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Magazine

09 May 2022
I WILL NOT BE LIKE Squidward Tentacles

Estela Ortíz

When I finally managed to officially enter adulthood, and I’m not talking about the day I turned 30 but rather the day in which thanks to a permanent job (albeit as a fake freelancer) I was able to afford to move into an apartment with my cat Sancho, I had my first panic attack. I thought I was about to die.

Welcome back to me screaming:
AAAAAAH AAAH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

After talking about it with my psychologist and a psychiatrist, I realized that I am terrified of getting older, not the fear of physically aging or dying (which I also feel) but the fear of losing my ability to play. The idea of becoming Squidward terrifies me. A character who desperately wants to be an artist but does nothing but fail in his attempts because he doesn’t know how to play, Squidward doesn’t know how to let himself go, he only knows how to follow to the letter the instructions he reads in art manuals, and that makes him one unhappy, bitter and envious squid.

*Me taking my 7th shot of vodka*
My head: What are you doing?
My liver: What are you doing?
My belly: What are you doing?
My dignity: What are you doing?
Me to my ex: What are you doing?

I don’t want to be Squidward, I want to be SpongeBob.

Please don’t make fun of me…
cause i’m actually really ✧ ・゚: * F R A G I L E * : ・゚✧

I have nothing against adults (well maybe a little), but nothing seems more depressing to me than seeing people who have lost their ability to learn by having fun. The kind of people who think that intelligence resides in serious things, in the solemnity of high culture. Those people who have annihilated their childish part thinking that this makes them more erudite. This, I think, is being condemned to a living death.

I’m so h*rny I told the local indie band’s bassist im underage

Perhaps it’s because of this that I am obsessed with keeping sight of what younger people are doing. I need to keep a bridge with them in order to keep in touch with my childhood self and, as much as I’m embarrassed by it, with my adolescent self, as well. My battle is to ensure that we don’t end up like Boomers, watching the world change with prejudice and fear.

Ok, this is a new song, it’s called ‘if you see a quiet kid then don’t call them quiet because it will ruin their whole day’, it goes like this:
¡¡¡¡STOP IT!!!!

Like most people over the age of 20, I downloaded TikTok during the pandemic lockdown and was completely blown away. One of the first videos I saw was of a very young girl saying something like this:
My father: Engineer
My mother: Professor
Me: An anxious lesbian

WOW. *Like.* I liked all the lesbian videos that appeared on #ForYou so TikTok assumed I was a lesbian and that’s how I earned a front row seat to queer Tik-Tok (which, in case you didn’t realize it, is the part of TikTok you want to be on). A place somewhere between funny, rough and sexy, free from hetero-cringe, in which mainstream narratives are collectively dismantled and where traditionally marginal voices take on a never-before-seen prominence. We are talking about an infinite number of videos with millions of likes and reproductions made by geeks, asexuals, and fat, racialized, non-neurotypical, poor, transgender people, as well as adolescents. Lots of adolescents.

Me on a horror movie knowing that i’m going to die first:
✧ ・゚: * i’M bLacK… I’m neGroOooOO* : ・゚✧

All those people expelled from the world of acceptability and condemned as monsters suddenly have their own loudspeaker, and for the first time it seems that they have a wide audience with which to dialogue.

And all those adolescents, they’re wonderful. Okay, so most of the content created by teens on the app is still very normative and mostly super problematic. Okay, so idealizing them would also be somewhat condescending due to ageism. But still, they’re wonderful.

I have transformed myself into the clitoris… now the man can never find me here

As voyeurs, we can access their most intimate universe, we can enter their rooms, see them express themselves in their own codes and discover what matters most to them. TikTok is essentially transforming the forms of entertainment as we know it, and adolescents have found in this place the opportunity to regain control of their own representation, a space in which they can build a counter-narrative outside of labels created by intergenerational prejudice.

・゚: * It’s time to brush my teeth before i go to bed but first i’ll check that there are no monsters in the shower * : ・゚✧

A space to generate content but also to find and discover an affinity of discourse, and we know just how important that is for people on the margins. TikTok is a source of alternative references that builds bridges and allows us to create communities and understand each other.

Everyone tells me… You’re cool, faggot
But no asks me… Hey faggot, you cool?

Nobody takes teenagers seriously, but oh, the things they say! The infantilization and condescension towards teens deprives us of an invaluable story of people who are experiencing the same chaos as us but from positions that the rest of us cannot access. Isn’t their experience and opinion valuable?

