Welcome to the Virtualgoodsdealer interview series where we talk to artists, scholars and internet personalities about their work and experiences. In our fifth episode, we asked writer and memer, Aiden Arata, about her meme-making process versus her writing process, her thoughts on her past experiences with accountability and closure, and about her upcoming writing projects.

This interview is co-hosted by Omnia Elbasheer and Cindie Xin, with editing by ada.wrong. It was recorded on Monday 5/19/21 at 8:00PM EST.

Intro and outro track is by Hubert Obasanya.

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Audio Transcription

<Intro Music>

Omnia: So, thank you, Aiden, for being here. Welcome. We are so excited to talk to you.

And we have a lot of topics today. So I guess let’s just get started. Um, the first thing I want to talk to you about is your writing. I love the way you write, and I kind of want to hear about how you do it. Like do you usually think of a topic? What’s the first thing you do when you sit down? Is there a process? Or do you just let the words move you?

Aiden: Yeah, thank you. That’s so kind. Um, I guess. Usually, it’s something that I mean, I write a lot about sort of the internet and the weirdness of like living in a late capitalist internet, when everything is like kind of being sold to you. But then you can find these weird pockets of I don’t know, like True. True bizarreness, or like looking at stuff in in sort of, I don’t know, everything just feels really fake and crazy. Where you find something and it’s, you just want to send it to someone and be like, What is this? like, what is going on here?

So I think that level of excitement is sort of the thing that if I find something and it makes it, I feel like okay, I compulsively like have to metabolize that, that’s when I’m like, Alright, I should write about this. And then the actual process is days long, and like a slog, and I have to make myself do it, like I writing is my favorite thing in the world. And also, I think maybe because of internet work, is deeply unpleasant now, because like, you can’t, you know, you have to be alone to do it, you have to sort of like sit and parse out your thoughts. And I’m very much like, write emotional, edit rational. So it is sort of as you were saying, just kind of whatever’s moving me in whatever direction I’m going and then coming back and I try my best to cut it up and and make it actually interesting to someone else who’s reading it.

But okay, yeah, yeah. But it’s kind of I think my brain is a little bit damaged by sort of the validation feedback system, or at least like the engagement feedback system of social media. And so it’s hard for me, it’s hard for me to stick with a project and like, basically not have anyone tell me how they feel about it right away.

Omnia: This is the exact thing that paralyzes me when it comes to writing. I just keep re-editing myself, because I don’t know that sounds good. I have no one to tell me what’s good.

Aiden: And even if even if it is good, and you’re really proud of it, you kind of end it off and it feels really separate from you wouldn’t really a good thing, but you don’t have control over. Like how it’s gonna be received or where it’s gonna go like you I mean, not even Do you not have control that you just kind of don’t know about it. Like I always feel like writing. It’s kind of like being like a sperm donor, like you kind of just like jack off and then like, send it into the world and you don’t know if a baby happens, like and at least if you like, make a meme or something, you pretty instantly have like someone else in the world just like witnessing it and yeah, but I mean writing is more long term satisfying and obviously I’m not like I don’t think that means have the space for necessarily as much nuance

Cindie: So in like the process of writing in the metaphor you said about the sperm donor, what would the baby be like what is this end result that like something? Is it like you want someone to take away something or like think about a certain angle?

Aiden: Yeah, I think so. I mean, from a, you know, just a totally, like personal perspective at having like a project in the world like sort of the established way or at a publisher or like it has like a home like it has somewhere to kind of um, and grow. Now I’m like trying to think about baby metaphors like, where does it grow up? What does that mean? But you’re right that like, yeah, I think, ultimately the goal is that someone somewhere is affected or is thinking about something in a different way.

Omnia: Do you outline beforehand?

Aiden: I have, like 6 million phone notes in my phone that are scattered enough like Australia, and I do, but outline connotes organization, and they’re not organized. No, good.

Omnia: Okay, so we’re on the same boat, you just know how to like, I guess freestyle it? You know how to improvise. Yeah, cool. So okay, how do you find it at home for your writing? Like, How do you pitch your ideas? And how did you start pitching your ideas?

Aiden: Um, so I actually I wrote and I will occasionally but I wrote for I just freelance like, wellness, or like lifestyle magazines or like, on like websites for a while. And that was a really good exercise, because it kind of taught me to not be precious with anything, because it doesn’t matter. You know, I mean, you’re writing for like, a big audience. But also it’s not like, like, like, who cares about a restaurant round up. I mean, also, a lot of it was I was like working for a website that was like, views of like the best hotels and cities or like route or like restaurants, and they obviously didn’t have the budget to send me there. So I would kind of just like pull Yelp reviews, like, just like, we can’t actually pay you to experience any of this. But we want you to write about it.

