internetting with amanda hess

In the age of the selfie, we spend a lot of time showing off our faces. But lately a different body part is vying for attention. (Well: two.) What are our hands trying to tell us? Episode 3 of our video series.

Amanda Hess
  • July 30, 2018
In the age of the selfie, we spend a lot of time showing off our faces. But lately a different body part is vying for attention. What are our hands trying to tell us?Published OnJuly 30, 2018

We’re living in what the French philosopher Michel Serres calls the “Thumbelina Generation”: Instead of talking with our mouths, we’re creating vast visual and textual worlds with finger taps and swipes. And hands aren’t just the drivers of online communication. Now they’re the stars of it, too. Facebook is crawling with “hands-only” videos in which pairs of gorgeous paws wield glue guns and mix slime and cook mini churros or whatever.

I’m conflicted about this trend. On the one hand (I am very sorry), it feels nice to give the face a break, along with all of the cultural baggage the selfie brings. On the other hand, I have crazy hands and please do not look at them. They are the dry, raw, nibbled-on manifestations of my anxiety. And so I D.I.Y. vicariously through the strong, supple hands of, mesmerized by the screen, destroying my own cuticles.

Three times during the season, we’ll be answering your questions over on our YouTube channel. Share your deepest, darkest internet quandaries at or comment on this page.

Episode Notes

Talk to the hands featured here: That’s BeBe Zahara Benet giving face at the beginning, from the video for RuPaul’s 2009 single “Cover Girl.” The man covering Jewel’s “Hands” is singer-songwriter Kyle Hancharick, and I love him; you can find his album here. Scott Loitsch is the man with the hands from which you cannot look away. Ellen Sirot is the hand supermodel featured in this legendary interview. Cardi B’s nail tech is the “Queen of BlingJenny Bui; witness her creations @nailson7th.

Hey: Before this was an episode of “Internetting,” it was an article in The New York Times. I’m indebted to Mr. Loitsch, a producer for Tasty, and Andrew Gauthier, BuzzFeed’s head of video, for speaking to me about how they work with their hands, and to Tubular Labs for providing stats on hands-only videos. Also to James Leo Cahill, a cinema studies professor at the University of Toronto, who put all this hand business in world-historical context: “We’ve seen a re-enchantment of the hand,” he told me. “It’s finally getting its due as an onscreen organ.”

Thumbs up,


“Internetting With Amanda Hess” is a video adventure through our unending dystopian nightmare, in 10 parts. Sign up for email reminders about the latest episodes, or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Amanda Hess is a critic-at-large. She writes about internet culture for the Arts section and contributes regularly to The New York Times Magazine. She has written for such publications as Slate, ESPN the Magazine, Elle and Pacific Standard. @amandahess Facebook


Orignially published in NYT.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
error: Content is protected !!