People be like: “Capitalism is the best, socialism NEVER WORKS”
I’m 16 and this is the 2nd global economic crisis i’ve suffered

During confinement, many of us, from the isolation and delirium of our own homes and minds, found a common ground on TikTok that somehow allowed us a catharsis. A connective catharsis to share the fear and anxiety of the situation, often intimately and crudely but also with humor and absurdity. “Everything reminds me of him,” said one teenage girl, as she took a cucumber out of the fridge.

The strange limbo that the pandemic put us in normalized exposing ourselves to the world in pajamas, completely unkempt or crying. Just like in the Exterminating Angel, the rules we had been socialized with began losing their meaning and one could stop taking showers as a kind of animal experiment (my record was 4 days, and I truly enjoyed them), nor was there any reason not to spend the day walking around the house rolled up inside of a quilt.

(crying) I wanna be a GIRL and I wanna have FRIENDS that are girls I’m so TIRED of being a BOY and being so worried that i have to like BASKETBALL and FISHING… This is BULLS*IT I wanna make a PUZZLE

I think, fortunately, many adolescents are no longer comfortable with the culture of perfected self-representation, the selfie culture. Paris Hilton has nothing for them. On TikTok it is very common to see unknown users or celebrities like Doja Cat dress in pajamas without filters and from an unflattering angle (something that, if you think about it, is almost impossible to see on Instagram), a kind of intimate realism I truly appreciate.

When I give a pink marker to a classmate:
HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THAT I DON’T LIKE VAGINAS!?

A similar trend is to share the before and after of a total look. The more distance there is between the before and after, the more successful the video will be. From this perspective, the act of putting on makeup is a ritual, a process, and performativity takes center stage on TikTok. This is how the illusionism of the selfie culture is broken, because yes, the final look is FABULOUS, but nobody tries to convince you that it is not a disguise. In fact, it is the disguise itself and the ability to dress up that is being celebrated.

It all started with my mom, and then my dad. And then they had ME. And then they didn’t want me. ¡So now I have white parents!

The glow upis a trend that interests me a lot and that also reflects this paradigm shift of self-representation on social networks. Users put together a video of photos arranged chronologically from their childhood to the present. These videos obviously include childhood photos that you would NEVER show anyone. That photo where you were wearing braces, a haircut that was clearly a mistake, and the one where your arms were visibly too long compared to the rest of your body, or your ears were huge compared to the size of your head, or the photo in which you hadn’t yet transitioned. Childhood and adolescence are terrifying times for many people and it is a relief to be able to share them and see that they are a universal experience.

L. is for the way u leave me on read
O. is for o sh*t i’m gonna die alone
V. is for very very scared for my f*king future
E. is even less because i am a whole ass mess

If adolescents have taught us anything, it is that we must accept and embrace our own vulnerability. For some reason the Z’s spiritual animal is the frog: a small, googly-eyed, slimy, funny frog. A little frog who doesn’t want to be disturbed. It seems that, fortunately, the younger generations have learned their lesson and no longer want to be, as Shrek says, an onion with a thousand layers. Accepting one’s own vulnerability is a characteristic of childhood that we should not have discarded in order to define the adult experience. Why the hell does being an adult mean pretending that we’re not living in a sea of ​​terrifying doubt?

My dad waking me up for the 5th time
Me: Oh hi, thanks for checking in ✧ ・゚: * i’M StiLL A pEaCe oF gArBagE* : ・゚✧

What kind of society ignores the wisdom of an entire generation?
Repeat with me:
I will not be like Squidward,
I will not be like Squidward,
I will not be like Squidward.

 

Estela Ortiz (Terrassa, 1988) graduated in Political Science and holds a degree in Art from the Escola Massana. She is a cultural analyst and communicator, especially in the field of digital culture. She has published an essay on identities on Tinder with Nuria Gómez Gabriel (Love me, Tinder, 2019 ed. Temas de Hoy). She currently has a daily section on 'Els Experts' on iCat.fm where she talks about feminism, current affairs and culture, and directs 'Sabor a WIFI', a podcast about millennial and Z culture. On her YouTube channel she does video essays analysing cultural phenomena as diverse as Shrek, Pepe the frog or cryptobros.

Articles

09 May 2022

I WILL NOT BE LIKE Squidward Tentacles

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