Omnia: That sounds like a really good experience, by the way to just kind of try out your writing somewhere.

Aiden: Yeah, totally, totally like into feel a little bit more. like you said, was just sort of like editing over and over again, and feeling like it’s a really fraught experience. Like at some point, it was really helpful for me to be like the other person reading this is only going to read the one thing that I give them, and they’re only going to read it once, basically.

Omnia: I mean, they’re not paying attention to the quality of the writing. So it’s less pressure.

Aiden: Yeah. Yeah, totally. Like, at some point, it’s kind of just like, what is the most effective way to get this information across? And I think that really just helped me chill the fuck out a little bit. And yeah, that that’s, that was great. That’s sort of how I got into it. And then I got more an enemy at least wrote, you know, I’ve had some some fiction published. I’m in an auto fiction anthology coming out this fall.

Omnia: Oh my gosh congrats!

Aiden: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I’m stoked. Yeah, it’s archway editions, which is a Simon and Schuster imprint. So that’s gonna be Yeah, second stoked on that. But like, I was, that was somebody reaching out to me, that was just an email. I mean, honestly, I’m going to be real. I think that my meme page probably has done more for my writing career than my writing has.

Omnia: Well, yeah, I mean, you know, sometimes they can be text-heavy, and the text is really good. So I can definitely see that.

Aiden: Thank you. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, honestly, I feel like memes are just a way of tricking people into reading poems. Like it’s just nobody. You know, it makes me feel like Kathleen Hanna said, once that, like she started making music, because like, she took a class with Kathy Acker. And Kathy Acker was like, nobody’s gonna listen to you, if you’re writing, like, just make music instead. Kind of like, yeah, like, I think this is a way for a lot of artists to kind of be like, how do we, how do we enter the attention economy? I mean, for better or worse, there’s a lot of nuance, but like, you know.

Cindie: on the topic of making memes as a creative who is a meme creator and a writer, how do you think those two practices like engage with each other and have impacted each other?

Aiden: Oh, that’s a really good question. I mean, I think, I think, again, sort of there is a relationship between memes and I think especially memes and poetry and even screenwriting. And yeah, just because screenwriting and poetry are both really much about like, you translate a word to an image and you have this economy of language that you have to work with. And I think when we the best memes, in my opinion, are ones that like, the text and the image work together, in a way that’s like a little bit surprising, or, like you’re not immediately expecting them to kind of have a relationship or but something about like pairing them together. I don’t know. I mean, so much of meme creation is curatorial, right.

Omnia: And it is kind of like screenwriting now that you say, you know, you have to kind of pair the language and the imagery in a way that’s like unexpected. That’s so memes and so screenwriting.

Aiden: Totally and like you have so little space to do it, like you have to sort of be like what is the you know, what are the 15 words at maximum that are going to make someone have this feeling or like that are going to like world build, you know, or something like that, like a lot of it is like, creating something that feels like a little bit more atmospheric than I one off joke, I think especially in the work that all of us make, it feels a little bit less, like, maybe Twitter joke format and a little bit more. Like, I don’t know, like, there’s a sense of space, I think around both of your work that I really like that it creates, like a place and then there’s a place like it creates a joke, and then it creates the world that the joke lives in. And you get to like, live there for a second with it. And that’s like really special and I don’t I mean, yeah.

Cindie: it’s like designed to, it’s like, um, you know, all those memes about how you don’t need a joke, you just need fun. But that’s kind of true, like, the font that the text is in. And like the size and the skewing, and everything is such a big part of how people read it as well.

Omnia: Helena is really good at that. lilpercx.

Aiden: Yeah, yeah. Oh my god. Yeah, hell, it’s fucking great at that, like, Oh, man. Yeah, and also just in terms of subject matter, I mean, especially. Because the writing that I do is a little bit more personal. And even when I’m talking about like, cultural stuff, or like your, like online internet stuff, it’s still sort of, is about my relationship to it. And I feel like means also a space that there’s like, a lot of, there’s a lot of room for, like, metabolizing personal experience, or working through something or like, I mean, just writing and memes, ideally, both sort of I pedal and relatability. That’s the you know, that’s sort of the hook in terms of what makes an audience respond to something. And maybe that’s all art. I don’t know if writing is specific to that, per se. Um, yeah, it’s funny, I was like, having a, like, I was talking to a screenwriter recently, or a TV writer. And she was saying that, like, the first show she worked on was it really about deep personal experiences, like the writers room, it was all about, like, you know, things that have happened to you, and how we could turn that into a story and how we work through that, which is really interesting. And probably, you know, connected to a lot of the work that I do is probably similar to that. And then she moved on to a really genre show, like sort of like a CW Big Show. And she said that she started pitching those in the room was just like, Oh, we don’t do that here. Like not in a, you know, you fucked up way. But just in a like, we like we looked at other pieces of like media, like we’re like what, like what worked in another TV show? What worked in a movie, like what can we take from other art that exists instead of from our personal experiences. And I just think that’s a really interesting way to think about how you’re making stuff and where you’re pulling from, but in my experience, writing and memes both pull very, very often from personal experience, who is doing this shitty airport paperback murder novel of means, which I do love those. I say that, like with reverence, but I’m doing like the genre, meme that only references other material, because that sounds that sounds kind of insufferable. I bet it’s out there. And I like it. And I just can’t think of it now. But anyway,

