Aja Dang: Student Loan Debt Influencer

I first heard of Aja Dang from this story in Yahoo Finance about a woman who paid down $100K in student debt.  As I have kids in college, this story really attracted my attention.  When I think of “influencer”, I think of beauty influencers like Michelle Phan and people on Instagram projecting the “perfect” life, but a student loan debt influencer?   Intrigued, I decided to see what she was all about it and to figure out 1) how she accumulated $200K in student debt and 2) how she paid off half of it.

First, I asked my kids about her.  Number One Son follows her (not surprising as she was a 2011 Maxim Hometown Hottie and as does The Daughter does, while Number Two Son has a friends who do although he doesn’t.  The Daughter said she became interested in Aja Dang after the personal finance and debt videos started coming out.  When I looked at her YouTube channel, which Dang says is her main avenue of expression, I found she had some videos you might expect, such as travel videos, beauty tips, and music video parodies.  But also there were finance videos, where she goes over her monthly budgets.  She even posts spreadsheets of her monthly budgets online. Seems like a weird area for an influencer to make a living, but many of the commenters on her visitors find them useful and even inspirational.

How did she accumulate $200K in student debt?  In this interview (and in the video above) she says that she borrowed money to cover undergraduate private school, and then borrowed more for a masters at USC.   Does she regret going to college?  Not really, although one of her recommendations is that people who not sure if what they want to do should take a gap year to figure it out.  She reminds that people that they don’t have to go an expensive private school, as she did twice.

My other question was how she paid down $100K in around a year.  I took a look at her budget spreadsheets, and she made substantial amounts of money with “brand” deals.   Her YouTube income and her side hustles (I found her video on side hustles to be very interesting) are much smaller in comparison.  In the above video, she is doesn’t have that brand income yet and is scraping by making debt payments by doing things like dog walking. Her spreadsheets show that the life of a freelancer is extremely unpredictable, with very large variations in income month to month.

Check her out at her web site or her YouTube channel.

Josh Paler Lin’s Homeless Video: Truly Unstaged or Just Another Prank?

You may have seen this video released during the holidays where YouTube Prankster Josh Paler Lin gives $100 to a homeless man and follows him to see what he will do with money. The homeless man named “Thomas” goes to a liquor store, but instead of buying of alcohol which Lin and a lot of other people would expect, he gets food which he distributes to other homeless people in a local park. Lin apologizes to Thomas about his stereotyping, and the video goes viral. Is this a truly touching moment, a life lesson about making assumptions, or is it as some point out, a hoax and staged money making scheme?  What does this say, if anything, about Asian Americans and YouTube?

It should be mentioned that the sentiments expressed in the video are not at all bad.  Homeless people are people, and not just mindless alcoholics or junkies as many assume.  Stereotyping is wrong, and the video makes that clear.  These sentiments, perhaps including guilt over how people have felt about the homeless, have pushed the views on the video into past 32 million.

That being said, even the noblest of ideas lose power when people sense that they are made under false pretenses.   Those saying the video is staged point out logical inconsistencies, like why Thomas would pass up a closer and cheaper market and go to a more expensive and farther away liquor store to buy food.   One witness is claiming that he saw Lin drive Thomas to the liquor store and another says that he was in the liquor store prior to Thomas arriving.  A man has surfaced saying that he is the brother of “Thomas” says that “Thomas” is really named Kevin and is actually owed an inheritance.

Why would Lin do this? 

