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Dating Blogger Amy: “Selfploitation”

Monday night I arrived home to an especially delicious mailbox: Newsweek with Paris and Britney on the cover–"The Girls Gone Wild Effect"–and New York with a cover story about today's youth exposing intimate details of their lives on the internet … Read More

By / February 7, 2007

Monday night I arrived home to an especially delicious mailbox: Newsweek with Paris and Britney on the cover–"The Girls Gone Wild Effect"–and New York with a cover story about today's youth exposing intimate details of their lives on the internet via blogs, sites like MySpace, and viral videos. Those who read these dating blogs understand my connection to these headines: I'm exiting a hard-partying phase and revealing it and its aftermath meticulously in these web pages. Thanks to my worrisome Jewish mother, who wisely resists reading my column, I've questioned, as New York does, my decision to plaster my life on the web. My mother broached the topic in a recent phone chat:

"Have you Googled yourself lately?" she asked.

"No. Why?"

" 'Cuz all those dating blogs come up."

"So."

"I don't understand why you can't write it under a different name."

"Well, I tried and that wasn't really part of the deal. It's supposed to be personal, you know?"

"It can still be personal under a different name. You really should change it." Her voice turned whiny.

"Well, at this point it wouldn't matter anyway since my name is all over the ones I’ve already published, and even if I used a different name everyone would still know it’s me," I said, frustrated. My mom and I hadn't discussed her qualms with my dating blogs in the near recent past but every time we do it's the same shit.

"I don't know, Amy. I think you should talk to them about changing it. That's all I'm saying. I mean, what if ten years down the line all that stuff comes up and you don't want people to be able to see it anymore?" She raised a valid point. What if I arrive at 35, apply for a job somewhere and don't get it because of the sordid stories I've posted on Jewcy? What if I arrive at 35 and wish I had kept my past secret for the simple sake of privacy?

These thoughts washed through my mind as I prepared to devour the contents of my mailbox. I peeled back the Paris/Britney cover first. The story focused on the infatuation with celeb partiers among girls as young as seven, turning them into "prostitots" who use words like sexy, and the devaluation of sex for young women. I don't think the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are good role models. Why would anyone want to be like them? I can't think of one redeemable quality of any member of that bunch.

Yet all publications tackling the party girl phenom through a feminist lens acknowledge their behavior has a flavor of empowerment, which is exactly the sentiment I felt underlay my hard partying. I had always partied in college, but it got really intense when I broke up with Evil A, an act of empowerment in itself. The partying was a declaration of my new independence and a rejection of the idea that I couldn't stand alone as a single gal because I would be too lonely/sad without a boyfriend.

With Evil A "to the left, to the left," I immediately discovered how much fun singlehood is, and started riding the single girl empowerment wave. I can tell Britney Spears is riding high now too: The girl just wants to have some fun after however many years with leech boyfriend K-Fed, who plain fucking sucks in every way possible, not to mention never really owning her life anyway.

However, she’s hitting quite a few sandbars–nude crotch shots, missing clothing, and vomiting on her new boyfriend, among others. This is not empowerment—it's involuntary selfploitation, and it's incredibly distasteful.

As I transition away from my party days I’m dealing with the aftermath of my breakup increasingly healthily. I've cut back drinking and drugging drastically since recognizing, with the help of an amazing therapist, that these are awful mood depressants that make you high for a few hours and low for days. I've started dealing with the aftermath in other ways, like writing these posts.

When the opportunity to write this column presented itself, I jumped on it because I knew it, like partying, would be fun, liberating, entertaining. I didn’t think of how revealing it would be until Jewcy beta-launched, my first post went up, and I felt nauseous when I pulled up the page: My personal life was no longer personal.

This week’s New York asks what kind of impact all the personal information young people broadcast about themselves online will have, both in the present and in the future and if it will create mass regret in 15 years. Most MySpacers interviewed for the story think not, but I still have doubts.

Satiated by this week's contents from my mailbox, I felt the decision to air my dirty laundry to the world became more urgent. The more I thought about it the more I questioned it, and the more I believed I would regret it in the future.

And then a co-worker drew my attention to last week’s post: A young woman had commented anonymously about her own abusive relationship and how glad she was to know she was not alone:

after reading your story about your ex, i feel a whole lot better knowing that really awesome, beautiful, smart girls can get stuck in abusive relationships – because their "other" makes you feel like shit and worthless. doesnt make any sense, does it? AND im still dealing with the aftermath of it all. what the hell.

thanks for telling it like it is.

My mother's voice and my own self-doubt stopped playing on loop in my head. I teared up knowing that I successfully channeled my most painful experiences into helping and comforting others.

Ms. Anonymous reminded me that I chose to post the details of my abusive relationship with the hope that I might have at least some impact on other women suffering through them as well. I want readers to understand above all that nobody should waste time in a relationship in which her partner treats her badly in any way, and nobody deserves verbal, mental, or physical abuse. And that dating in New York is crazy, fucked up, and hysterical.

She encouraged me to continue to empower and feel empowered. That's the difference in tasteful selfploitation.

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