Sign in

GEN
What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

How I Got Radicalized

In GEN. More on Medium.

How I Got Radicalized

My extracurriculars, summer camps, and internships were never going to get me a magazine cover — or a satisfying job

A cracked trophy on a pedestal
A cracked trophy on a pedestal

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

Any overachiever with a LinkedIn knows the most important awards for a certain generation is Forbes’ “30 Under 30” reveal. Every year I brace myself for the Oscars-style gratitude speeches from acquaintances and second-degree connections who feel “so humbled” that they made the list. It’s not that I begrudge their success, I swear. It’s simply a tough pill to swallow as a twentysomething with a harsh tendency to compare myself to others. …


How I Got Radicalized

She was a Mormon homemaker who just wanted to take part in the market economy. Then it all came crashing down.

An illustration of a Beanie Baby with a star print and the U.S. flag on its chest. Behind the beanie baby is a generic stock market image.
An illustration of a Beanie Baby with a star print and the U.S. flag on its chest. Behind the beanie baby is a generic stock market image.

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

We laughed about the Beanie Babies. There were hundreds of them, piled onto shelves in my little sisters’ bedroom. The shelves were high up, but there were just a few Beanies truly off-limits, the Princess Diana bear, a platypus, Weenie the dachshund. The rare babies had plastic covers over their tags. Princess Diana Bear was supposed to stay in a plastic case, but was often found lollygagging with the commoners. My siblings and I…


How I Got Radicalized

For years, I was an anonymous vigilante against their extreme hate

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I remember being on autopilot as I went through my process of wiping my identity on Tor, an open-source browser dedicated to maintaining internet anonymity. I exited the browser, double-checking that everything related to it was closed and triple-checking before finally turning off my VPN. I then slammed my laptop shut and sunk back into my bed, exhausted.

It was a weird liminal time of night. If I went to bed right away, I…


How I Got Radicalized

As a child, I loved Disney princesses. As an adult, my concern goes beyond the problematic stereotypes

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

In the fall of 1998, as my big sister’s 15th birthday approached, we both huddled in excitement on the moss-green carpet of our home, watching cable TV as we awaited our mother’s return from a neighboring town. We lived in Bauchi, a city in northern Nigeria, and Mum had gone on a several-day trip to Jos, about two hours away. It was an unspoken family tradition for our parents to return from out-of-town trips…


HOW I GOT RADICALIZED

The sexual politics of the 2000s were profoundly weird and confusing

Carmen Electra holding her workout dvd cover against filtered images of her mid-workout.
Carmen Electra holding her workout dvd cover against filtered images of her mid-workout.

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

In the teen movies of the 2000s, the kids always seemed to be drinking at house parties (on weeknights!), necking with boys (on weeknights!), and going to prom to drink and neck with boys. In my small group of close girlfriends in high school, our vices were far more circumspect, but daring in their own right. There were five of us in the inner circle, all from strict-ish Asian-American households in the dizzyingly diverse…


How I Got Radicalized

They may seem cute and squishy, but really they’re a byproduct of capitalism gone awry

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I don’t remember the first time I encountered a stress ball, that timeless fidget tool, but I’ll always remember the one that I found in my parents’ basement late last year. It’s sitting beside me as I type, a squishy, blue-green orb the size of a tangerine. As a tireless tchotchke-hoarder kid, these little squishies were my favorite part of any back-to-school welcome package. In high school, they were the prized take-home freebie from…


How I Got Radicalized

I never thought I could be the star. Barbra and Fanny showed me the way.

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

There is something both horrifying and awe-inducing about the chorus girl. As a young girl, I was enraptured by this sort of pageantry, from the serene statues of the Ziegfeld Follies to the army of women in Busby Berkeley musicals. I loved the way the chorus girls, like rows of soldiers, swiveled and kicked in unison. I admired their commitment to bold lips, lashes, and pearls. …


How I Got Radicalized

Only a certain class of kid can make the best matcha macarons

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” which tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I’ve loved shitty TV since I was in elementary school. As a kid growing up in the 2000s, my attention was split between live broadcast TV, early-era Netflix, and Friends in syndication. The only way to feel a part of something bigger was through reality TV like America’s Next Top Model and American Idol, a buzz that happened when a whole generation came together for an hour every week to revel in their competitive entertainment.

As monthly streaming…


How I Got Radicalized

As the daughter of South Vietnamese refugees, I had to hide my interest in Ho Chi Minh’s socialist theories

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a new series that tells a story about a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

It is 2007 and I am 10 years old when my father takes me to an anti-communist protest in Little Saigon, California. Almost everyone there is a South Vietnamese refugee, clutching the corner of a banner or waving the former republic’s yellow and red striped flag. …


How I Got Radicalized

Before it was a camp classic, the 1995 film liberated me from the politics of taste

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a new series that tells a story about a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I still don’t entirely understand the brief teenage phase I had in the mid-1990s, seeking out things I considered outright bad as entertainment. It lasted six to nine months, around the time I was gearing up to take my driver’s test. In retrospect, I don’t know what I was hiding from. This period of time, circa 1996, was a great run for pop culture with a noticeable edge: How weird can you go? People were

GEN

What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store