Me And Britney Spears’ Instagram Account

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.

I Am Blogging On The Possible Death Of Twitter Feminism, 2007-Style

Elon Musk has bought Twitter and will make it a private company. This man makes fantastic cars but is one of the last people in the world who should be regulating speech on social media.

This is an era when hate speech online is rampant against people of color, LGBTQ folks, women, and intersections of the three. Musk is a bully.

Incitement to violence and false information came perilously close to bringing down our democracy on January 6, 2021. Musk wants ‘all the speech’ out there.

Putting Musk in charge of Twitter is like putting a fire-breathing dragon in charge of maintaining cabins built out of match sticks. Do you really feel okay sending your children to that camp?

Many of my friends and valued colleagues have already deleted their accounts. As a burgeoning old who is no longer the twenty-something advertising copywriter who started @erintothemax in 2008 (LOL that I never changed my handle when my volunteer activist life took over my professional life, srsly!), I am moving a bit slower.

I have requested a download of my Tweets, and have taken the app off my phone to give myself mindful time to consider my next steps. It’s pretty likely I will start blogging here more again; I’m here tonight instead of Twitter, aren’t I?

Twitter has given me so much good. For my career and causes I care about, it has given me a platform to meet other activists and collectively amplify our power, connect with journalists and better inform the media conversation on feminism and beyond, speak truth to power, and learn, learn, learn. Twitter has offered an immediacy and intimacy that is both its charm and its danger. More than 15,000 people care what I have to say, which is quite funny if you think about it.

Through a number of social media platforms including Twitter I have been subjected to a good bit of abuse and harassment over the years. Most of it is garden variety stupid but on some occasions it has presented a serious invasion of privacy, threat to my safety and security or that of my family, or caused significant emotional harm. Sometimes it has happened in the name of ‘pro-life.’ Other times it has occurred in the name of ‘social justice.’ Sometimes it is people who have been physically or otherwise violent toward me who come back years later to let me know they are still stalking me and wishing me harm. There is untold bullying and abuse directed toward women and feminists online, and this stuff is particularly pointed toward people with marginalized identities I do not hold: trans and gender non-conforming people, Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, people with disabilities, and fat women.

I do not trust Elon Musk to mitigate the infringements on the ability of people of good faith to use their voices in the public square. I believe he will make it worse. Just two days ago Musk posted a fat-shaming photo of Bill Gates on Twitter contrasting him with an emoji of a pregnant man in case anyone needed to “lose a boner fast.” Can Feminist Twitter continue to be a thing in this new reality?

I need to close this post talking about my friend Mazzie, who recently passed away. Mazzie in many ways exemplified the best of Twitter: I met her online, she was a razor-sharp feminist, funny as hell, encouraging me and everyone who followed to think deeper, be more caring, and advance social justice in inclusive ways. We interacted on the platform for I don’t know how long until once, in 2013, a man exposed himself to me and the District of Columbia police refused to take my report.

I tweeted about this and Mazzie stepped up, posting on neighborhood police listservs until I got a call a few days later from the police, inviting me to come into the station and file a report. She did this for someone she never met in real life. I’ve made some of my best friends on Twitter, some I meet and have had all these significant moments in the flesh with, and others like Mazzie, who was deeply real to me, whose last words to me on Facebook just weeks before she became suddenly ill and died were “I’m so glad we have each other <3.”

Yesterday, the day before Elon Musk bought Twitter, my friend Amanda Levitt organized a Zoom memorial for Mazzie. More than 50 people attended. On this screen I cried openly with others, some who I had met in-person and others I had only followed or known online for years. I made new friends and strengthened existing online relationships yesterday. We all agreed that Mazzie would want us to spend more time with one another in new and unexpected ways.

Tonight I’m going to think about Mazzie, not Elon Musk, as I weigh my next steps. I don’t want to think about the evil and the violence on the platform and what I anticipate could happen next. I want to capture the good and love and think about how to continue that moving forward.

Rest in peace, Kimberley Anne Schults. You were the beautiful soul who would have said exactly the right thing about the craptastic Elon Musk Twitter takeover. In your absence I’ll take a beat.

Every Time You Ask If I’m Pregnant, I Post A Selfie On Instagram

I get asked if I’m pregnant on the regular. At first this shit made me cry. But it’s happened so much that I’ve had to get used to it.

Sometimes I still cry.

My stomach sticks out. It has stuck out for years. I am not pregnant. I gave birth to a creative, healthy, playful girl five years ago. Today I have a tight stitch where a C-section once happened, and there’s a pouf above it that reflects my love of wine, cheese, and life.

Your reassurances that I am not fat do not help.