Omnia: it’s a good way to you know, grow your account and everything. But I think what makes a meme really, really special is you put something in it that you’re scared to put out. And then yeah, you could, you know, you could put it out and it could flop. But you can also put it out and it can be the best thing ever. Those are the best names. Like something that sounds stupid, but you really, really believe it.

Cindie: the experience of posting a meme that you thought was fire, and no one understood what the hell you were talking about.

Aiden: Yeah, totally. And I don’t care about that so much. Like I’m huge. I mean, I am a little like that I’m here to feel to feel like no one understands you obviously doesn’t feel very good. But that doesn’t bug me as much as if I put something out that I kind of, like was on the fence about and people don’t like it. Like I feel like if I like it, then I kind of don’t give a fuck. But I also feel like that’s like, I follow recount privilege. Sure, always

Cindie: feel like you know that one meme of like the fish jumping out of the fish bowl into the other fish bowl. And it’s like, I’m nothing like y’all. That’s how I feel every time that my post gets no likes.

Omnia: You know, I just feel like okay, so you are in my annoying you’re like, should I not post anymore? And I think that’s I mean with the with the new algorithm that’s really affected the way I create. Yeah, so we are I have get past that. If I really like something, I should just post it and leave it up.

Aiden: Yeah, I feel like it’s really, really hard to not constantly feel like you’re on the edge of being in like your flop era. Like, that’s a really, which again, I had to then I have to remind myself like, this doesn’t matter at all like I can like no one. Such a weird, I don’t know, I’m constantly thinking about how much things matter because actually, I think they do matter a lot. And I think that the skill set to make them is like pretty extensive. I mean, you know, like what we’re doing is weird. It’s comedy, it’s art direction. It’s like graphic design. It’s like copywriting and editing. And it’s like social media management. And it’s been it’s like, you know, like, it’s just sort of it’s such, like marketing, like, it’s so many skill sets that are each kind of their own job. And then you do it for free. Beautiful. I appreciate that. But like, yeah, I mean, yeah, I don’t know, it’s cool, but it’s a lot of work.

Omnia: What was your proudest moment as a creator, like what was your Okay, I have made it.

Aiden: So I think maybe like, a year or two ago, I accidentally really just unintentionally became like the leading expert on I’m baby, which I think is really funny.

Omnia: I remember that era.

I’m Baby

Aiden: Really? Yeah, yeah. So this Yeah, I got baby I am in my flop era. That was like two years ago. But yeah, I just think about that a lot. Because it was like, I just made a meme about sort of like what like unpacking the idea of being baby. And then it got like, that meme was sort of used to like as a citation in like Vice and The Cut and Harper’s Bazaar. Like it just so funny, though, cuz also, no one tells you that like, it’s not like fucking Vice or whatever is like, Hey, we’re like using this because you’re just some anonymous internet entity. And again, even though it’s a big skill set names are sort of created to be like, disposable in their own way. So like, I don’t know, it’s a really weird thing. But yeah, that was like a moment about being like, again, like I studied, like, you know, like I’ve written for a really long time. I have, you know, I did the stupid classes in college. Right, right. You know, we read theory, and we thought about it. And I was like, Oh, my God, like, now I am part of like, a theory or a discourse, but by being an idiot, and that’s like, really cool. There was one after to find it. Someone also like quoted it in like, a book review on Amazon, like, my friend was like, I was buying this book, and I was getting Amazon reviews. I’m so glad that it was impactful. And it actually was really good, pretty cool. poetry book. So I’m like, at least, you know, at least smart people are out there putting in their Amazon reviews. I respect that.

Omnia: So okay, this is kind of a weird question. Do you Google yourself?

Aiden: No, but I have a Google Alert set up. So it will tell me,

Omnia: I never get any alerts for some reason. But then I would see something new that I didn’t get an alert. So yeah, I don’t know. That’s gonna bring so much anxiety.

Cindie: I do not like seeing what people said about me. I’m like us your business?

