Maybe you heard but there's a big story out about our generation's compulsive confessionalism written by my ex-colleague, former Gawker editor Emily Gould. Emily is also my friend, though there were times during the Year Of Magical Linking (cf. Xian) I wished she could just get a lobotomy. She was pretty and clever and adored and in the throes of an infatuation with a terribly self-centered young dude she spent wayyyyy too much time IM-ing everyone about. Whatever, she's back. And she's written something that should resonate with anyone who has ever dealt with his or her self-absorption by airing it all online, becoming a character in the lives of strangers, and pondering the morality of the need for an audience and whether morality is stupid when human existence is just one epic display of aggregated service to self. Yeah, I have a few miscellaneous, hangover-affected thoughts!
1. The other day I thought I had genital warts. I have long felt I was more than long due to contract some sort of venereal disease, so I greeted the thought with rational calm until, at some point over the weekend, I began to imagine that the warts actually hurt, and that if I ignored the pain too long I could potentially die from them. That feeling — actually a hangover — soon passed and then on Monday I received an Gchat message from an old friend saying "I have genital warts" — or more accurately, "Answer your phone or I'm going to have to send you a crap email" — and we hadn't fucked in six months. I immediately thought, what a fun post, "The Guy That Gave You That Particular Strain Of HPV Is Actually The Guy You Fucked Half A Year Ago" …and felt glad. And then the bump went away. I think it was an ingrown hair. [Told you! -Ed.] All of which is an overshare-y way of saying: There is clearly something cathartic, something beyond exhibitionism, to this oversharing stuff; do you not see it? All of us occasionally fixate on our own mortality. I am not a neurotic person, perhaps because these days, I am quick to convert those dark feelings — and seriously, what do we have to be so fucking dark about? — into text. Whatever the fear or fate — herpes, date rape, bankruptcy, failure — there's something worth laughing about there.
2. In her piece, Emily totally skipped the part where she was going to become a yoga teacher because she wanted to "help people." She told me this one evening over pinot grigio and scallops, and I thought, "what a complete crock of shit." But I think yoga is a good thing and that Emily does want to help people; I would simply rather she tell me jokes than lead me in meditation. So thanks Emily: "Project Gayway" is my new favorite show, and the line "Josh and I sat together on the couch, and I put my head on his shoulder in a completely friendly, professional way" made me LOL.
3. When the time came for Emily to collect the books and bras and other miscellaneous possessions she'd left at Josh's house she actually referred to them as "Emilyana." Emily's self-absorption is a joke that, although it got less funny, is now funny once again. It is the human condition to be self-absorbed. But it is not the human condition to lack empathy, as narcissists supposedly do. (Inasmuch a emotions are real, empathy is real, and serves to temper our selfishness and make life worth living.) If I'd written such a story for the Times magazine I would have tried to write it smellier and drunker and more self-lacerating, and because fewer people might relate to it, you could see in that my own form of narcissism, who knows. Like Nietzsche said, there are no facts, only interpretations, and the thing is you don't have to buy into his interpretations of things if you've gotten to the point where you find misanthropy sort of boring.
4. I Used To Have This Theory, About Nick Denton. He left the media and created Gawker so NO ONE COULD EVER AGAIN LEAVE THE MEDIA; they would be too preoccupied with the mundane trivialities and their respective trajectories up the Zeitgeist index and the ceaseless trade of imaginary currency to notice NO ONE IS MAKING MONEY IN THIS FUCKING BUSINESS ANYMORE except Nick Denton. To quoth The Idiot, again:
"Such omniscient gentlemen are to be found pretty often in a certain stratum of society. They know everything. All the restless curiosity
and faculties of their mind are irresistibly bent in one direction, no doubt from lack of more important ideas and interests in life, as the critic of today would explain. But the words, "they know everything," must be taken in a rather limited sense: in what department so-and-so serves, who are his friends, what his income is, where he was governor, who his wife is and what dowry she brought him, who are his first cousins and who are his second cousins, and everything of that sort. For the most part these omniscient gentlemen are out at elbow, and receive a salary of seventeen roubles a month.
Now they get paid by the page view.
The people of whose lives they know every detail would be at a loss to imagine their motives. Yet many of them get positive consolation out of this knowledge, which amounts to a complete science, and derive from it self-respect and their highest spiritual gratification. And indeed it is a fascinating science. I have seen learned men, literary men, poets, politicians, who sought and found in that science their loftiest comfort and their ultimate goal, and have indeed made their career only by means of it.
5. But no, there is more to it than all that. People need people. Even Denton, who can be very kind now that he has found love! Loneliness and alienation are only really fun when you find someone else who's into Kafka too. That's the whole fucking point of the myth of Narcissus. People want company, community, friendship, connectedness, they want to be needed, they want to be loved, and love exists — I like to say love = verisimilitude of love + time - and the problem with the Internet and New York is that there is way too much verisimilitude and never enough time. But I have known Emily, and all you guys, for a year now, and my fondness is real and genuine and not, I hate to break it to you, borne of narcissism.
Blog-Post Confidential [NY Times]