For the Thirsty Girl

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f the original iteration of “thirst” was a plunging desperation, this one is an uplifting affirmation. NPR traced its root, “thirst trap,” back to 2011; but Jezebel actually defined the singular “thirst” first in 2014, as lust “for sex, for fame, for approval. It’s unseemly striving for an unrealistic goal, or an unnecessary amount of praise.” This was the definition picked up in 2017 by The New York Times Magazine, imbuing thirst with negativity. But in the intervening years, women got a hold of it. These women, objects for so long within an atmosphere of men’s ambient lust, emerged to twist thirst from a cloying wish into full-bodied desire. Out of the wreckage of male toxicity, they used thirst to mark the men who remained worthy. There’s a reason Theron is still single — few men can step up. What’s more, in a world run by female desire, some are terrified of being left unwanted if they do.

He Sent Me a DM. How Do I Tell If It’s Love?


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In terms of advice, we could probably stop there. But that wouldn’t be very fun, would it? And if you’re anything like me, you’re at least a little interested in the why of people’s online behavior, especially in this queer digital space we live and languish in. So here’s one Twitter-addled, promiscuous homosexual’s take on the broader situation, take it or leave it.

Online thirst is a natural byproduct of social media’s general goal to produce desire: for a lifestyle, for a following, for human connection, and, sure, for stuff. All kinds of stuff. Instagram knows exactly what kind of stuff I want. They shove ads in my face of pretty boy models in mesh tops and billowy pants and, you know what? I want that stuff. I think that stuff would look nice on me and make me feel a lot better. So, it’s working!

But the point is, envy is the language of social media, and while social media is a great tool for meeting people and for throwing digital tomatoes at former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, it’s important to keep in mind that, by design, these platforms rely on a visual vocabulary of exclusivity. Or in other words, social media brands and personalities only work by being aspirational. You can’t actually have them or touch them, but they give the illusion that you can. That’s what we in the biz call “engagement.”