Aiden: Yeah, it’s been I try really hard not to lurk generally, like I’m really good at, like, not checking people’s pages, or like, I don’t like think it’s like a common joke of like, like lurking your ex or saying, I’m like, I will literally never do that. Like, I’m just not interested. I don’t need to see, I do not want to know. So I feel that way a little bit about myself and my own internet presence. But knowing that the Google are is vague and doesn’t give me anxiety. Well,

Omnia: I mean, alets works for you. But I’ve never gotten a single alert. For some reason. Maybe I just did it wrong. Like, shut up. But yeah, like, I’ll Google myself. And I’ll see, like, you know, a few articles here and there that I never was alerted to. So

Aiden: yeah, that’s so interesting. I also, like, I mean, I did a weird thing, where like, my account was a personal account, and then I started making memes with it, and I sort of didn’t think anyone would follow it. So and then they did so I talked myself and I’m like, that’s my first and last name. And I’m the only Aiden Arata like in the world. I’m pretty sure so I kind of don’t know if I if I fuck up or if something shitty, like appears about me on the internet. I feel like that’s very much tied to like my civilian presence. And I guess that’s just like a thing that that’s true. A lot. Yeah, so I just try not to think about it.

Omnia: the last question In this segment, is What’s your ideal career in this?

Aiden: That’s a great question. I mean, I just want to write Honestly, I like I like making memes and I want to do I want to do more screenwriting, I want to do more sort of longer fiction writing, I definitely wouldn’t stop making me so I actually now like am pretty much a professional meme maker like I have a couple clients and like over the pandemic, I used to work in TV and then the pandemic hit and then TV wasn’t, as I was like an assistant and then TV wasn’t really happening anymore. And so I kind of segwayed into full time, content creation, and some of that I really like some feels dystopian and miserable. And in like, I’m actively doing evil work by like, tricking people into paying attention to things for birds to get off on. But also maybe I feel that way about my own content, sometimes complicated.

Omnia: Memes are kind of evil, because they do demand people’s attention. They take people’s attention away from you know, maybe more important things.

Aiden: Yeah, or specifically, like, on an app owned by the Yeah. That’s Yeah. I mean, it’s just, you know, again, it’s all not Yeah, I would probably have the same reservations in any creative industry. But yeah, I mean, honestly, I just want to make my own work, like I just want to get paid to tell stories is my stuff and in sort of, in whatever way that I can do that would be phenomenal. And, and just to have like, a little bit more, like, right now it feels like I have a lot of agency over my own stuff. That is that I do for free, or that is, you know, like honorariums, or like very little. And then the stuff that I do for money is very much you know, like someone else’s voice or someone else’s. I mean, good clients, you know, I get to do what I want. And that’s really fun. And I have some really some people that I really, really love working with. And also Yeah, ultimately, I just kind of want to make my own stuff and have that be sustainable in the long run. That’s my goal.

Omnia: perfect answer.

Cindie: Do you have like a dream writing project that you would want to work on?

Aiden: Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to get too into details because it’s like kind of silly but right now I’m like writing noir movies and like y2k and I’m like, really stoked on it’s like a really fun project. Also by writing I do like a lot of like collaging around it or like a lot of like walking around thinking about it. I mean, it is you know, it’s in final draft. It’s getting there but it’s like just sort of like I think it’d be really fun to do something like really internet-y and genre-y but isn’t set in like a contemporary setting.

Cindie: I really love the y2k Horror idea. I think that will be amazing.

Aiden: Yeah, I don’t think it just be super fun and aesthetic. And like, I don’t know, you can just think people do really stupid shit. And I mean, I don’t know I’m kind of also obsessed with the idea of y2k. Especially because I do feel like we are living in this slow apocalypse.

Cindie: Someone having a mental breakdown, but it’s like a bedazzled flip phone. It would be amazing.

Aiden: Yes. Oh my god. Like I think that was even like pre side kick. Like that was razor era. Maybe you bring up a brick Nokia brick, and is

Cindie: use the Nokia brick to like kill the demon.

Aiden: Oh my god, it’s just snake. It’s the demon is the snake from snake. That’s good. Thank you were workshopping.

Omnia: So I guess let’s move to a more serious topic. Alright. So you know, in the last couple of years, Aiden you you made a brave decision to call out somebody who, you know, is abusive towards you. That person was got a lot more followers than you he was, you know, considered to be powerful in our community. So I kind of want to hear about like, what your expectations were versus what happened.

