Girls and the Internet
Drake is afraid of us, you guys? Look: “I hate what Tumblr has become. It reminds me of those clique-y girls in high school that used to make fun of everyone else and define what was cool.” AW, MUFFIN! (He also said “But in five years, when you all graduate, that shit doesn’t matter” which is a fun-for-me reveal that high school used to be five years in Ontario, where the legal drinking age is 19, which incredibly meant that all of us could buy Labatt beer in what y’all call “senior year.” It was boring by then, of course.) DOYOCITY that Drake and every other I’m-cool-I-swear-it dude-boy hates what Tumblr has become: a fucking dense and wild forest of girl concerns and lives and likes and values and the HQ of Girl News. I mean I really like Drake and he lives in my town and stuff but Jesus Christ did you hear “Make Me Proud”? Step down, friend.
There is this enduring, annoying stuff about how girls don’t use the internet as much as guys. I don’t know if that’s true. I do know that girls are so obviously the unchallenged vanguards of the internet, so clearly the winners of such a flexibly temporal space which suits the frantic micro-obsessions and macro-expressions of girl life so exactly that it must be like sooooo embarrassing for men in their 20s. Do men in their 20s, and 30s I guess, who were “First!” on the internet now battle daily with the furies of being bested by tiny pale cunts with long hair (which is how I shittily imagine shitty guys imagine girls)???
Is starting here too obvious, you guys? Do I even get into it?
Twitter is second only to Tumblr for girl-posi-ness. Girls are way more interesting tweeters because it is essentially a colloquial, verbal medium—those bursts! Those hot, tiny bursts!—and it rewards the sentimental, the thoughtful, the curious; less so the factyness and downward, inward boastyness of boys. Like, I love you, boys. I love boys so much that I’m worried about it sometimes. But I have a secret list of Twitter must-reads and other than my tightest guy friends it is aaaaaall ladies.
I think the real-time realness (uck, sorry for that) of Twitter (fashion, too) is what will ultimately save women from aspiring to and disproportionately appreciating the creative work of men in music, film, art, and literature. Basically, Twitter shifts attention and energy away from a paradigm of pop culture or whatever that is just fine and totally great but in no way girl-cohesive and toward a scary-amazing sphere of girlgirlgirlgirlgirl with no middle-men being like “Yes but is it sexy.”
I still don’t know what this is, actually, except that it’s uniformly chicks who use it. S’like, brown tinge?
Every line of the Riot Grrrl Manifesto is answered by the internet: “BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways… BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other's work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other… BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings… BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo.” It’s The Future! Neat.
Did you see The League where Taco makes up the MyFace offline social network and to prove your identity you draw a picture of a spider with penises for legs? Dreamworld.
I can only think of three things about Facebook that aren’t either hideously banal or truly terrible: 1) Photos of your cooler, funner friends who live really far away doing enough cool, fun things that you can create a sweet narrative of what their life is like. 2) On your birthday, when people post on your wall even just “HBD!” it feels really nice and validating and is close to the vibe of a pop-and-chips pre-teenage birthday party, which for me was the height of my life’s experience. 3) Parties.
Girls mostly use Facebook to creep on boys of their past, present and future, and those boys’ exes, which SHOULD make you feel filthy and humiliated in front of your rational self, but which we just do and do and do because we can and it’s just so upsetting. I hate Facebook so much.
GRAINY, SELF-SHOT NUDE PICS THAT EVEN A GOOD GUY WILL PROBABLY SHOW HIS FRIENDS
No no no no. Put your vagina back in your pocket, please.
This is a half-and-half situation, because: 1) Tumblr is where girls are king! Of every space on the internet, this is the one where a girl free-for-all exists and is being built up like a theoretical magic castle; where the dust of 90s nostalgia lives; where you can do the most intense learning about girl lives (and girl-hero lives) because of the instant, unedited access to kind of whoever; where the pro-ana shit and the model shit and the whatever else is there but has nothing on the moody self-direction of what Tumblr essentially is.
2) I fooled you before, with that Drake quote. The rest of what he said was “Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments. It just kills me. Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living. It scares me.” Me too. Totally.
All I know about Skype is that I got to see my friend’s killer apartment in Paris instead of just talking to her on the phone, so…
OK, so I’m over it.
The internet as a whole has been amazingly amazing for girls and women who, previously, paid little formal or canonical attention and had little formal or canonical attention paid to our actual lives, experiences, politics, feelings. A+, internet!
BUT the tragic kingdom (I rate that a “T” for “Topical”) of internet confessionals is that it’s just a bit—a lot—much. I have this feeling (Drake sympathizer) that girls rely on their blogs to take the place of the hard, stupid work of becoming a real and functioning adult in a world that is not, like, about your feelings, or interested in your feelings. My entire career is dedicated to my feelings and I still have about 8,000 per hour that are just mine to sit with alone at my desk willing myself to not take a snooze. At this point I’m a little bit like “Set your alarm clock and get out of bed and then we’ll talk about it.”
