Alana Massey

Selected as Noteworthy for her ability to unpack the zeitgeist, Alana is your go-to for all things culture

Medium Staff
May 31, 2017 · 5 min read

Like champagne in a soda bottle or a Shakespearean play written in emoji, Alana Massey bridges high culture and low. Reverence and irreverence. Virtue, vice, and all the gray areas in between. With a catalog spanning fashion, 90's cartoons, and unabashed celebrity worship, her stories reveal the intersection between what we click, swipe, or share — and who we are.

Arriving in New York after college, Alana admits to being “a walking cliché of a disastrous 20-something.” You’ve heard this story before: Girl meets City, rents an apartment, and promptly embarrasses herself. A disappointing assistant job + a dwindling bank account + a few (or more) nights of regrettable sex = a good story, right? Almost. When Alana’s jobs left her high and dry, she supported herself by working as a stripper. That’s Departure #1 from the Twenty-Something Fable. The second is what happens next.

In an attic, or a basement, or a USB stick somewhere is Alana’s degree from Divinity School. She graduated from Yale five years ago with a Master’s in Religion. “I was just a messy 24-year-old who loved church,” she admits. “I sort of caught Christianity like a cold.” What little faith she had, though, was DOA. Yale provided a lot to chew on, but not much to believe in. “I found what I learned informing me much more when I got back to New York than shaping my worldview while I was there.”

Packing up her faith and heading back to Brooklyn, she began to write — personal essays, at first, until she found a niche. Guided by her experience finding (and losing) religion, Alana views culture through the lens of belief: Where do we seek truth? Celebrity. Beauty. Pop music. Are you a Directioner? Alana sure is. She often expounds on the wonders of One Direction, and how — to quote a recent story — “they are a cultural moment that borders on the holy.” Alana is also a Winona… who morphed into a Gwyneth. She is, above all, Against Chill. With every story, Alana crystallizes cultural trends, unpacking our idols in front of our eyes.

And people love it. “Against Chill,” which dissects millennials’ tendency to avoid commitment, reached millions. “Indecision is not a noble virtue,” reads one of its most highlighted sentences. Of the oft-sexted phrase, “I don’t really like putting labels on things,” Alana argues: “But putting labels on things are how people find the exit during a fire and make sure they’re adding vanilla extract to the cake instead of arsenic.” Seeking a voice of reason in an ocean of ambivalent hook-ups, several readers responded with variations on “thank you.”

Escaping New York with her cat and a suitcase full of Harry Styles fan art, Alana recently bid goodbye (to all that). Home, now, is a 19th-century farmhouse near Woodstock, New York, nestled in the woods. Waking up at 5 a.m. every day, she is as dedicated to writing as some are to religion. It’s a brand of adulting Alana never would’ve expected in her 20s.

But people change. We live multiple lives, all at once. “There’s an intellectual self, there’s a romantic self, there’s a new friendship self,” Alana says. The internet, above all, may be the best place for us to curate and share these fragments of our identities. “In writing, I am Alana Massey: semi-broken, but hopeful, apostate about religion and the end of the world, and theology and grace.” One story later, she’ll transform into “Alana! Unlucky in Love! Cat lover and Harry Styles fan!” There is no correct answer. Alana’s words remind us that we contain multitudes.

In her new book, All The Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen To Be Famous, Alana prays at the altar of every celebrity she’s ever worshipped: Lana Del Rey, Anna Nicole Smith, Nicki Minaj. The book encapsulates this writer’s unique lens: social critique meets unapologetic fandom. “I’m sorry I wrote my feelings all over your internet,” reads Alana’s forever-bio. And the internet wouldn’t be the same without them.

Check out some of Alana’s most Noteworthy stories:

Noteworthy

Words change everything.