It’s a good news/bad news day for fans of ick. Not only can we apparently not jail people for sounding like they are probably sort of planning on maybe killing and eating some other people, but Robin Thicke is still doing things and apparently we can’t stop him.
The good news is that in both cases justice is being served.
“Ick” is a very strong brain response that can override rationality. Rationally, a live, calm non-venomous spider in your room is the least gross or threatening of all possible unexpected wildlife in your room. But when ick takes over your brain, you need to KILL THE SPIDER KILL IT, which actually means getting closer to the spider, watching the spider intently and terrifying the spider so that it lurches in a random direction and finally results in a dead spider you now have to take charge of as well as smooshed spider guts on your things.
So when most of humanity all feels ick about the same odious thing — aspiring (?) cannibals, say — the temptation to GET RID OF IT NOW feels almost right, as though it’s the one issue almost all humans are going to be on the same side of. It feels just wrong to know about this guy writing his menus, and waiting to see if maybe he actually does procure the ingredients for steak Diane. So, in short, eventually a calmer head prevailed and the conviction of a man whose only sin was being absolutely disgusting in his own head, has been overturned. We may not feel great about this event, but we kinda know it was right.
Likewise, noted expert in whether-or-not-you-want-it Robin Thicke, who has generously shared with all of us his attempts to get back with his ex, just gets to do that, and apparently living in a free society means not getting to squash him with our shoes. So instead, Twitter did its thing. Thicke has an album to promote, which resulted in the PR hashtag #askThicke. And boy, have people been asking him things that are not very polite or respectful of Thicke.
It’s a neat lil’ social media trick, this co-opting of hashtags. Isn’t it? It makes us feel as though we’re not helplessly trapped with our ick. But while Thicke is probably not going to feel ashamed about, or even see, most of the hashtag anger he inspires, there’s a group we know that does follow its hashtags, thanks to a minor scandal involving a Travel Channel host. He (unwittingly) used the hashtag #thinspiration, which, it turns out, is something that has been commandeered in the service of something Very Bad. The fact that the host responded with atrociously bad manners did not make the controversy go away.
Check out #thinspiration. It is a hashtag largely (though not entirely) used by people promoting anorexia, by opining that starved bodies look beautiful and by celebrating the wondrous, icky achievement of thigh gaps in persons with dreadfully emaciated legs. The “inspiration” is stuff like “I will not eat I will not eat I will not eat.” As icky as it is — eating disorders are a modern scourge, and promoting body loathing is a terrible idea — we can’t shut #thinspiration down. But neither are we helpless. We can co-opt the hashtag for something awesome such as puppies in a big heap.
That’s my proposal. Start appending #thinspiration to things involving puppies and kittens, until searching on it produces mostly wonderfulness. Here, like this adorable, heartwarming piece about the rescue of a puppy from a mineshaft #thinspiration.