People like to say that we can’t change what happens to us, and that we can only control how we respond to it.
Human beings are animals, and our emotional brains are highly adept at influencing us, while our intellectual reasoning often bends to the will of our emotions. There is no action without emotional response: indeed, even the ability to resist our initial urge is an emotional response to a response.
A person cannot control whether or not they ‘shit blood’ or whether they become a ‘ghost’ in response to trauma.
It’s infuriating that the very people who need to read Lindsay’s words in her Goodbye letter to YouTube are the ones who laugh and loudly proclaim that they won’t waste their time on her. Of course, they will read it privately, but they’ll make an obnoxious show of ignoring it.
Despite disavowing parasocial relationships in general, it’s impossible to read Lindsay’s words and not worry for her safety. We all understand that not truly knowing a famous person doesn’t change the way we feel about them. In some ways, our relationships to figures like Lindsay Ellis feel just as real as those we form with people in our real lives, if for no other reason than interpersonal relationships can feel distant too: most relationships have a parasocial element.
I can’t help but feel that this is at the root of what has happened to Lindsay. Not only was she targeted by people who hold her to the standards of a person with which they are intimately familiar, Lindsay also felt every comment made about her as severely as if a real person had said it to her face.
I think that’s something we haven’t yet fully grasped about internet culture or ‘cancelling.’ A person talks on the internet as if they were talking to themself, because that’s what it feels like to type alone in your room. But the thing said isn’t perceived in that way — it feels personal.
It’s difficult for me not to smash on the keyboard, calling everyone that made Lindsay’s life hell for the past year a bunch of fucking idiots for not understanding this. These people like to say that the cancelling meant nothing because Lindsay could simply turn off her computer and walk away. But they had the same choice when they read that first tweet.