My friend Bethany and I met up for drinks on Friday. She needed to talk to someone because she’d just been ghosted by the latest guy she’d met on Bumble, and my brain was identified as one that could be non-invasively picked to try and help find an answer as to why things like this keep happening to her.
“Well, you keep meeting people on places like Bumble, for one.” We were at some sleazy bar just south of downtown.
“That’s not true! I told you my friend Casey met her current husband on OkCupid! People do it all the time! It happens!”
“So what? It’s not about their meeting their current significant other on one of these sites, it’s where are they going to be in five or ten years with this same person? There’s not an algorithm in the world that can put in the work.”
“They’d already been together for that long! If you count the amount of time they spent together before they got married.”
“Whatever, man. It’s like GMO. Give it thirty years of straight up consumption of the stuff and non-Monsanto-funded research. Then tell me it’s fucking safe.”
“Then where the hell am I supposed to meet people?”
“Now that’s the real question. How about in a bar? Seems like a good place,” I said. “Look at that guy in the sweat pants and leather jacket. I can guarantee you he’s single. Look, no ring. I mean, at least not on his ring finger.”
“You dick. I’ve done that. I’ve done dance, I’ve done yoga, I’ve done bars, I’ve dated at work, I’ve gone online.”
“Stallhoneys.com, was it?”
“You didn’t tell anyone about that, did you?”
“You mean, like, ‘tell’ them, or post it on the Eugene subreddit?” I said.
“You fuck. Tell me!”
“Not anybody you know.”
Suddenly she got a text. “My friend Sigglin is coming tonight.”
“I haven’t seen her in ages and she’s only in town for a couple nights, so chill out. I told her to stop by. She’s outside parking now.”
“Wait a second, wait a second—Sigglin? The uhhh…what’s it called?”
Social. Media. Influencer. The modern world’s most sought-after sinecure, and the most loathsome profession for people who actually get paid to work at real jobs.
In the ‘50s, it was marry a rich guy! In the ‘60s, it was trick people slightly less high than you into thinking you knew something they didn’t! In the ‘70s, it was invent the thing everybody had to own but never actually knew what the point of it was! In the ‘80s, it was be a game show host! In the ‘90s, it was invent PayPal if you couldn’t cut it as a super model!
And it took a little while, but with its unrestricted, minimum standard of acceptance, unthreatening appeal and perfect price to join, the internet—along with millions and millions of hungry, hive-minded social media users—somehow conceived and then gestated this comparatively talentless yet hugely popular 21st century monstrosity called the Internet Celebrity:
Vloggers, influencers, YouTubers, elite Yelpers, RKOI’s or some cross-over hybrid of two or more of these things, or just something else, entirely.
It redefines the term “social media ambivalence regarding cyber mavens,” or S.M.A.R.C.M. Which is a thing I totally just made up. It’s the phenomenon of hating people on social media who appear so much better than you because they can travel whenever they want wherever they want and have so many more followers (and who condescend to you without even knowing it by referring to you, sitting by yourself in the living room, as “Hey guys!”), while being completely fascinated/jealous/enamored/in one-sided competition with them at the same time.
So, eventually she walks in. And she looked exactly as I figured she would. Long, straight dark hair that looked like she just stepped out of a Paul Mitchell commercial. Highlights. A Nieman-Marcus poncho, a pair of thoroughly-ripped designer jeans. Tassled, deerskin boots, this fucking cowboy hat looking thing on her back, held there by a leather string across her neck. Big loop earrings. Subtle, here-and-there, overly-artistic tattoos. So trying to look casual and earthy but obviously covered in over $1,000 worth of wardrobe and skin care products.
They hugged as half the bar looked them up and down, then sat down. After Bethany introduced her to me, they started talking, and I just listened. I could tell she was already a little drunk.
“So, maybe you can weigh in on this,” Bethany says. “Ho and I were talking about this whole people ghosting you on online dating sites after a few weeks of talking.”
“Oh, I’ve had to ghost quite a few people,” Sigglin said. “For being weird, and sometimes threatening rape or other types of violence. It’s not been nice. I had this one guy this one time tell me how much he was in love with me, and then what a bitch I was and that he was going to wait for me outside my work and run me over with his pickup. And God, speaking of, I haven’t been laid in months, Beth. Work has been so intense! Sorry,” she apologized to me, then went on, “I haven’t had time to even stop and check under the hood as often as I used to. And I, you know me, I need it. A lot. Multiples, all the time.”
“So, you’re not with Doherty anymore?” Bethany said.
“No, that was—I didn’t tell you—God, it has been a while since we talked. No—he and I ended it…four months ago. Four months? No…yeah. I told—and I told him from the start, that the kind of man I was looking for was able to satisfy my needs—and it was okay if that wasn’t him—which I spelled out in the beginning of the relationship. But, in the end, it really—we weren’t compatible,” Sigglin said. “Which was fine. We’re still friends. And that was right around when Hahli introduced me to Rich, anyway.”
“Oh! I remember hearing about him—we have talked!” Bethany said. “Wasn’t he the one with the…big…?” and she stuck her hands about nine inches apart. Maybe ten.
