We Found It! The Stupidest (Non-Nazi) Website On The Internet!
It's hard to pinpoint, exactly, when the era of "overshare" really ended on the internet -- but some might say it was in September of 2015, when XoJAne published an essay titled "IT HAPPENED TO ME: My Gynecologist Found a Ball of Cat Hair in My Vagina." As weird as that story was, it wasn't actually as weird as anything else that was on the internet (and frankly, I thought it was hilarious), but there was unquestionably something about it that made the internet, at large, finally say "That is it, we have had enough."
XOJane shut down a year later. These days it can be hard to find a home for personal essays of the sort that once abounded on the internet. Also gone are the personal blogspot dot coms, the LiveJournals, the MySpace blogs, along with all the would-be-Carrie-Bradshaws writing about their love lives. Mommy blogs, I am told, are still a thing. But I think mostly for Mormons. Thought Catalog, in case you were wondering, is still around -- but it seems like everyone stopped reading it after they published a super transphobic article by Gavin McInnes and we all got mad about how they didn't really pay their writers.
But now a new(ish?) site has emerged to (maybe) take fill the void. It is called The Odyssey, and it is the worst.
On Thursday, an article from the site, titled "You May Have Worn The Prom Dress With Him, But I Get To Wear The Wedding Dress" went viral, for all the wrong reasons. It was a terrible, terrible essay. It was so bad that we are not even going to link to it or tell you the author's name. Because we are NICE!
It was a cringe-inducing open letter from a college-age girl to her fiancé's high school girlfriend, whom she is apparently extremely jealous of.
Here is but a taste of the horror.
You thought that you would marry your boyfriend and you thought that everything would work out how you had always imagined. I don't blame you though. He's great. You wanted everything with him, but you were just not right for him.
I wish I could say that I am sorry it didn't work out for you, but I can't. I can't because he is mine now, and I get to cherish him forever. You didn't do that right, and you were not meant to be together. You will find someone too, but I am happy that you were not the one for him.
Sometimes I have issues with jealousy, and I hate that you got all of the high school stuff with him. You got to go to games and support him. It kills me that I couldn't be there for him because I know I would have actually been there wholeheartedly. I would have done it out of love, not as a popularity appearance.
It is impossible to read the entire article without repeatedly screaming "OH MY GOD, WHO WOULD WRITE THIS? DOES SHE NOT HAVE FRIENDS?" into your hand. The same could be said for any of the author's other articles, the majority of which are also about her future husband and how grateful she is that none of his past girlfriends were good enough for him.
Naturally, she also wrote an article about how she is not a feminist, because it's unfair to tell men they should "let" us do stuff!
I love being a woman and I embrace it, but I will never say that I deserve to be treated better than men. I will never make the claim that men need to let us do the same exact things, because I simply don't agree. It's truly okay to have different opinion, and maybe one day society will realize this and stop scrutinizing those who disagree.
And she wrote an article about how Millennials are like, so entitled and think everyone has to protect their feelings, followed up by how it is unfair of "them" to attack her for being a Republican. Which, one would imagine, would qualify as not protecting her feelings.
This generation seems to believe that everything is about them. We should have things given to us and everyone should have to protect our feelings. If something doesn't happen the way we want it, we can throw fits and call it protests so we can't get arrested. Things need to change.
I'm tired of being attacked on social media for being a Republican and not protesting.
Another article on the site, not by this girl, is literally titled "11 Ways My Boyfriend Proves That 'Decent Guys' Still Exist" and includes 11 pictures of this girl's boyfriend doing things like "drinking coffee, even though he didn't used to drink coffee!" and "ice skating!" and "grocery shopping!" and "eating a hamburger!"
There is also a picture of the girl's left hand with a diamond ring on it, along with the caption:
Gifts don't have to be material items. They can be as easy as a handwritten love note. It's the thought behind it that really makes each gift special.
They don't have to be material things, but it is totally OK if they are DIAMONDS.
So, basically it's Thought Catalog, but if Thought Catalog were run by The Patriarchy and written nearly entirely by the kind of sorority girls I honestly thought only existed in movies and TV, and they have all got the Wedding Bell Blues. Those that are not writing about how swell their boyfriends/future husbands are? Well, they write articles about how it's "OK" to be single at 19. Which... WHO ON EARTH THOUGHT IT WASN'T? I mean, it's "OK" to be single at any age, but certainly 19. It's like the website that time forgot. It's "A Hymn to Him," the website.
And, well, then there's this.
Which, frankly, is actually quite impressive. I honestly don't think I could name 75 things anyone said on any show, ever. Including The Golden Girls.
Admittedly, we spent hours Thursday in the Wonkette chat cave laughing maniacally at all of the very bad articles on this site, but at least we had the decency to feel a little badly about it afterwards. Mainly because this site feels so obviously predatory.
I used to edit personal essays on the regular at my previous job. Part of doing that involved saying no. It involved making sure writers didn't come across as foolish and ensuring that they, and we as a site, were 100% behind what we were publishing together. I would have said no to these. And basically any other "article" on that site.
I also, unlike the editors of the Washington Post, would have said no to last week's hate-read-of-the-week, the creepily anti-Semitic essay "I am tired of being a Jewish man's rebellion."
But at least if you write cringe-inducing personal essays for the Washington Post, you get an editor and you get paid?
Now, sure! You can say that writing in a personal blog or a LiveJournal didn't pay, that no one was editing anyone there either. That's true! However, this site has advertisers.
It's one thing for writers to write things that may embarrass them later for free on their own sites -- sites that they could hypothetically monetize themselves. It's a very different thing for a company, run by adults, to profit off of the free writing of college girls, give them no guidance, and not even edit their work, while presenting it in a way that makes it appear as though it is any other normal site that pays writers and edits their work. There's something that just feels wrong about that.
I won't tell people to never write for free. I wrote for free for years and it is unlikely that I would be writing for money now if I never did that. I didn't write for free, however, for other people. If someone is profiting off of your work, they should pay you. Even if you are writing terrible essays about how you are totally jealous/not jealous of the girl your fiancé went to prom with.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse