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GONNA GROW UP TO BE A DEBASER (DEBASER)

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I had a blog before I had a laptop, a cell phone, or a Facebook account. I grew up playing Q*bert and executing DOS commands. I memorized my best friends' phone numbers. We got the internet at home when I was in high school, but it wasn't used very widely yet (as in: I remember really wishing that Delia*s would get a website). 

I treated my blog, Fruit of the Sea, like an outpost of my zine, and because only 50 or so people read my zine (Patron Saint of Small Things RIP), I didn't really worry about what I shared on it. It was silly and blithe, and I wrote about the goings-on of the CMU Department of English, where I was a work study student. I wrote about my boyfriend, using his first name, as if you knew him, too. I developed this house style of titling posts with song lyrics (Pixies, hello!) and my own mock holidays and running jokes. I pretended that, whoever you were, you cared about my wins and my swimming hole opinions. It was scrappy and unstudied, and I haven't found a way to write like that in a long time. 

I don't know what happened, but I have my suspicions. For one: Facebook makes it possible to measure the degree to which other people like or agree with something you jot down, and maybe other people don't do this, but I pivoted my statements for maximum favorability. Slowly and over years, it became a game of writing shadowless little nuggets, and my shadowless little nuggets were mainly my iterations of various popular political poses. Here's My Standing Rock Post. Here's My Trenchant Critique of Mental Health Availability. Here's my IndieGoGo Share Post Where You Can See I Already Got Myself on the Right Side of This Social Justice Issue With the Use of My PayPal Account. I'm not kidding when I say I bottomed out with social media. I quit for my sanity. But I also miss the low-stakes occasional writing I used to save for a venue like this. I used to write book reviews, album reviews, shade a moment I liked in retrospect by observing it--all things I was eventually too terrified to do in case I might look stupid or say something wrong. It's hard to break back out of, even though I want to and I give myself a lot of shit for hemming myself in.

Even right now, I'm trying to bargain with myself. Maybe I should leave this first post for tomorrow morning, when I can give it a clear read-over and make it, well, a little more shadowless, I guess. Although what that really means, in fact, is deleting it, telling myself I didn't really want to say whatever I had said, and getting a little bit more hollow.

So fuck being hollow, and fuck shadowless prose, and fuck getting things right, and fuck being good. 

Sarah Smith