Who will break the news to a new generation of adults?
If you ask someone in the United States of America where they get their news, more often than not they'll answer by giving you the name of a social network. Recently, Pew Research published a report that found that more than half of American adults get their news via social media. As media companies scramble to live up to this new reality, they are turning to the first generation to grow up on the internet. They find people like Darcie Wilder, clever and savvy twenty-somethings who somehow manage to render this new digital environment through evocative and lucid inner-monologue. Who are, almost by chance, discovered, celebrated, and elevated by their peers.
When I first met Darcie Wilder, I was on the roof of my apartment and received a Twitter notification on my phone. It was a mention from Darcie, who had just sent me a selfie from my living room below. I’ve been watching closely ever since. Darcie grew up in NYC, and had a turbulent childhood coping with family in recovery, bullying, and anxiety. I know about this because she’s been tweeting about it for years. Her writing, published mostly on social media, offers an open tour of adult life in a world wracked with anxieties of its own, which despite her personal acuity, somehow illuminates broadly-relatable means of coping, healing, and moving forward.
If you haven’t been hooked by one of her tweets, perhaps you’ve seen her book of Craigslist fan fiction Flagged and Removed or Vice employee parody account. Darcie now produces creative writing on current events for MTVNews’ Twitter and Instagram. Recently, I sat down with her to find out more about her work, her story, and how she manages to make us laugh about how troublingly familiar anxiety in the digital age can be.
I just want to say I think you’re really, really funny. So, first question: do you consider yourself a comedian?
When I was a kid, I just watched stand-up. I feel like I’ve always liked it, so that’s been an influence. Also, a coping thing. Also, I feel like most people on Twitter are trying to be funny. Most of the things I like to do are humor-related, I just get anxiety about the label of ‘comedian’. There’s so much baggage with that. Like, being a girl sucks for comedy. I guess comedy sucks for everyone. I don’t know, I don't like the label of it for me. But people like tweets that are funny, and I like being funny. It’s so hard to keep someone’s attention when you're not being funny. Also, I've subtweeted Upright Citizens Brigade comedians before.
There is a format to Twitter. Being funny can be hard. Like, there are some accounts that tweet about depression and being sad that can also be hard to have in your feed. I was thinking about this earlier, looking at this account that I muted: if you’re living in your feed, you can’t have certain things in it. There should be a place for things that aren’t funny, not everything has to be funny. Like, that sucks if everything has to be funny.
Maybe I have that problem ... Where I have to make everything a joke. I don’t do it all the time. People will think certain things are a joke if you use a specific tone of voice, but it’s not necessarily a joke.
Some people make their problems your problems. It’s hard to watch. There are different sections of Twitter based around that dynamic. Someone I know said, “there’s Sad Twitter, there’s Art Twitter, Sad Girl Twitter, there’s Hoe Twitter, there’s Art Hoe Twitter...” I feel like it sucks to be reduced to one of those sections. I guess that’s just a branding thing.
I totally agree. Once you’re inside of a social network like Twitter, you have all of that horizontal pressure – people getting into smaller and smaller niché bubble things – as well as vertical pressure where Twitter is one big realm, and Facebook is another, and Instagram, and reddit, and Vine and so on and so forth —
Yeah. The way I use Twitter keeps changing. I used to stay further away from the social side of it and viewed Twitter writing more seriously, but now I feel like I’ve reached a balance. I definitely see it as a medium for writing, there are some important tweets but there are also a lot of important tweets, and even more unimportant tweets.
Once, my friend was like, “I wish Twitter didn’t have the reply function.” I was like, “damn, you’re so right" and tried to keep the my number of replies down, feeling it was more ‘pure,‘ or whatever. Now that seems kind of snobbish on my part, and Twitter is one of the primary ways I meet people, so the social component is really important.