Aiden: That’s a really yeah, this is a really interesting question, because I still I feel, yeah, I don’t know that I even had clear expectations. I think that it just felt like I couldn’t. At that time, knowing what I knew at the time that it and especially I think a lot of it was that it was my personal experience, but also that it had become clear that this was a pattern that I wasn’t the only like woman that had experienced this and also that was intentional, like it was an intentional, like, like things have been done to cover up or like directly lie about actions against other people. So I think it was just sort of like that, but knowing that It’s sort of felt like, like a lot of, you know, I mean, I think especially then and indefinitely now still, but like, I think it’s sort of, like the the community quote, unquote, like, there was a lot of, like a lot of the discourse, and a lot of the posting was about sort of issues around sort of, like social justice or around, you know, like, ways to behave are pretty explicitly like anti abuser. And again, that’s something that like, that person would listen and sort of was, like, friends with people, and it just sort of felt like, How can I be part of this, if, like, I know this, and I’m not saying anything about it, you know, like, it just felt like, I felt really complicit. And I mean, honestly, a lot of that was sort of my personal shit. Because I before I sort of understood, you know, like, I had kind of worked with that person who had led me to believe that it was maybe like, a one off or like a miscommunication or like, you know, a lapse in the way that men are educated about consent. And then when it you know, like, I had sort of swallowed that and, and worked in sort of been like your head call you in let’s talk about this, let’s do this together, I believe you. And then it became clear that that was not the situation at all. Like it was like, at that point. Yeah, I felt really conflicted. And I think for me, it was almost like a guilt reaction about being like, I don’t like I don’t think that I can, like, behave this way. And like present as someone who is, like, safe for people, if I’m not acting like that. So that wasn’t exactly, yeah, like, I don’t know what I wanted out of it. And then ultimately, you know, the more stuff came out in the more people, the more women that like, came to me with, with their own stories about this person, that sort of the more it became clear that he was specifically using his platform to find people to sexually assault, and that at that point, I was like, I would really like this person to not have an account, like I want this person to sort of be de platformed.

And all the, you know, ultimately, like, if that didn’t happen, I know that he was fired from a job, I know that he was dropped by his management. I explicitly, like, was not directly involved in that, like, I know, he was dropped by his management because he, like, raped people and then make like YouTube videos about it. Like, I’m gonna go ahead and say, that was a him thing. But like, you know, oh, my god, no, it was it was mad. It was mad. It was like, like, I think, for me, the reality of it, like in terms of like, sort of consequences and punishment, like, you know, he’s not dead, like, he still exists. And I certainly, like, I mean, I think it’s like, insane that he still has an account, like, why would you even choose to have the same account after that, like, after people know that about you? But whatever, like. So but also, yeah, like, it’s a sticky situation, because it is like, What does justice look like? And I think that experience was really interesting, especially in terms of talking to like, different people who sort of were survivors or victims of his actions, because, you know, and they’re like, there are a fair amount of people who didn’t want their story told publicly, and that’s something that you have to respect, but you have to listen to, like, really horrific details and have someone be like, you know, like, you telling you telling people about, this wouldn’t be justice for me. And you have to honor that, of course, like you can’t. So it’s sort of a Yeah, that was really an interesting exploration,

Omnia: that must have been a really rough time for you for sure.

Aiden: Yeah, yeah. It sucks to be sort of the public face of something and then also managing a lot of people’s private trauma and like, sort of getting it crumbled, which isn’t to say that I like you know, of course, I have no resentment towards anyone who came to me in confidence, like that’s something that you deserve. Like, I made a choice, you know, and that’s that like, and it ultimately it was, I think, the right choice. Like I’ve thought about that a lot. There have been times that I’ve been like, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but just like, Don’t think that I could sit with that like it just I yeah, and we can and I guess I’m not entirely like, pro call out. Like I think there’s a lot of like bullshit call outs. But I think the the intentionality, the pattern and the fact that it was harm on a physical body or a many several physical bodies. I think that combination was just like, Oh, this is like really bad. It’s not a good situation.

Omnia: They were using their platform to, you know, prey on people.

Cindie: Because people like that not. It’s like when you get involved with someone like that and you’re someone who’s like a public figure or whatever, as well. It’s like, they will use their connection to you to prey on Other people as well, if you like, if you act like you’re cool with them, but that’s something that I noticed about like these internet predators. So I think it’s really important to deplatform them even though somebody has to, like, take the brunt of it. And like, that’s what you did. And I don’t know, I think it’s like a heroic thing to do for sure. Like no argument.

Omnia: Absolutely. You made the right decision 100%

Aiden: I feel I feel the same way. You know, and I know, yeah, like, there have been other like people that you’ll have that experience with an interest. It’s just fuck, like, it’s just really shitty. And I think that it’s a really tough thing to do. And it also ultimately, I think, is the, the, I guess it’s like harm reduction. But also Yeah, like, I have this memory of, like, hanging out with him before I knew this. And like close to this and looking at our, like, I didn’t even know how to look at a follower breakdown at that point. And him being like, Oh, I only have an I think I said to me, like, I just figured out I was like, oh, like, I mean, again, gender is fake and stupid. But according to the Facebook binary, I was like, you know, like, oh, like 75% of the people are my followers are girls and like, that’s kind of cool. And he was like, oh, like, Mine isn’t high. You should tell more girls to follow me.