I have noticed that friends feel compelled to insist I’m not fat. Just because you say that I don’t look pregnant does not mean I don’t get asked this question, on average, a few times a month. Just because you say I’m so skinny doesn’t mean I won’t get asked about the baby I’m not expecting sometime real soon.

I have created a new rule:

Every time I’m asked about my pregnancy, I post a selfie to Instagram.

I love it.

It puts me back in the driver’s seat of my life.

No matter what I’m wearing, how I’m made up, or what I’m doing, I take a picture of myself and share it with people who know me, mostly in real life. I admit forthrightly what just happened. And then I move on.

When I do this, I no longer remain the person whose body is being reviewed and assessed by others. I become the person who has this body right now, and is living her life anyway.

If you get asked if you’re pregnant a lot, my recommendation is to find something to do immediately that feels good to you. Then keep doing it. Having something to draw upon that does not require thought can be helpful when hurt slaps you in the face, as it did in the comfort of my own home (indeed, no place is sacred) twelve days ago.

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In Praise Of A Vacation Without Facebook

Recently, I took a vacation. I did not check Facebook, Twitter, or email.

It was glorious.

I am a heavy social media user, and much of the time I spend on social media is related to my social justice work and actually just work — learning, connecting, organizing, proselytizing, and speaking truth to power. Taking a break from being expected to consume, react, and be responsive to whomever jumps into my purse is transformative.

Over the course of one week I read three books. I paid attention to my companions and my surroundings. I did crossword puzzles every day. I read local newspapers. I had leisurely conversations about the material I had read hours or days before. I ran; I sat.

It’s difficult to just be when notifications are constantly popping up, demanding our attention, and projecting powerful light into our eyes. So, while I’m glad to be back to my ordinary routine, I am also recognizing that my vacation was not an exclusive function of a salty-smelling ocean and cracking up with my husband as we watched our daughter try to finish the eighth hole in her first round of miniature golf (“Let’s have a child,” I whispered as she threw the putter around like a machete and moved her lower half in pantomime of an ’80s exercise class gone wrong; “she will be athletic, graceful, and so perfect”).

It is a vacation in itself to leave my phone on the table for days at a time. In so doing, I give myself the gifts of calm, time, and presence.


An Open Letter To Friends I’ve Unfollowed On Social Media Over Dieting Posts

Dear Friends Who Diet And Share It On Social Media,

I love you. I do not judge you and your decisions. But I do not want to know about your diet on social media. I react to posts about dieting on social media by having negative feelings about myself. With love and compassion for myself, I refuse to judge myself for the ways my brain devises to hurt me.

I may have quietly unfollowed some of your accounts or muted some of your posts even though I genuinely like you as a person. What is part of your life — perhaps your healthy life — is unhealthy for me.

I understand you may not even see yourself as dieting. There are hashtags, words, and numbers out there suggesting “clean eating” or cleanses or being healthy or whatever. This, too, is dangerous stuff for me. With love and compassion for everyone, I refuse to judge myself for having a reaction to trendy ways of eating that are usually about restricting food groups and losing weight.

When I developed anorexia and nearly killed myself in the process, it was an accident. I truly thought I was being healthy and getting in shape when I started. For some of us, these behaviors become obsessions, and even years after they have passed, to see even a wisp of them in other people — in whatever degree — is not healthy.

In the event you ever noticed my absence, I hope you will understand I am not rejecting you. I am giving myself permission to be me — the me who takes up space in my own body and brain. I’ve been healthy for a long time, and when I see your dieting posts I have reactions that are a threat to my commitment to my health.

Take care,

Wired Claims Exposing Sexism Is Just Like Being Exposed As Racist

Uh-oh, looks like the editorial team at Wired got their garbage and their clean towels confused!

In a new piece, Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media, writer Laura Hudson claims that getting flak for sharing racist bullshit on Twitter is just like reporting a climate of sexual intimidation at a tech conference, and requesting some help, and then getting fired from your job because you, unlike the white guys you exposed, are a woman of color and therefore just as guilty.

Say what?

As a publication that holds itself out as an arbiter of tech, it is disturbing that the Wired editorial team can’t leave crappy enough alone. It has been more than four months since Adria Richards was fired for making it clear that forking and dongle jokes don’t belong at tech conferences. That she is a woman of color exposing routine sexism, and by the way paying a pretty big price for it, makes it even more outrageous that she is being put on the same plane as people who are racists.

Just like exposing sexism and being a racist are totally separate things, so are embarrassment as a tool for social change versus shaming. As I have written before, these are totally separate tactics. People should be embarrassed when they are caught being an oppressive bigot. It helps to dispel future oppressive bigotry. Shaming, on the other hand, is attacking the core of who someone is. No one, at their core, is a bigot. Bigotry is learned social behavior. Very bad learned social behavior that relies, among other things, upon false claims in service of the status quo.