"There’s something about the frustrated desire of the poet that mirrors Spencer’s own desire to occupy and play with the public’s attention," Wittig told Kate Durbin in an interview for HTML Giant.
The most valuable currency of both the Internet exchange and reality television is proof of sincerity, scenes of someone either crying or yelling, two primary emotions that are difficult to fake, and which require the least personal connection to be scrutable on another person.
"People are enormously sophisticated in reading facial expressions and body language—a huge amount of real estate in the brain is devoted to decoding super-subtle variations in these signals—and I think the vast majority of people instantly know the difference between fake crying and real crying, even if they can’t articulate it," Wittig said. "...I think people become junkies for 'the real thing,' their habit gets bigger and bigger, they get very picky, very hard to satisfy."
But there's a subconsciously defensive nature to this pickiness because it comes along with an acknowledgement that wherever the aspect of realism appears it will cause an irrational rush to judgement. There is something fearsome about knowing one has a bullrushing carnivore inside, and so there has emerged an equivalent anxiety about revealing it. Even if the prompting act or statement is genuine, the audience's proportional sense of how it fits with the person as a whole inevitably condemns them more than their target.
And so our communal spaces of rhetoric like Twitter become virtual bullfight arenas. They are made up of self-aggrandizing chaos junkies like Pratt fueled by the collective hatred of a million strangers, aiming their horns at a veil, the silhouette of a body behind it always turning into empty space just at the moment we'd thought we were drawing blood.
Michael Thomsen is Complex.com's tech columnist. He has written for Slate, The Atlantic, The New Inquiry, n+1, Billboard, and is author of Levitate the Primate: Handjobs, Internet Dating, and Other Issues for Men. He tweets often at @mike_thomsen.