Sigglin nodded, her tongue touching her upper lip. “It’s true, I am a size queen,” I think she was saying to me again. “But if a pair of half-exposed D cups can get me a job at Goldman Sachs before a more qualified man, then I consider holding out for an eight/nine inches—which, believe me, is rare—a direct statement against the Patriarchy.”
“Like a Jane Austen novel,” I said.
“Exactly,” she said. “I actually don’t need a relationship to feel fulfilled in my life. I told Doherty that in the beginning. I get all my needs from the goddess Nature, the dance and yoga communities, surfing, my toys and my friends. Like this one,” she grabbed Bethany’s arm and leaned on her. “I am so happy to see you!”
Bethany was a little more subdued. Because she knew me. I pounce on vacuous and meaningless rapport like a Goliath birdeater tarantula, piercing it with my fangs and then sucking out its essential life fluids until what’s left is just a wizened and lifeless, syntactical husk.
And then stand up on my hind legs and make stridulating noises by rubbing the hair-like bristles together on my pedipalps before going off to get another beer. It helps me to digest my meals.
“Did you ever meet up with Bori on your way through Yosemite?” Bethany said.
“No,” Sigglin said, “he decided to head back to Spain to meet up with his surf buddies a week early, so.”
“Oh, that must be nice,” Bethany replied.
“I know, right? He wanted me to go with him last year, but it was right around the time of Burning Man, so I couldn’t. But it’s fine. I mean, I still have the Fukuoku Emily gave me.”
The Fukuoku. You know this thing? The vibrating device that fits on your finger, supposed to help with localized back pain and shit? I remember seeing it at 2:00 in the morning on QVC, and I remember thinking, ‘What part of your body is small enough to get a massage from this thing? Ohhhh, right.’
I was starting to doubt the whole thing, like it was all for show, to impress me. Or at least to shock me. Like her life, every time she met a stranger, was all for show or to shock them somehow, so they would be interested enough in her to start following her on social media.
Because you’re talking about nine, ten inch dicks, getting fucked three times a day, and then you have to go home and whack it? You know who gets fucked three times a day by eight or nine inch dicks, and then goes home and whacks it? Anyone?
Or possibly the Amish.
Once before the harvest,
Twice after the grain;
Third time, late at night,
Ohhh, the pain…
“Super busy, though, yeah,” Sigglin went on. “What with all the shoots I’ve been doing and then adminning all my IG accounts.
“I saw. You got a huge surge in followers since the last time. It’s like up over like twenty thousand,” Bethany said.
“Yeah. We just last week started a new campaign with the National Rainforest Alliance. They were such awesome people. God, I loved working with them.”
“And your ‘dudes’ account,” Bethany said.
“I know,” Sigglin chuckled.
Bethany turned to me: “Sigglin started an Instagram account that reproduces all the DM’s she gets from dudes either hitting on her, giving her career advice or telling her how much they don’t like her.”
“I opened it up for submission and suddenly it went insane. It’s not as good as my other one, my main account,” Sigglin said. “But I’m—ooohh! we’re in talks with some with prominent LGBTQ organizations about getting some cross-branding going on. That’d be so fun! I get tons of followers who identify as LGBTQ, tons of friends of mine are out. I wish I was. I’ve tried, believe me. But I identify as heteroflexible. Demi- and sapio-. Sexual, that is. Cis. She/her pronouns. But deffo straight. Mostly,” she giggled. I was wondering at what point she felt it necessary to begin dictating her EliteSingles profile out loud. You could cut the aura of self-importance around her with a Wiccan ceremonial athamé blade.
“And that’s ‘sis’ with two s’s?” I finally said. I could see Bethany dart her eyes at me from out of the corner of my own.
And in them, I could detect the fear.
“Wh—what?” Sigglin smiled.
“Like a bro. You know. But a sis. I mean, the female version of a bro. That’s not lost on you, right?”
“Um, excuse me?”
“Starting up an Instagram account to make fun of the innocent ignorance and arguable stupidity of a type of guy, and then to seek out sponsorship for it, is the exact same thing a bro or group of bros would do to make fun of…the same in a type of girl. It’s stereotypical. It’s also bullying, in some instances. Creating a forum to shift the dynamics of power to give you the last word and situational control. But throwing gasoline on a fire will get you somewhere, I guess.”
Bethany suddenly spoke up, grabbing her purse: “I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Ho, will you come with for a sec?”
“What for?” She almost yanked me out of my seat.
She read me the riot act on the way to the bathroom. I asked her if she wanted to come into the Men’s room and vicariously enrage all the guys in there by continuing to tell me all the things I was doing wrong with my life. Instead she huffed away into the Ladies’.
When I came out, Sigglin was off in the corner shooting pool with some drunken, middle-aged barflies, turning up the over-compensatory, ‘just one of the guys’ vibe all the way to eleven. Until it likely drowned out the guilt she was now going to feel over showing her over one hundred thousand followers across various social media platforms that she was—despite anything she posted to the contrary and who she aligned herself with by way of sponsorship—actually just one of the bros.
But not the cool kind of bro.
(*whispering*) Because they never are.