I wake up the second time two or three hours later, I fix the misspellings and confusing clauses.

If business is a body, emails are the blood. I’m a huge email supporter. Every exciting new project starts on email. If you can start your day with a successful email, you’re already ahead of the competition.

10:30 am

With the hard part done, it’s time to reward myself with a very forgettable croissant. But it isn’t just Nespresso and 25mg Adderall XR accompanying me: My Twitter timeline is also there. If the Two Morning Method has failed me and I’m in a bad mood, I will tweet something awful at a guy who works for Senator [redacted].

Instead, I mindlessly quote-tweet stuff with animals that I like. I love all mustelids — sables, pine martens, otters — and I love all primates, but I’m really invested in gibbons. Quote tweets are probably the lowest form of posts, so I do, like, 47 a day.

11:00 am

It’s time to record [the podcast, Chapo Trap House]. We use Zencastr because a few of us are still in New York and some are here in LA. While we record, I watch muted videos of animals or cars that I’d be too embarrassed to actually drive. Sometimes I just want to know what the dashboard of a Range Rover looks like.

Toward the end I grab my phone and check my message requests. I don’t know what I expect, but I think anyone in the professional media or entertainment world does have the delusional asshole part of their brain. Sometimes you check your message requests and it’s a legitimately famous person saying, “I love your podcast,” which is insane. A lot of it is just annoying questions that you’ve already answered, but people sometimes tell me interesting things that I wouldn’t have known.

Today a guy tells me that there’s a video game that Hezbollah made, and I’m very curious to figure out how to play it. Apparently you play as a Hezbollah guy fighting an IDF guy. I like video games that are made by outsiders, like made in a country that is experiencing a brutal sanction regime and probably doesn’t have access to a lot of tools that someone making a game in France or Canada has.

Unfortunately, one or two times a day there are people in my Twitter messages who are experiencing psychotic episodes where they think they’re being targeted. It definitely freaked the shit out of me in the first few years of being a public figure, but now that’s just a fact of any kind of public internet life that you cannot take personally. I don’t know if there’s something about me that particularly upsets people, maybe it’s the shape of my face, but I live with it and hope that it never crosses over.

2:00 pm

After recording the podcast and a long phone call, I go to the gym. If I’m lifting, I’m on my phone a lot. You feel like an asshole if you’re just standing there in between sets, so you need something to look busy. If I make a particularly gross body horror or upsetting joke that loses followers, this is usually where I do it.

My goal is for my followers to yell at me and tell me they hate it. The real victory is when people with their full name and profession quote-tweet me and are like, “What the fuck is this? This is disgusting.” That’s the stuff I find funniest. It’s just purely for me, and that’s where I’m at my most authentic self.

I’m just running today, so I take advantage of YouTube Premium’s audio-only feature and listen to Dark Souls lore videos. Neither aspect of this is defensible; I am paying for the privilege of listening to a 17-minute narrated essay about a dragon named Kalameet.

4:00 pm

I’m done with everything I absolutely have to do at this point. I do have some logistic payroll shit that isn’t especially demanding or urgent. I go in and out of doing that for the next few hours. It’s a dance of looking at automated accounts called, like, Every Image Of Martens, or the group DMs that have a .09 percent variation in members, and going back to my spreadsheet bullshit.

At some point I see something about the baby formula shortage that makes me badly want a public execution of the people responsible. I really do feel that in my heart, but of course, I’m just staring at my phone with the blankest expression in recorded human history. Minutes later I’m just looking at posts about the crypto crash. I think the schadenfreude with this particular thing is sort of forced and blinkered, but I’m not exactly looking at this like a first responder surveying a disaster. I’m sure some obnoxious shitty people lost money but considering how many people in this country are just two left turns away from complete financial ruin, it’s really hard for me to feel happy about it. Everyone between, like, 22 and 40 right now thought this was going to be for them what buying a house was for their Boomer parents. A lot of desperate people got screwed.

This is just the other type of thing you do when you’re looking at your phone, which is enjoying the drama of something bad happening, but without the pain of it happening to you or the feeling that you need a clear moral opinion on it. I don’t think that’s really unique to the internet. People have always kind of liked hearing about a coworker’s horrifying divorce if they don’t really talk to them. Everyone does it to some extent, but so many different groups of people being in one place makes it absurdly easy to access now. It is pretty horrifying to think what instant feedback reactions to headlines and ready-made arguments are doing to us.

I’m almost certainly not going to take any of this shit off my phone, though. I’m just going to feel it deep in my heart and not really do anything.

6:00 pm

It’s Elden Ring time. Let’s get this shit. I try soloing Malenia twice until I think better of it and do some catacombs. I’ve beaten her twice but I used the spirit summons. It’s really fucking hard.

9:00 pm

None of my friends are online playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is what I actually want to play. I think of CS:GO the way that other people think of golf or baseball: an unimpeachably great, fundamental game.

It’s a pretty dull Thursday, all told. I close out this day by watching YouTube videos about MLM-cult hybrids and crypto (I am desperately trying to understand the Luna implosion to uncertain success). I watch an amazing two-part documentary about LuLaRoe by Munecat and learn something interesting, which is that there are a lot of MLM scams in Utah not only because it’s a favorable business environment, but because the social cohesion and sense of community with Mormons is such that one Mormon is probably not going to think that another Mormon would be lying to them. Unfortunately it’s screwed a lot of Mormons out of money. Utah is one of the few states that has a white-collar criminal database registry, like a sex offender registry, just because there are so many people scamming their neighbors and friends and cousins and shit.

And that’s what I do as I drift off into sleep.

Total screen time:

8 hours, 53 minutes

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