The Legacy of Nasim Najafi Aghdam

The YouTube shooter is not only a compelling avatar of internet culture, but may also be among the most relevant contemporary artists of our time.

Jonathan Sykes
15 min readApr 5, 2018
Aghdam with her beloved pet rabbit

It was most definitely a case where fake news thrives; a Twitter army hastily reporting just hours after a shooting that this was the woman who was initially reported as attempting to kill her boyfriend at the San Bruno YouTube headquarters. Looking at the links being sent around, it seemed far too perfect, too absurd to be true.

But somehow, it was true. Well, not entirely — the boyfriend part was fake — ostensibly an attempt to keep a “terrorism” narrative from surfacing, as initial reports had described an Iranian woman wearing a headscarf, which of course, means…

As to her identity, it was true, if nearly impossible to believe: This was her. This was the skinny Persian woman with the Frida look and eerily flat affect, author of hundreds if not thousands of videos and photos which appeared to be a mix of vegan and PETA activism, critiques of modern societal values including body image, mental shallowness, weak ties of friendship, greed and technological materialism. (She was also a prolific publisher of recipe, crafting, health and exercise videos.) All told, she can only be acurately…