Recently, The New Yorker published a striking, poignant, and somewhat haunting short story called “Cat Person,” written by Kristen Roupenian. It was a good read about the qualms and craziness of kindling a romance, and I’d recommend giving it a look if you have time. Folks online found it gut-wrenchingly relatable, as we’ve all had our share of awkward dates and lousy sex. But it wouldn’t be the internet if people didn’t take things to Crazytown sometimes.
Many online basically said the story solidified their hatred of men, or took it as an opportunity to tell women there’s such a thing as “too many” partners. Everyone can pull a piece of their lives out of this story, because to Roupenian’s credit, she created a relatable world where the characters expressed just how they feel without having to tell the reader why they felt that way.
And there in lies the problem. Or at least a problem.
In my years online, I’ve been told often that I create relatable content. People find my world views and personality to be charming enough that they want to sit back and listen to what I have to say. I know, it surprises me too. And for a long time, I sat in a very negative space, whining and bitching about things I had no control over. It was a lot of fun. But I grew up, and I knew I couldn’t sit in that headspace for the rest of my life.
With great relate-ability comes great responsibility. Though we can find relatable humor in the negative, when all you’re known for is being “that snarky lady with the great insults” or “that guy with the best burns,” it tends to dry up quicker than we like to admit. There’s a lot of relatable anger popping up all around the internet, and maybe rightfully so. But only getting amped up about rage-inducing things can sour a person real quick. We must be able to distinguish problems that exist, and problems we’re actively looking for so we can get our relatable anger fix online.
I’m glad this story hit a nerve with the internet; hitting deep, deep down in the part of all of us terrified of new connections and the possibility of ending up alone. I didn’t see the story as inherently negative, nor do I think Roupenian had an agenda of putting a blight on all men. The piece just showed a pair of people who were still searching for what they wanted, and eventually figured out they couldn’t find it within one another. At least that’s what I found relatable.
I guess it’s true that we see what we want to see. The hope is the good things just float to the surface more often.