Omnia: eww

Aiden: Like I think like it would be a little bad. Like, it feels like no get us like I feel it feels like toxic masculinity that like so many men Follow me. And I wish that my audience like maybe like you can help me get girls to fall in the knowing that he assaulted as Oh my god, like it’s true. Yeah, but that’s, that’s exactly it’s been you. I think it’s that idea of like, you become a shield, which fucking sucks. Like, the idea that you are representative of this person is I mean, that’s it that I had to really go to therapy to unpack because I felt that I felt really, really, really guilty for not saying anything sooner and better and faster for a really long time. But also, yeah, that I think that the moments like that, and I was like, Oh my God, you’re so you’re so predatory.

Yeah, yeah. And the response from the actual, like, community was phenomenal. Like that was better than I mean, I didn’t know that anyone would listen or care. So that was really, that was really cool. It was really cool to see that other people also just like, I don’t want to fuck with that, or just like that they believe you like it just sucks to like, I don’t know. I mean, I think about like language. And trauma. trauma is so weird, because it’s like, the way that you create memories isn’t even linear. Like it’s all you know, the body, you dB, keeping the score, but like, it’s like in the way that we talk about stuff. But the, you know, to be believed, you have to really translate this strange and nuanced experience in which like, you’re making memories in weird ways. And you’re constantly questioning yourself, and then you’re thinking of stuff later. Like, it was like months and months before I thought about that conversation. You know, like, after usually I can imagine female followers, I get stuff like that, but you have to sort of put it in this like really, sort of like, just the facts, linear way, and you’re constantly asking yourself, sort of like, Where is a point where someone would like, would challenge me on whether or not this is true, or like where, like, Where, where is it easy for someone to not believe me? And how do I like, you know, how do I troubleshoot that? With it’s such a weird, like, thing that you have to do? And I’m just like, really immensely grateful for the number of people who were just kind of like, yeah, like, that’s really fucked up. Like all I wanted wasn’t up answer with you. But it’s fucked up. Like, yeah,

Omnia: seeing it is kind of like stating a case. Like you’re, you’re like, you know, you’re representing yourself. Kind of like, it’s kind of you have to really think of the things that people will doubt and how to troubleshoot them. That’s really interesting that you said that. It’s scary

Cindie: to be in the situation where you feel like it’s your word against theirs, especially if you’re going against someone who has like, maybe a larger or more intense following than you do.

Aiden: Totally, I mean, at that point. Yeah, like they’re, they have more amplification than you like, their voice matters more. Um, I don’t know. Like, it’s weird to think about where Yeah, like now with I have, like a real platform is also funny. I mean, I’d love to talk to you all about, like, sort of what, how that changes, because now that I have a really big platform, it feels in some ways scarier to have really like strong opinions, or to like to call someone out like it would be. It would just be a different challenge.

Omnia: For sure. Yeah. Like if you you could really like right now you could really destroy someone. So you really do have to be more careful. I guess, you know, more than you did a couple of years ago for sure. Um, then his apology, I think was kind of the point where I was like everything Aiden said, Absolutely. It was 100% true. I mean, I believed, you know, before he came up with the apology, but you know, there’s always that they know this horrible to say, but whenever a call out comes out, there’s always just like, thing in my mind, like, okay, maybe it’s a misunderstanding, or maybe it’s a kind of like, you know how men are just not aware of what they do sometimes. So that was kind of on my mind. But, you know, as soon as I listened to his apology, I was, I was more than sure that this was like a pattern.

Aiden: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s it, too, that he really didn’t help himself. He really told on himself quite a few times. So that’s, that’s good. But like, yeah, it’s, I don’t know, it’s so messy. It’s so that’s something else. That’s in terms of long term projects, which I know you’d asked about earlier. Yeah, I really, I do want to do something with that. Because I think that it’s a really interesting story. And I think a lot of that is just figuring out, I mean, letting it sit for a minute, too, because it’s so I don’t want it to be my whole personality. That’s a whole other thing, too, is that it’s not reflective of a lot of about me, like or like, and that’s also something that, you know, having a smaller account, like, obviously, it’s really scary that like, what if no one hears you?

Omnia: it’s trauma that you experienced. So I mean, you don’t want it to be your whole personality, but sometimes it kind of is until you’ve healed. That’s just yeah.

