The Editorial: Shit We Say

The Editorial: Shit We Say

The Shit Girls Say meme was a mini revelation: an a-ha treasure trove of hilarity. Zing! American girls, look at how hilarious and absurd you are! Except that, as clever things on the internet tend to do, it grew to become just a theme on which countless variations (hyperbole: it’s just more than 700, apparently) would be made. Before long it had become “Shit (insert-group-here)-ers/-ites/-[etc.] Say” and everyone had been parodied–girls, guys, gangsters, gringos, gays, geriatrics, gorillas, giraffes, Greeks, Germans, Georgians – and if you know someone who kinda fit into any of the boxes, you were on the floor in stitches.

It was almost as if we were holding up mirrors to our friends’ faces. Except, what we were (and remain) oblivious to is that mirrors were being held up to our own imperfect faces. To illustrate, the star of the “Shit…” video parodying the citizenry of my very culturally unique home state in the USA has become a local folk hero of sorts, and has gone on to be featured in television commercials and print adverts. Her portrayal of the accent, linguistic quirks and localisms was spot on and we loved her for it. But few realised that it was in fact themselves, ourselves!our accent, our quirks – who made any “Shit…” video hilarious. I don’t talk like that! I don’t sound that moronic!

So, great. We’re all both predictable and ridiculous. But since we hear an awful lot about social media’s fragmentation of society, it seems counterintuitive that such a hyperindividualistic (I probably just made that word up) society could be painted in 700 or so odd brush strokes. The videos merely seize upon some broad particularities of broad groups, yet that so many of them ring so true is more than a small reason for us to take a long hard look at ourselves.

A growing number of sociologists who contend that since social networks encourage grouping with like-minded individuals, we are inadvertently sequestering ourselves into neater and more well-defined (and perhaps confining) boxes than ever. You are a teen girl and are therefore predictably ____. Zing! You are a twentysomething who lives in Brooklyn and are therefore predictably ____. Zing! Some even blame recent bursts of extremism, from Al Qaeda to the Tea Party on this dynamic: like minded people with bad ideas in a post-geographic community of critical mass. But shouldn’t it be easier in this day and age to transcend the most basic assumptions about who we are and avoid being reduced to hapless, unthinking stereotypes?

Now, go watch the video that best parodies you. Will you laugh?

With some seriously well-styled images, Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard have turned the online phenom into a nifty little book that launched last week in London. Pick up a copy at KK Outlet in Hoxton Square.

Tag Christof – Images courtesy KK Outlet