I talk about caring for a random person on the internet.
Allie Brosh recently updated her blog for the first time since the end of 2011, when she talked about going into depression. The post immediately previous to that one was some 6 months earlier talking about how she was going to write a book. I’ve talked about the asymmetrical nature of the relationship between an ordinary person and the celebrity before, but in the case of Allie Brosh, that relationship rings especially true.
For me, and probably for many others (a few thousand, judging by the comments), there’s a chunk of our brains dedicated to Allie Brosh as it would be to a distant friend, even though she holds no such part for us — I’m not blaming her, that’s the nature of this sort of relationship. Every now and then I’d find myself thinking how the book was going, and after the end of 2011, how Allie Brosh was going.
Don’t get me wrong, I worry and think of my real friends more, but on the same scale as you would think of a close acquaintance, I worried for her, too. I’m not the only one, as there was a Reddit post asking if anyone knew how Allie was doing after her post on depression. Allie responded saying she was doing OK but still struggling. The post today was something of a watershed moment. Every few months I’d remember and want to know how everything was with Allie, but to no avail.
Allie hits close to home for me, because of the way she eloquently, and entertainingly, describes her life. Whether it is moments from her childhood or recent adult life, she gives you sense of being there, in the drama and chaos of the moment. The way she tells her stories, you don’t feel like a fly on the wall so much as a member of the family. The hyperbole isn’t the kind you get from repeated re-tellings of a story, rather the way memory and closeness removes the detail, but keeps the essential portions, making them more vivid, hyper-real. They embed themselves in your mind. You understand her life, her dog, her attitude.
But we don’t understand her at all. She publishes what she chooses to. To some extent it is for entertainment, but she likely also has a side to herself she wouldn’t show on the internet. The depression just hints at a person we’ll never know. When watching TV or even reading things on the internet I try and keep the asymmetrical nature of the relationship in mind, but in the case of Allie Brosh I’ve failed. I care. And maybe this just makes me a pleb, but I hope she’s OK. For my sake.