OH UM HI YEAH
Related to the above: stop it with this withdrawn, shrunken baby posturing! Don’t fear the dowager, remember? We were more articulate in first grade than we are in the first line of every blog post. It’s not fun or funny to pretend like the “Publish” button snuck up on you.
The WORST! Why did we let this become such a thing that nobody has to go to a store anymore? It’s super nice to see clothes on the internet screen, where you can make them all big and not be oppressed by a fashion editor’s version of what Isabel Marant should be like, but buying something without putting it on your particular girl-body is a crime of capitalism or something.
The actual worst. Every one of us is implicated in it, too, because no matter what it’s offensive: pretty-on-purpose poses are dumb; straight-ahead all-smiles security-pass-style retreats from the ego-strokes of good angles are dumb; photos of somebody else entirely (like, say, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose picture is my current Facebook profile pic) is dumb. The only way to win is to not have a photo, but that’s so Dada as to be an entire statement. I fucking hate Facebook. You know that part in the opening credits of How To Make It In America where a blonde girl has her hair over her face and sunglasses on? It’s not her or anyone’s fault but I want to murder that whole aesthetic one hundred times. Murdering an aesthetic: Dada! See???
Ew, this is for boys.
Don’t care, shouldn’t care, but I get that not everybody has a father who gets irritated when you are pushing for a compliment and is like, “For Christ’s sake, Kathryn, you should get a 95 in English. Stop talking.” Which really is a perfect storm of kindness and cruel expectations necessary for quality self-esteem. But then, like, too much of my internet time (23 hours a day I guess? That’s low-balling) is infected with girls complaining about what other girls think of them on the internet and definitely responding with a pointless culture of self-censoring apologies and over-carefulness and disclaimers and other things that make me so sleepy. It’s like, girls largely refuse to be offensive but then also refuse not to be offended by stuff that doesn’t matter. I don’t really know what to say about this because “It doesn’t matter” doesn’t work and also because when given an opportunity to shut down, box up and return some retarded comment or post or whatever made by someone whose ideas I don’t like and feel smarter than, I probably will. This is unresolvable right now.
FACT: Nobody needs to stop acting dumb more than girls and the number-one reason for unnecessary willful retardation is the internet. FACT: You can’t really be cool on the internet. You know who isn’t on the internet? Ryan Gosling in Drive (is that dated already? Yiiiikes). You know who is on the internet? Latter-day Courtney Love. (Yiiiikes.) You see what I’m saying? Like, The Silent Female is something that we are categorically against but let’s be quite clear about what posting little posts about your little life really comes down to.
The most democratic invention of all of the internet! If anybody writes me an email from a Gmail account we are automatically on either other’s Gchat lists, so even though I block almost everyone who appears there except for the three or four friends with whom I am in emotionally-needy-pink-tongued-puppy chat relationships, you will be there, and I will be forced to see your status message and think about you for a second. And everybody has Gmail! I’m at a point in my life trajectory where I straight refuse to email a Hotmail account.
Tao Lin has entirely ruined what used to be good about GChat, so, I feel like even discussing it as a life element has been contaminated. That’s a CON. A PRO is that when I try to explain about the machinations of language development to anyone Gchat is the only example I really need.
Gchat is really, really good for girls because its convenience and presence and attendant bad spellings and NBFD vibes encourages the kind of riff-based humor that was, until kind of right now, the solid domain of guys. That said, I’m not totally committed to this idea because I feel like my capabilities to predict and exploit the tenor and tone of Gchat conversations are really exceptional, especially when I’m in kind of an ice-cold bitch moment, and my basic Darwinian instincts makes me feel like “Come at me with your Harold and Kumar stuff, girls. Come at me.”
I keep my Gchat on but I’m always Invisible and then when I want to chat I hit up whoever I want who is stupidly “Available.” (What are you, some kind of filthy whore?) I have a theme song for my Gchat status, sung to the tune of “A Milli”: “Invizzie invizzie invizzie.” YUP.
The processes, routes, codes, etc. of the internet are still very male. Also why is everything GREY? Barf. Why is it in English but not really? Also barf.
A sort of logistically shitty thing about the internet is that it makes it easy and obvious to work from home, to have a gig or a contract instead of a real job, and while that can be and so often is a genuine economic problem, especially for women, it also just means that fewer girls work in offices, and working in an office can be really powerful. Still, the most important thing is not who @s what but how it is when you and your boss are breathing in front of each other. This gets complicated in terms of self-presentation and the moderated behavior of office life that I can only guess at. I mean, yesterday I wore hot-pink socklets around the office all day because my motorcycle boots felt heavy. (I also spent 30 minutes after work fighting with a man about the nuances of work life and how women being there isn’t the end of it.) But having a legitimizing physical space to go and to work at is so important for how you feel about yourself and what you can do. Also yesterday, I sat in front of my big-screen computer and talked on a landline and looked out a big window at a lake and touched the books and magazines on my desk while people walked back and forth in front of me and I felt like I was both playing at something and also having the realest, best time.
Previously – Girls and Growing Up
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