Aiden: that’s a really, that’s a really good point. And that’s really compassionate. I think that’s also it, too, is that I could extend myself a little bit of that compassion. But um,

Omnia: what about closure? do you think closure is a real thing? Or is closure just kind of living through life until you have healed?

Aiden: That’s a really, gosh, I don’t know, it probably depends on the person. I mean, I think I would feel, I think I would feel a sense of closure, if like, he didn’t have that account, or it wasn’t like something that I was constantly afraid of, like, running into on the internet, like, it fucking sucks to like, you know, open Twitter and see that, like, you know, something reposted from, like, the person who assaulted like, it, just, you know, it feels shitty, and I would feel better about that. But also, I’m like, that’s in the cards, not like an immediate, like, I can’t control that. So like, I mean, even talking about it, the way that we are now feels like a lot of progress. Like, I think that it is an important conversation, because I think it reflects, you know, a lot of different ideas around sort of, like what community even is, and sort of what it means to, you know, have had your values or, you know, like really laid out online and like, I don’t, I don’t think that makes me like an activist or anything, but like, you know, there’s no physical weird pressure, like I don’t, and like and obviously people can have those values online, and maybe not performed them in real life. And like, what is, you know, I don’t know, like, there’s just a lot to unpack around that. And I think that it’s an important conversation, and I’m grateful that we can all have it in a way that feels kind and, you know, also it’s not activating for me, which is really nice. So maybe that’s closer to you. And that’s just kind of

Omnia: that’s a really good sign. It’s not, you know, kind of triggering for you.

Aiden: Yeah, yeah, totally. And again, thank you for asking beforehand, sort of in checking in. It feels Yeah, like, I think just having some control. I mean, again, it’s all narrative, like, which is so interesting. I guess this is sort of a long conversation about how we talk about Yeah, like living and having like, a narrative about yourself and what we do, which is very human, I mean, it’s, you know, like the Joan Didion, like, what we tell stories in order to live or whatever. Which is also funny because I’m like, Yes, that’s I’m living I’m telling stories to in order to live when I’m posting about like corny Garfield or whatever, like, or like Bobby Hill. Yeah, I

Omnia: I feel the same way. Like, you know, this. And that’s what really got me into memes is just being able to tell my thoughts to a bunch of people who agree.

Aiden: Yeah, it feels really good. It’s really nice to have. Yeah, to just have someone to understand your experience a little bit. I don’t know. It’s a really it’s a weird special medium. It’s also a hellhole. Sometimes I mean, the internet just is, but generally,

Omnia: I definitely more special than a hellhole for sure. I know. There are downsides. No, I think memes are gonna change the world if I’m not being too dramatic.

Aiden: I love that. I love that. So when people ask sort of like what you do, or ask about, uh, do you do you say like, I’m a memer, or I’m making music What is your, for me? I think there’s just like a slight moment of objection. When I try to like explain things as an art form to people but I like genuinely, I think the are important and I believe that they are. And it’s also hard to not it feels a little bit cringe.

Omnia: There’s always, there’s always like a pause. Like what do you mean you make memes? Like my friends from college who would follow me for a long time, like one of my friends told me (shout out to Sam.) He actually thought my page was just like me finding pictures on the internet and reposting them. And he was following you for like a year before he realized that I was actually making those pictures. So that was kind of interesting because people don’t really, people don’t realize that there are people who make these memes that you see and forward. Because they’re just there to be consumed and disposed of. So yeah.

Cindie: That’s like what Aiden said earlier, how, like, even though memes are like an art, it’s like we put a lot of effort. People who make me slid a lot of effort into it, but something about the format is that it’s supposed to be somewhat disposable. And that like really inter that really affects how people view the creation of memes.

Aiden: Yeah, totally. Like it’s something that you have to, that you can scroll by and forget. But also, I mean, you know, we’ve already referenced, like I think several times means that are like, oh, you know that one or that like, clearly they do stay seared in your brain. Like, I think, I don’t know the internet, I’m like sort of unpacking this whole thing in my head. I call it plastic bag theory, which is sort of that it’s, it’s disposable, but it’s also forever. Um, and. So now we have like, like, what do we do with this? What do we do with this stuff it’s designed to be disposable, but that is really going to live forever, whether that means digitally or whether that means that it is just more impactful than we’re giving it credit for. But like, yeah, like that, you know, it it’s. It’s permanent archive. Like, yeah. So yeah, plastic bags seriously. Think about all the time. And that’s just my, um, and by, by theory, I mean, it’s just the way the thing that I call it inside of my own head, but yeah, memes are super weird that way. Yeah. Like we’re kind of supposed to not take them seriously. Um, this might get into sort of our conversation around like irony and the internet and why being sincere is really cringe, but like, We’re not supposed to take them seriously, but also they are like permanent works of art. That like, I mean, especially now, because I’ve started getting more into like video work, like. You can take like eight hours to make a 30-second video.

