So much internet, so little time. Good on the Internet is our running attempt to highlight things that, in contrast to most of the toxic sludge found online, might actually make you smile.
This week an investigation from the Outline revealed that Neopets, the early-2000s web game aimed at kids, had ties to Scientology … so naturally Chrissy Teigen decided the time was ripe to log back into her old account. Teigen started reminiscing about her Neopets days on her Twitter account on Thursday, and it only took her 20 minutes to go from “I miss neopets” to “fuck it, I’m going back on neopets.” She must have either excellent or really terrible infosec, because she still had her passwords and everything.
Teigen is a model and the wife of musician (and one-time Slate contributor) John Legend, but her internet claim to fame is that she basically lives on Twitter, where she is an unusually funny tweeter, especially when compared with the dull and self-promotional styles practiced by most famous people. Teigen is also currently pregnant with her second child, which might limit her ability to do certain things and therefore increase her capacity to waste time on Twitter.
The appeal of Teigen’s online persona has always been that she approaches the internet like a native rather than a tourist: She understands not only basics that many famous people miss, like how to @-reply and quote-tweet, but also the finer points of internet culture, like the art of screenshotting a dumb headline and dialoguing with it. This week we gained further insight into why that is: She was right there on Neopets with the rest of us. And to be clear, there was nothing cool about Neopets—it was a virtual world where players cared for digital pets, participated in a virtual economy, traded on the NEODAQ stock market, chatted with Neofriends, and engaged in various other extremely dorky activities. And Teigen didn’t just play Neopets; she was a freaking comment board moderator there. She’s been doing this internet thing.
Teigen’s “1/59” annotation was a joke, and a savvy, self-effacing one—she was implying that she planned to go on about her return to Neopets for another 58 tweets. She didn’t, but the truth is, no one would have minded. There’s simply something fun about envisioning a super-gorgeous pregnant swimsuit model who is married to a music superstar sitting in her mansion, playing on Neopets, and tweeting about it. In recent decades, vectors of celebrity culture like Us Weekly’s “Stars—They’re Just Like Us” feature and the advent of social media have done the work of transforming stars—at least some stars—into more relatable figures than the larger-than-life giants of yesteryear. But, as with when Drake showed up on Twitch, it’s still rare to get a glimpse of a star’s actual, unmanicured digital life, and for that reason it feels intimate. Drake and Teigen are 31 and 32, respectively, making them part of one of the first generations of stars who have grown up along with the internet and who may have just as many digital memories as IRL ones. It’s weird that it turns out Scientology may all been the Illuminati of the Neopets universe all along, but if it took Scientology to give us this delightful Chrissy Teigen return to Neopia, then hail Xenu, it was all worth it.