Roxane Gay, the first and last bad feminist in the entire world, planted a series of taunting concepts in her New York Times column called “Why People Are So Awful Online” that are so awe-inducing they have her colleague Kara Swisher saying “This.”
As for why people misbehave on Twitter, Gay says that the force of “the news” is too much for us to bear without voicing our opinions on it. At the risk of succumbing to the impulse to voice my own toxic opinions on the news, this part of her column gave me pause:
We hold in equal contempt a war criminal and a fiction writer who too transparently borrows details from someone else’s life. It’s hard to calibrate how we engage or argue.
Here she links to a recent Slate essay about the real life Cat Person, rather than showing her readers a tangible, clickable example of the internet holding Donald Rumsfeld, for example, in “equal contempt” to short story author Kristen Roupenian. One might say that Gay was writing with hyperbole, something that went over my head as a classic internet user with no concept of nuance. But is drawing a false equivalence about social media in the pages of the New York Times just as bad as committing war crimes? Let’s investigate.
In a well-reviewed book of autofiction last year, a one-time mentor of mine called me (or a proxy version of me) “doughy” and then described me as eating 15-oz pints of yogurt in class every day, straight out of the tub with a plastic spoon. She also transcribed into this work of autofiction a word-for-word conversation I had with her while reporting on a sexual harassment rumor I’d heard. This hurt my feelings, especially the part about being doughy. And yet, the contempt I feel for Dick Cheney and George W. Bush far outweighs the anger I feel about being described in a book as a yogurt-chugging gossip.
To my knowledge, none of the perpetrators of Operation Teardrop have ever said anything about my body in print, lightly rude or otherwise, and still, I would rather use my online platform to surface their problematic pasts rather than the misdeeds of this other person.