An interview with hotblockchain
Hotblockchain, also known as nothotblockchain, hotblockchainissad, and cryptobaddie1, is a niche internet microcelebrity, with almost 650,000 current TikTok followers, as well as 11,700 Twitch followers. She also goes to Carnegie Mellon! Recently she took time out of her schedule for an interview with us. Here it is, abridged and slightly edited for clarity.
Pillbox: Thanks for doing this interview.
HBC: My pleasure.
Pillbox: I’d like to ask you some questions. So how many TikTok accounts have you had?
HBC: I've had quite a few. Throughout high school, my family was middle class and once my dad passed halfway through my sophomore year, it was made very clear to me that college was not something I could afford unless I was involved in that. Throughout high school, I created three different accounts on Tik Tok to test the algorithm out. And then when I got accepted to Carnegie, I created my first account that was designed for the algorithm, but that got banned. Right now, I have four accounts, and they're all kind of backups at this point.
Pillbox: So how did you go about designing them for the algorithm?
HBC: My first account was just for messing around, and then one of my videos got a million views. I wasn't in it because I was curious to see what it took. It was just a little funny thing, but I promptly deleted that account. My second account was kinda overtly sexual, and I was 16 at the time, so I was curious to see how that would work. Obviously I wasn’t doing anything sexual. And then my third account was a political account, and that was to see how my ideas would be received. That one I really liked, but I deleted it because it was becoming more about my own opinion than about information. But I noticed that even when the content was purely political, there was a lot of sexualizing of me in the comments. And so when I created my account the day I got into CMU, I figured out the image to cultivate. A third of it is your personality, and in that personality, it's like: I'm not stupid and I'm not looking to grab your money. It's like, I'm innocent and these are my outfits and I have fun. So that's kind of the image that I cultivate. Additionally I added in aspects of being nerdy to some accounts, but not to others just to see how that played out.
Pillbox: So why do you think you keep getting banned?
HBC: That one's easy. I have big boobs and so that's half of it. The other half of it is that I have an ex-boyfriend whose new girlfriend hates my guts and reports every single one of my videos. And on TikTok, it takes like one report, if it's substantiated, to get it under review. And the more videos you have under review, the more likely you are to get banned. So she's really, you know, the bane of my existence at the moment.
Pillbox: That's rough. As a public figure, you're open-facing. Does that lead to harassment?
HBC: Yeah. So actually, it's a weird kind of harassment because for one I get recognized by CMU students and other people at every bar and party I go to, which is kind of weird. But it's also the little things, right? There was a time that I was just in my dorm and this kid came and knocked on the dorm. I was streaming on Twitch and he was like, “Oh I'm going to shout out my friends.” To the students here, it's funny, it's in good fun, but it shows people online — who I do get a lot of death threats from — that it's incredibly easy to find me. So the harassment in person is not what I would call real harassment so much as it gives inertia to the idea that those death threats could have weight.
Pillbox: Is that why you changed your Instagram name?
HBC: Yeah. All of my accounts. You can't find my last name anywhere now, thank God, because I also am the only person ever to have my name, because my last name is traditionally Macedonian, and Emily does not go with that. So if you have my last name, you can find my address, and that's really scary.
Pillbox: Do you think you're going to continue doing TikTok and Twitch as a career path?
HBC: Well, I think it would be a naïve assumption to assume. Obviously, when I'm 23, there will be a bouncier, bubblier 18 year old who's more enticing. I really like Twitch, I want to keep doing that as long as I can, because on Twitch, I've made genuine connections. TikTok is an avenue to send people to my Twitch account.
Pillbox: So do you have future plans for your Twitch account?
HBC: I do. A lot of people assume that my Twitch account is similar to the kind of content I do on TikTok when in reality, it's mostly study hours and homework and just talking and stuff. And that's something that I can see myself doing for a long time, as long as people want me to keep doing it. So the plan there is to just continuously provide the experience that is college, the college dorm, because I think that's one of the enticing things about it. And then whatever my career is at that point, hopefully I will have people who are interested primarily in me and my life, and that would just be the same way that YouTubers vlog updates with me.
Pillbox: You see yourself cultivating a different fan base on Twitch.
HBC: I think I am, just because the way that people interact with me on Twitch is insanely different from the way they do on TikTok or Clover or any of the other apps I'm on.
Pillbox: I was looking through some of the TikToks and all the comments were people writing very sexualizing comments, which sounds like it would get on your nerves.
HBC: I mean, it's the function of how I afford this school, right? Like it’d be silly of me to pretend I could get on the internet, post what I post or even just stand there, and not be sexualized. And to be fair, I do profit off that sexualization and that misogyny. I think it would be naïve and ignorant to presume that that wouldn't happen. So it's not that it necessarily gets on my nerves just so much as it's expected.
Pillbox: With school work and social life and four TikToks and Twitch and all these other accounts, how do you balance it all?
HBC: Well, it's my job, right. I really wanted to go to school here, and I realized that the tradeoff there was that sometimes I don't always get to do fun things. Sometimes I have to stay in and work. And like, I understand that it doesn't really seem like work, but you know, it is a lot. I'm my own manager, I have to consult with brands by myself, and I do my taxes by myself. It's scary, but this was the deal that I made with myself so I could attend. And it helps that my community is supportive of me, sometimes just sitting silently and doing my homework. I really appreciate that about them because it allows me to keep this up.