It’s entirely very stupid, but it’s a real issue in my life, and I am overdue in holding myself accountable for it: my relationship with Britney Spears’ Instagram account.
So many things have been written about Britney Spears’ Instagram account. So many things.
This does not fit comfortably with most of them, but in this time of Hive Zuckerberg/Musk Brain and the edict to not conform using the exact appropriate non-conformist language, upon risk of cancellation by one’s algorithmically curated peers, I do not dare suggest I have original thoughts.
This is an essay about my addiction to Britney Spears’ Instagram account and what it means about me.
I repeat, for emphasis: This is not an essay about Britney the woman. Almost all of the essays about Britney the woman are not about Britney the woman. They are expressions of tribalism and one’s postured beliefs about a diverse slate of topics including gender, aging, madness, sexuality, celebrity cat fights, tiny furniture, ASMR, body image, working out, photo filters, nudes, controlling parents, fertility, oversharing, marriage, older women and younger men, roses, fan fiction, celebrity, captivity, wealth, the ’90s, and disability, to name a few, projected onto Britney.
My take on Britney is largely irrelevant, as is yours. Because I think you will stop reading if I don’t conform to the standard Britney essay format, I will state my genuine thrill she is no longer in the captivity of her father’s conservatorship. I will disclose my desire for her to express herself as she pleases, pursue the hobbies that give her joy, experience comfort and thrill in her body, and live her best life, whatever that means for her. You can now understand where I sit in the matrix of Britney Spears consumers online and move along to the real issue.
My relationship with Britney Spears’ Instagram is intensely problematic. I check it often, and recheck it, reviewing previous posts in light of new posts. I read the comments at a deep level, engaging with the tossed barbs and expressions of encouragement from no-name total strangers, clicking further to review the responses to the comments and assess the number of likes. I scroll through the thing itself as well as the think pieces and gossip columns about Britney Spears’ Instagram account at night in bed, my eyes straining to accommodate blue light that interferes with my ability to sleep correctly. (Based upon my reading as well as the language directly in Britney Spears’ posts, I fear she is also reading heaping quantities of this gunk — and on a human level, I don’t want her to be exposed to those assholes. But she is an adult making her own choices and I respect that.)
I am no longer able to count the number of times I have engaged in an extended form of show-and-tell with my husband about what is happening on Britney Spears’ Instagram account, reading lines from articles about her Instagram account, and showing him videos or photographs from Britney Spears’ Instagram account or other celebrities responding (or not responding) to Britney Spears’ Instagram account. My husband holds these conversations with me but I have to believe he holds resentment or, at minimum, concern. He used to grumble that I wouldn’t watch enough shows, that he wanted to share them with me. He has since given up, coming to bed with an iPad and headphones on, anticipating my retreat into my phone. There is undoubtedly additional sex I might have had without Britney Spears’ Instagram account, and possibly children.
But this absence can happen during the day, too. I get worked up about things online and fall into my phone, my body floating in a room, unable to participate meaningfully in conversation. As when I was a child and could play Tetris in my head without looking at the game itself, I know a good number of Britney Spears’ shirts, shorts, and sports bras from various posts by heart. I think I could assemble outfits for her without looking at her closet or a screen. To say nothing of how I know her dancing! I could choreograph the backup dancers for her next tour based on the copious examples she has provided of her moves and style. I think I could go to the bathroom mirror and give myself her eye makeup and hair immediately, even though I have little skill with eye makeup and hair. I find myself going to these imprints of Britney in my brain most at night when I cannot turn off my life stressors, and at points during the day when I can least afford to Go Britney, because there are already an unrealistic number of things expected to be accomplished by me in the realms of work, home, and my daughter’s education in the next hour. I have learned to retreat from things I don’t like in myself or moments of overwhelm by increasing the profitability of a platform and company I can’t stand. This actually has nothing to do with Britney. God bless you, Britney.
I struggle to type. Since my adoption of the iPhone in 2008, I have endured various repetitive use injuries in my hands. Thumbs have had to be bandaged up. At one point I got a headset and the program “Dragon Dictation” and I went to a physical therapist for several sessions with sonogram and electrotherapy stimulation. Currently my left pointer finger is causing me inexplicable problems. I tell myself this is crap and play all sorts of mental games to cut down telephone use of the Checking Britney Spears Instagram Account Variety, sometimes becoming very successful, and then falling off the wagon. I need an accountability partner. I have tried finding God, exercise, writing, nutrition, reducing alcohol. I continue to do these things and continue to have problems on which I slap the unfair label, Britney Spears Online.
I do not know if Britney wants us to look, or to see. I do not know her projection philosophy. I do not know how much of her profitability as an artist depends on engaging online. I do not know how much of her trauma is a going concern. For all I have memorized with my eyes, I do not know her at all. What I know is that when I see Britney Spears trapped in a screen and I think about her, what I am not seeing is me, trapped in a screen, and all of the things around me I am not thinking about. It is weird as fuck. Way weirder than any of the things y’all are saying about her.