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Mythmaking: On YouTube “Celebrity” Cults, Their Hubris, and Avarice


The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man. – Frank Herbert, Dune

In Dave Eggers’ foreword to Kurt Vonnegut’s last posthumous publication, While Mortals Sleep, he highlights three points about getting attention the Information Age we live in, especially with new media like YouTube and Facebook and Twitter. If back in the day you actually had to be good and had morals and wisdom to impart in order to be published as a writer, now you have to have at least one of these characteristics to be noticed: loud, radical, and insane. Oftentimes, people are all three. But that doesn’t mean they are good or imparting anything worth learning from–or at least, they help us to learn what not to do or who not to be (see Alexandra Wallace and her Asians in the Library video for an example of having all three characteristics).
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Red Bean & Kimchi Brings Improv Talk Show To YouTube

It is a great pleasure of mine to introduce you all to Red Bean & Kimchi, a new online improvisational talk show which features many emerging Asian American Artists and non-profit community service organizations. It’s a YouTube show that broadcasts weekly every Monday night with special footage airs on Thursday and Sunday nights, with Facebook contests throughout the season. This can be likened to Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns except a lot less awkward for the guest’s part (well, it depends on who).

You can check out one of their later episodes here which features a dude that looks a lot like me but with a severe case of paranoia and hyper sensitivity…oh wait, that is me. Ah drats.

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Awesome Dance Lessons With Mike Song


Have you always wanted to dance and actually look awesome while doing it? Thanks to Mike Song here (from KABA Modern fame), he is providing a fantastic service where a new dance tutorial will be released every Tuesday. It’s EXTREMELY informative, and Mike definitely takes his time showing the moves so you can learn at your own pace. Unlike dance classes, you can always pause and rewind and keep doing it until you get it just right. Too awesome.

H/T to Angela R!!

National Film Society Hosts PBS Online Film Festival

The National Film Society is hosting PBS’ very first online film festival, which premiered on Monday, February 27th. First of all, who’s the National Film Society, you ask?

The NFS consists of Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco as their YouTube channel produces weekly web videos about movies, filmmaking and pop culture with a uniquely brainy and offbeat style. Check out more information on these two amazing hosts on the PBS website.

Each Monday for the next 5 weeks, the National Film Society will introduce a new category of films to explore. The first release is New Stories, which you can check out now. From there, you can check out the central PBS Online Film Festival website for future categories that will be released.

The YTF Christmas Party With 8Asians

What is YTF? What does it actually mean? At first when I heard of this “YTF”, I was literally thinking “Why the…Fudge?” Then I’ve come to learn that YTF is a group comprised of some of the biggest YouTube entertainers, that when totaled, their combined members garner over 1.3 billion views and a subscriber base of 8 million fans. Led by Ryan Higa aka NigaHiga and Kevin Wu aka KevJumba, their mission is “to share the group’s personal message of empowerment with its fans.

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Why Do People Hate Asian Male/White Female Relationships?

So I was actually looking up to see whether or not Match.com or eHarmony had done any commercials with AMWF since it seemed like it’s the new thang to do as far as couples on television. I thought I saw a commercial with a mixed couple on there but instead I ran across this video of EmIlY72912.

In my experience, I’ve ran across very similar types of haters. I’m also going to assume that this is gender irrelevant and works the other way around.

  1. Caucasians: Most of these are more in line with white supremacy. Can’t dilute the line, yadda yadda.
  2. Asian females: Same but these are the ones that are insecure as if there aren’t enough Asian men to go around or something. Emily points out that it could be some sort of jealousy. There’s also mention of dilution of line.
  3. Asian Males: Same as Asian females and still the mention of dilution of line.

What’s with the fear of dilution of line? And, why are there insecurities of whom people date/marry and why must they date within or exclusive to any race? Why does it even matter?

While I can’t speak for everyone, and can only speak on my personal experiences, I have to say that whether it’s physical attraction, mental, both, love, or whatever other reason that two individuals get together, it doesn’t really matter what “line” is diluted. Hate to break it to everyone that’s in the dark, but your line statistically speaking has probably been diluted already. Or the decisions to date exclusive to one race or not. I know plenty of people that date different races and some date exclusive to certain races. Purely a preference thing and who am I to judge whom they choose to love, care about, or just bone? And neither should you: Worry about yourself, your own love life, or sex life, or whatever other type of relationship you have and get your noses out of other people’s business, please. And if you just can’t help yourself? That’s okay — just don’t get all teary-eyed when you get thrown into one of those three categories.