An Attempt to Feel Less Alone in This Crumbling Empire

Dear Darling Ones,

When I stepped out into the cloudy afternoon light from the darkness of a mid-afternoon nap, I had only two things on my mind: people who are wrong on the internet and people who are puzzling on social media.

I am the physical embodiment of the xkcd comic. I loathe letting people be wrong on the internet. There was a time in the distant past where I would not allow that to happen on my watch. I’ve spent probably years of my life correcting people on the internet. It’s an offshoot of dying on all the hills.

Right now I accidentally read a comment on an article where someone said, “Sorry, Poland. You’re in Eastern Europe. Just because you’re insecure about it doesn’t change history and geography.” And I’m all THE FUCK IT DOES. Poland has always been in central Europe and just because US History and Geography classes have failed you, dumbass commenter, doesn’t make Poland Eastern Europe. Consult a map, numbskull.

There, I feel much better now.

Now onto the puzzling thing. I’ve been thinking about this for much longer than it warrants, and yet my brain can’t let it go. I’m also willing to admit that my annoyance with this phenomenon is due to me being an aging asshole. And yet, and yet, I just want someone to explain things to me.

Here’s what’s been stuck in my craw lately: ladies, usually thin, white, and pretty, who record themselves talking to their phones all the time and then post stories on Instagram (and probably TikTok) about how quirky/funny they, their husbands, and/or their children are. Usually these videos involve a short set-up, a punchline, and then the woman looking at the camera like Jim Halpert from The Office.

What is this? What is the point? I really cannot figure it out.

  • Is it an attempt to be relatable because the person feels like maybe they’re famous?
  • Is it an attempt to be actually famous?
  • Is it an extension of personal branding (barf)?
  • Is it an attempt to be likable so people will fall under your influence and/or buy whatever it is you’re selling?
  • Is it weird performative nonsense meant to foster some sort of community that doesn’t mean to come off as phony and contrived but totally does?
  • Is it the continued evolution of wine mom culture and that’s why I don’t get it?

Perhaps they really want to share genuine pieces of themselves in an attempt to feel less alone in this crumbling empire. I get that, because same.

It’s just really hard to come off as genuine when there are fifteen other videos almost exactly like yours covering the same topics in the same manner by people who look pretty similar to you. Maybe the problem isn’t so much that so many people do this, maybe it’s that they’re bad at it.

There’s one woman I follow on Instagram who has done this sort of talking to her phone’s camera for ages, but it’s genuine and wholly original. It’s literally her riffing into the camera about whatever’s on her mind.

This comes off more judgmental than it should. I’m mostly curious about their motivations more than anything else. I always want to know what someone’s end goal in doing something is. My end goal is to be beloved by dozens and for some devilishly handsome tallish man to be so charmed by my words he sends me an email and then we fall in love the old-fashioned way, through electronic correspondence.

I’m also curious behind what motivates people on Twitter to steal someone’s two-week-old joke and try to play it off as their own. Also, plagiarists in general fascinate me as do con people. Also, men who only surround themselves with art made by men and does it feel kind of homoerotic to them for doing so? Also, most everyone all the time about anything.

Anyway, this has been what’s been swirling around in my brain this weekend. This, and how I think I’ve already unlocked the secret of #BarsOfSummer (1 cup sugar + 1 cup light corn syrup + any sort of thing you want to stick together in bar form).

Contemplatively yours,

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