Go Ahead, Throw the Social Grenade

After a year of the pandemic, I want all the drama I can get

Photo: Alyson Aliano / Getty images

At some point in the last six months, I realized almost every conversation I have is exactly the same. All anyone can talk about anymore is their Covid fatigue, their projected timeline for when and whether this will all end, and how life under shutdowns has caused them to lose their grip on reality. No one ever knows what day it is; everyone has opinions about vaccine efficacy, reopening strategies, and those assholes who went to Tulum in the middle of a pandemic.

I know there’s a logical explanation for this. It’s been a year without parties, packed bars, and the messy interpersonal drama that comes with cramming a bunch of friends, friends of friends, and frenemies into a room. Everyone I know has pared down their social lives; gone are the days of running into acquaintances and catching up with near-strangers.

It feels silly to complain about this given the actual losses people have faced over the last year. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve suffered some huge loss because I’m missing out on gossip — there are obviously bigger problems out there. But I’m also not going to pretend I’m some kind of saint who doesn’t appreciate hearing about the details of other people’s personal lives. If I wanted to try to intellectualize my love for shit-talking, I’d say something about how zeroing in on meaningless drama is a way of, however briefly, letting myself worry about something other than the endless catastrophe we’ve all been forced to endure. But it isn’t that deep. I just like talking shit.

With that in mind, I have a humble proposal: Everyone should lean in to causing interpersonal chaos, if only for the collective social good. End that quarantine situationship you’ve been ambivalent about for the last three months. Tell your roommate you don’t want her inviting her friends over anymore. Start a fight in your group chat about the ethics of outdoor dining. Post a passive-aggressive Instagram story about how your boyfriend’s roommate’s choice in loungewear offends your delicate sensibilities. Tell a stranger on the train to pull their mask over their nose, goddamnit. And then, obviously, tell me all about the fallout. Life in a pandemic is alienating and scary. The beautiful thing about gossip is how it connects us all via our worst qualities: pettiness, nosiness, meanness.

I believe in living your values. Without getting too into the weeds — if you want the details, text me — I’ve committed to having the most chaotic personal life possible (within reason, all Covid disclosures apply) because, like, what else is there to do? I’ve begun rocking the boat for the hell of it. I recently slid into the DMs of a man three of my friends have hooked up with just because I felt left out. I got curved, but doesn’t that make for a better story in the end? I think of it as a public service. Everyone I know is desperate for even the smallest morsel of gossip. We’re all tiny Tims walking around Brooklyn begging for more drama. We have no control over the vaccination rollout, flawed reopening schemes, or the botched pandemic response. If there’s one thing we can do, though, it’s gossip for the greater good.

Gaby Del Valle is a freelance writer who lives in Brooklyn. She is the co-founder of BORDER/LINES, a weekly newsletter about immigration policy. @gabydvj

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