On Wednesday afternoon, whilst scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed as I somehow always do for the final ten minutes of my lunch break at work, I came across a cure for boredom in the form of a Someecards story. Entitled "Woman defends her controversial decision to wear clothes she likes to a wedding," it detailed the decision at length (as its lengthy headline suggests) made by Liz Krueger, a thirty-something Minneapolis-based nutrition, and fitness coach. I took a few moments to assess the case made against this seemingly poor woman, thumbed through the comment section and made my peace with it.
No, I didn't care that she put on the garment in question on that particular day and no, I didn't care that she hurt people's feelings. (It was my understanding that everyone involved was an adult -- and it's entirely possible that the violated bride's entourage was comprised of individuals every bit as attention-seeking and flamboyant as Ms. Krueger.) A bit of further research taught me two things: 1) That the scantily-clad guest appeared just at the wedding reception, not at the actual wedding (very important), and 2) That the story I was poring over was over a month old and in fact nothing more than the object of basic post circulation aimed to garner more traffic over at Someecards.com. Some news. At this point my level of exasperation with my own damn self-reached even greater heights than before (I had chosen that day to replace reading a novel over leftover stir-fry with the aforementioned newsfeed scrolling for ten solid minutes)—but I wanted to be sure I understood the exact nature of the post's popularity before dismissing it entirely.
There seemed to be two lenses through which to view this story. The first is fairly cut and dry, soaked firmly in a bucket of slut shame and ironed neatly with two fists of family values: When you wear an outfit designed for clubbing to an occasion celebrating marriage, the holiest and most unshakable type of societal bond, you deserve to be mocked. The fact that someone actually touched her certainly crosses a line in my book, but within this point of view I suppose it comes with the territory; she went to a party, alcohol is consumed at parties, alcohol encourages debauchery and physical contact—so by the transitive property she should have expected to be a target of entertainment and strangers' hands, especially considering the fact that her perfect body was essentially bound with colorful saran wrap.
The second lens, as illustrated most eloquently by the folks at Someecards and by innumerable comments dripping from the plethora of versions of this story floating 'round the internet, is simple: How dare they? People were mean to her face, and then they were meaner on the internet days after the event! Through this lens, Krueger sought no special attention aside from the pure desire to look great in public; she was bullied. And thus the light of kindness was born of this "story:" Ms. Krueger used her Instagram presence to launch the #kruegerkindness movement, which has surfaced across the web on various women's selfies and even on coffee mugs in the name of treating our fellow women with the love and respect that they ought to receive.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm all about some love and respect. One time I listened to "Dear Prudence" four times on repeat and then I cried.
What irks me (it's really more than mere irking; there's actually a sort of frustrated burning that gets hotter and hotter the more I mull it over) is the apparent need we all share as internet users to share. Our opinions on subjects that never could have existed in years past are suddenly so incredibly relevant. The time I choose to take crafting a comment to leave for Ms. Krueger and her highlighter pen of a frock is permanent! Not only is it permanent, but it is 100 percent validated by all of the people whose news organizations ordered them to cover this ordinary happenstance and make it relevant to their readers' lives. Need proof? The Australian blogger Constance Hall first surmised the event, defending Krueger, on July 1. Metro UK covered it the next day, followed by People magazine on July 3, Refinery29 on July 4, and Huffington Post, Scarymommy.com, Hollywood Gossip, InStyle, and NBC on July 5.
It worries me that rather than focusing on our own lives or the lives of our family members (or, I don't know, issues that matter?) we are duking it out over do's and don't's of fashion specific to a wedding reception none of us were invited to. Thousands of people collected the information in these reports and unwittingly added it to their personal arsenals of social opinion where it will occupy space, and later be drug up to lend insight in similar situations.
The strangest part is that these other situations probably won't exist in our physical worlds either. They'll appear the next time Kendall Jenner wears a body-con dress without a bra, or the next time your brother's girlfriend's best friend posts a revealing picture on Facebook. And because you invested so much emotion and investigatory patience the last time it happened, you really, really care.
I feel that, as a generation, we can do better. With the surge of artists and creators currently swelling in our midst, it is in fact imperative that we do better. While it is true that the commenting audience on these types of posts spans all ages, creeds, and genders, I've noticed that is often us—the young forward-thinkers brimming with persuasive, enlightened words—who spend the most time writing responses and making efforts to change the minds of those who troll serious commentators and lash out at women's rights. Verifiable news that relates to the sanctity and progress of the society we all occupy has every reason to be on the internet and encourage meaningful dialogue. But in the years moving forward, I politely suggest we screw #kruegerkindness and get on with making the world a truly better place.