Brittany Spanos is a staff writer at Rolling Stone who has interviewed everyone from Stevie Nicks to Rae Sremmurd. She grew up in Chicago’s South Suburbs and moved to New York for college where she attended NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Prior to Rolling Stone, she was the Clubs Editor at the Village Voice and has freelanced for Rookie, Cosmo, Vulture, the Hairpin, SPIN and more. Last year, she was on the writing staff for the MTV Video Music Awards and frequently appears on the SiriusXM show Rolling Stone Music Now with several of her co-workers.
This week, Spanos talked to me about three of her favorite tweets, plus Nicki Minaj, teen-based fandoms, and why her mom is banned from Twitter.
Spanos: I have been roasting Drake on the internet for as long as I have had an account on twitter dot com. I love him as much as I loathe him both as a rapper and a human person, so he’s always my favorite subject to make jokes about. This tweet in particular came from my lukewarm feelings towards Views in comparison to Lemonade because I think Drake is at his best when he’s working through some severe heartbreak in his music. This is me offering up a charitable donation of my time, affection and willingness to ruin this man’s life for the sake of him having a great, Beyoncé-level album.
How has the way you use Twitter changed over time?
I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, when I was a lame teenager in high school. Back then, I really only followed my friends and some bands, and we all used to just quote each other, continue inside jokes, livetweet Glee (lol) or just report on what we’re doing like “going to the movies XD.” Like my Tumblr and Facebook, it shifted around 2012 when I started writing professionally and following more music writers and whatnot, and I began using it as a platform to promote my writing and ~cultural insight~.
What kind of things typically inspire you to tweet?
I’m kind of all over the place! I can get really obsessed with random things, but I would say anything that makes me laugh or angry usually does the job. I think Nineties music and reality television tend to be my biggest inspirations for some of my weirder tweets. Things I loved when I was a pre-teen and teen tend to come back up in my life a lot so I like to tweet about that. Conversations in the group chats I’m in are also extremely influential on my tweeting.
OK, I love La La Land a lot but Ryan Gosling’s character would be kind of the worst in real life. White guys who have taken up JAZZ as their life’s purpose are insufferable to no end and being stuck on a date with them has never made me want to break out into a whimsical song and dance number. What you’ll actually get is a few hours of severe mansplaining from someone who can’t name a single popular artist from the last 30 years. “City of Stars” is still dope though.
Do you have any favorite subcultures on Twitter/online in general?
I looooove teen-based fandoms. I can spend hours scrolling through fan accounts for One Direction, Fifth Harmony, 5SOS, etc. That stuff is great and those fandoms are filled with people who should definitely not waste their investigative prowess and join the CIA or something. They’re great. My friend Anna Fitzpatrick recently showed me this Tumblr community called studyblr that I’ve become obsessed with. It’s very soothing to scroll through the tag which is filled with really pretty pictures of notebooks and planners decorated by a bunch of teenage nerds so I relate heavily.
What is your favorite interaction you’ve had on Twitter?
This is less an interaction and more a shout out, but Nicki Minaj once tweeted one of my articles and turned my name into a hashtag (hence my display name on Twitter). It was so weird and random, and I think my friends’ continued use of the hashtag when they tweet to or about me always makes my day.
My mom is my FAVORITE source for tweets because she’s utterly ridiculous. She’s unfiltered and hates 90% of the people she’s encountered but is so FRIENDLY that she always has these wild interactions. The added bonus is that she works at a bank in Indiana so her stories are incredibly wild. When I was home for the holidays, she caught me up on the latest tales of her showing off her only child’s career and glamorous life in NYC to complete strangers, and the Neil Young story is my new favorite interaction she’s had with someone I will never meet who now knows too much about me.
Does you mom follow you on Twitter/ know you tweet about her/ have feelings about you doing so?
My mom has been banned from Twitter (by me) because she’s too good at Facebook statuses and would definitely become more popular than me on Twitter. I assume she checks my account because she knows I tweet about her even though I’ve never said “hey mom, I’m going to tweet what you said.” She likes having her jokes appreciated and adores her budding fandom online. In her mind, I am a very famous writer so she relishes it.
Would you say Twitter’s most often helpful for your writing, a distraction from it, or a mix of both?
It’s helpful! I’ve definitely written articles based on things I’ve tweeted. It’s kind of nice to get an idea out there and then I’m just like “Yes, I have more thoughts on this.” I don’t scroll endlessly through Twitter like I used to when I was in college or high school, so it’s less of a crazy distraction and more like something I use for little breaks when I’m writing. I think many parts of Twitter have gotten toxic, but at its best, it can be a great, thoughtful incubator for ideas and working through complicated opinions/feelings about things. Also great for music discovery!
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn.