For me, sometimes it’s a breaking news story that twists heroes into villains, or a tweet that casts a spell on me: Think differently, it prods, what’s right is wrong, what’s wrong is right, change your mind, think like us. It's confusing, lots of mixed messages and peer pressure. I don’t know what to think anymore, but maybe I never did, and I'm just noticing now, with the internet and all.
I live in the golden age of feminism and the boom years of the Instagram model. #Metoo is torpedoing men’s battleships while fat asses online make millions; it's an era where the only cries louder than women's call to arms are our thirst traps. Platitudes about women demanding more for ourselves sit neatly in the checkerboard of my Instagram homepage beside cleavage selfies and candid glamor shots. All of it culminates into a digital quilt reminding me that I can change the world as long as I aspire to be strongest, sexiest me I can be. I'd like to destroy the patriarchy, but then wonder if it would be easier to just cash in and take my clothes off online. Woman have so many options today. If Mary Wollstonecraft could see us now!
In 2018, a posterior that looks like a metastasized tumor catapults women into the role of the internet influencer. My instincts revile women who share pictures of their butt for profit, but my social education tasers me into a more progressive dialogue with myself. ZAP! Don’t hate the player hate the game. ZAP! Sound advice. Especially for someone as ambitious as me. I only hate the player because I want to be a player. Besides, I’m too vain to be Holden Caulfield, (in fact, so was J.D Salinger. He cashed in by being a misanthrope, a lesson in authenticity!) I’d love to go viral by trying not to go viral, that would satisfy both my ego and pestering rectitude. But beggars can't be choosers and I don't mind working for it. I take becoming an influencer seriously. Every day I wake up and study the greats: Jenna Marbles, Jeffree Star and Donald Trump. I learn a little bit from all of them.
Curating my social media has become an existential crisis. I’m continually asking myself do I really like this, or do I just think I should like this? Is this body positivity or gross narcissism? Is this empowerment or strong branding? Am I starving artist or starving my soul?
Today online, I saw a twenty-year-old woman sitting on a tricycle in a bikini, and her caption was a fifteen hundred word story detailing her rape. She tagged the swimsuit company in her essay but not the perpetrator of her assault, and along with a violent description of the attack were twenty-three hashtags which included #girlpower, #metoo, and #yolo. I don’t follow this woman. She just appeared on my homepage, propelled into my consciousness by the nepotism of algorithms. I clicked on her picture because even from a tiny thumbnail I could tell she was attractive. The photo enlarged, I confirmed this assumption and reading her heartbreaking assault story, I was triggered into a million spirals of conscience. Is she a rape victim using her sexuality to spread sexual assault awareness? Or, is she a cunning businesswoman, capitalizing off a hashtag, using everything in her power to wrangle attention, ignoring or perhaps not understanding the additional damage that comes from sharing a profoundly traumatic event with the world? Do any of these questions even matter? Also, what does this make me? I clicked on her image because I was lured in by her beauty only to be blue balled by the sobering reality that this soft porn image is just click bait for a domestic abuse PSA. Is she fetishizing her rape or am I just an asshole?
Then comes the jealousy. Her story, no matter how devastating, blasts her into the public consciousness in a way I’ve always wanted to be. In a bout of amnesia, I forget her pain and see only her likes, the follow-up articles, and her growing number of followers. I’m not thinking about her struggle or torment, I’m just cursing myself, for not being savvy or tortured enough to do the same thing. And then I think maybe I can do the same thing. I will share my story. I'll capitalize off of my trauma. I’ll build my empire under the guise of helping others, it’s so easy, or at least it looks easy from my side of the screen.
My mind is chewed up. Somewhere, perhaps on an empty tab on my laptop, my empathy takes its last breath. These wicked thoughts cannot go unpunished. The taser is out. It lives in 5G now. I’m not wielding it anymore. It’s coming for me, not even Siri can stop it. ZAP Women share stories online out of pure altruism ZAP They never have ulterior motives ZAP Influencers are vigilantes ZAP If I do enough squats, the world will love me ZAP Share every traumatic thing that’s ever happened to you ZAP You don’t need talent as long as you have ptsd ZAP Bonus points if you have both ZAP