Omnia: I love your reels by the way

Aiden: Thank you so much. Thank you. Yeah, it feels like self harm to not take them seriously.

Omnia: Also to make them, you have to take yourself seriously. You have to really unpack your thoughts and your feelings and you have to just pour yourself into them. And how is that? Not serious. That’s very serious.

Aiden: Yeah. Yeah. That’s such a good point. And then even, even things like. Not like, I mean, yeah. I think it’s also just that even if the work that you’re making, isn’t serious, like you were saying earlier, even if it’s sort of flipping or there’s a joke involved, like there is a point of the creation process, like honoring those emotions, but you have to like take the non serious thing really seriously for a little bit. And I think that’s sort of a feeling, this is like a trick. This is like a thing that they don’t tell you or they’re like, oh actually, like everyone that has ever made anything that you like has had to be cringe about it and has had to like really dedicate themselves to this and defend it and believe in it, even for like a little bit, even the dumbest thing on the surface. And so it’s okay to do that because every artist that you like in every comedian that you like is also doing that, they’re just not telling you because they want it to seem off the cuff.

Aiden: It’s sad. I feel like the way that this conversation it’s like being straightforward or taking something seriously is like, The same thing as being cringe. It’s sad.

Omnia: I don’t know why. I don’t know how we, why we have come to this point. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s the saturation of content. Like you hear something, you know, multiple times until it becomes, uh, just background noise. And so when you see it again and you see somebody saying it seriously, it’s like, what have you not been on the internet? This has been said so many times.

Aiden: Yeah. You know, it was a bummer, like, uh, fellas is it cringe to take your art or your life seriously when you spend all of your time on it? And it’s like, no, obviously it should not be. Um, I also think that there is something about media in particular, because it is sort of such a Uh, by necessity, like it’s just like designed to be sort of like an ego experience. And maybe there’s something about acknowledging that, like maybe there’s something, an irony or sort of like saying that like, like if something is super sincere or super like genuine feeling, maybe that in itself can sort of feel ironically like insincere, because then it’s on this platform. That’s like inherently going to be about like promoting you or like reducing every user to like a consumable or a brand. And, and like that can feel really like disingenuous and dissonant in a weird to us. So, I mean, I often will see that and want to respond with like, Fuck this like, or like that person’s fake, but also like, no, cause there is something really noble about sort of being like, Hey, this, this is like the medium that we have, like, as we were talking about, this is the way that you can get thousands of people to pay attention to you in real time and have a conversation with you in real time. Like, why not try to use that for like, for like a little bit of good and like, not totally sell out all the time. Um, but like, I don’t know. Yeah. Maybe I wonder whether that has something to do with it.

Omnia: So one last one, because we’re running out of time. So when I guess this is a question for everybody, but when y’all create something, are you creating for your audience or are you creating for your peers?

Cindie: I make stuff for myself.

Aiden: Yeah, that’s a really good answer. I guess I need to, I mean, hard not to think about people in your head though. I, I think I make stuff for my peers, like, or for like my, yeah. I make stuff for my mutuals, but I like to be, I’m the opposite of you, Cindy. And I don’t make, I don’t make myself, but I think I do, because again, it’s that thing where I make something that I think is funny. And no one likes it. I’m okay with it. But if I make something that I feel like, uh, I kind of just made for other people and they don’t like it, then I’m really bummed out. So I guess. Focusing on not, or like, yeah.

Cindie: I feel like when you make stuff for your peers though, like there’s this wider audience, that’s like people who just like memes or they follow you and your peers.

So when you have that kind of public dialogue, that there appears through your art, that’s like this whole larger conversation for people to consume as well.

Omnia: This has been a really, really good conversation by the way. I really enjoyed it. Do you want to talk about your newsletter, Aiden, to kind of wrap up? Okay. So tell us about it. Um, how can people subscribe?

Aiden Um, Totally. So, yeah, I just talks about a lot of the stuff that we have talked about. Um, you know, it was just, uh, experiencing, uh, the internet in what might be the apocalypse together and trying to sort of like, hold hands through that. Um, yeah, it’s called under the influence and it’s just aidenarata.substack.com. Um, and it’s sporadic, but it’s uh, yeah, I’m, I’m writing one right now about, Angel Mamii. I don’t know if you know of her, her videos, but I’m really obsessed with her. Yeah. Just stuff that I like and why I like it. Okay, cool. Under the influence. Thank you so much for your time. And for thinking of me, this was really fun and it was so nice to hear y’all’s voices and get to just hang out with.

Omnia: of course, thank you so much for agreeing to do it.

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