It’s not like I was the first person to ever go from obscure to internet “main character” in the space of a few hours, and I was also far from the last. But my brief period under an otherworldly dogpile in December 2020 was unusual in one respect: It was not an open-and-shut case.
The morning after I went viral for outing myself in a magazine as Martin Shkreli’s prison girlfriend, I was surprised to discover that I was still holding on to real estate in the news cycle. Rather than quickly forgetting about me – as I expected it to do – the hive mind was still struggling to digest me and decide what I was all about.
Part of that was my doing. I didn’t slink away from the computer in humiliation when every loudmouth on Twitter started mocking me. Instead, I talked back to the critics, corrected misinformation, and tried to assert my humanity as calmly and rationally as I could. The Very Online Media Elites were utterly dumbfounded.
One well-known tech journalist, after hearing me patiently answer questions from participants in an online chat forum that had spontaneously formed to shit-talk about me, later wrote that it was “as if one of the suspects in a mystery novel popped out of the book, asked for a cup of tea, and allowed you to interrogate her.” Speaking up for myself, like a real person might, apparently disrupted the natural flow of the narrative.