On forums like r/MomForAMinute, people pretend to be the family members who may be missing from others’ lives

Illustration: Genevieve Ashley

Growing up, Laura had a tumultuous relationship with her parents, in particular her mother, who was emotionally abusive. As an adult, she would weep after every one of her mom’s visits, and in January, she began distancing herself, seeking advice through Reddit support groups for people in similar situations.

Laura — who, like others in this article, has been granted anonymity due to the sensitivity of their stories — came across a subreddit called r/MomForAMinute. It was through this 140,000-member community that she found online what had evaded her IRL: a caring family.

On r/MomForAMinute, people post thoughts that they…


“I’m supposedly faking every single aspect of my identity for some Instagram followers,” one target says.

Photo illustration sources: MR.Cole_Photographer/FS Productions/Getty Images

At the height of summer last year, Sophie received an Instagram DM on her phone from an account she didn’t follow. “I’m going to make you disabled,” it read. With it came a photograph, one of her and her friends crossing the street. The photo suggested to Sophie — a 22-year-old who asked that her real name not be used — that not only did this stranger know where she lived, but they were watching her. The threat, and others like it that she’d been receiving for months, soon made her dread leaving the house. …


Influencers have shot to fame by sharing experiences with addiction, but their success is fraught

Photo Illustration. Photo Source: Getty / Fizkes / Yulia Reznikov

Throughout most of his twenties, Jason Ortega only once used drugs — a “minor mushroom trip,” he says. But after his first edible, he was hooked. Soon, he was using work credit cards to buy supplies from his local dispensary in Colorado. Edibles gave way to smoking marijuana, a daily habit that affected his everyday life.

“I hated leaving my apartment, and I became very antisocial,” Ortega says. “I acknowledged it was a terrible habit, but I was very content.”

Eventually, for the sake of his three children, he decided to quit. That’s when he turned to YouTube star CG…


There’s big business in crudely re-recorded karaoke versions of pop songs

Image: Unsplash/Forja2 MX

As a teenager, Nya Crea would rush home from school and rehearse karaoke tracks every night. She found endless inspiration in Christina Aguilera, Aretha Franklin, Pink and “diva singers with powerful voices and charismatic personalities,” she says from her London home. After 12 years as a professional singer-songwriter, Crea now shares new material and Whitney Houston covers with her 35,000-odd YouTube subscribers.

“I’m always looking for instrumentals to add my voice to,” she says, but until a few months ago struggled to find backing tracks she’d actually want her name attached to. One day, while Crea was frustratedly scrolling through…

Jack Needham

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