Stories, Community, and Fully Developed Brains
About a year ago, my friend Sarah Friday and I started a collaborative literature project called StoryDrop. The premise is simple: Someone writes the first page of a story on a little black book and leaves it—“drops” it—somewhere in the city. They post about the location on Instagram and, thanks to the magic of social media, someone else finds it and continues the story. The process repeats itself until, eventually, we have a story written by a city. So far, there are three books circling around Atlanta and we are about to drop ten more. IT’S WORKING! (intoned à la Dr. Frankenstein) and this makes me beyond excited, because of all the many nights I spent preparing myself for the imminent rejection the poor little book would receive, just sitting there unclaimed.
But it didn’t, guys! It wasn’t rejected, and I realized then that it was all thanks to community. People want to belong to something—I’ve found this to be one of the utmost undeniable truths of the Universe. I mean I’m only 25 and according to my mother my brain just finally fully developed, but trust me on this, y’all. When a person was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, maybe sitting in a cubicle and eating the chocolates they said they wouldn’t eat because of the New Year, and BOOM! saw the location of the book—and then, hold on, then, took time out of their day to go find it? That right there, is wanting to be part of the story—literally and figuratively. We all want to be part of the story, which brings me to …
Hi! I’m Natalia Castells-Esquivel and I’m the Community Engagement Editor for Real Pants. This is at the same time exciting and frightening for me. The excitement is obvious; I get to read the beautiful and sometimes hilarious writings of some of my favorites. I mean, have you read the nostalgic wonderfulness that is Sarah Jean Alexander’s “The Weather Report”? Or how about Leesa Cross Smith’s adorable tiny littles? Newfound love for baseball thanks to her, yup. And honestly, there was lots of excitement happening in my head when I realized I was eating soup while reading about how Kristen Iskandrian and John Dermot Woods were both really into soup. Obviously, this is an ideal gig for me.
But yeah, I’m also nervous because look, I’ve done it too—I’ve scrolled down to read the comments. Shortly after, I announced (on Facebook) that I would never, ever read the comments again because I had lost my faith in humanity. Proof:
I could stand up on my chair here and say: Hello, my name is Natalia and I have been comment-free for four months. But that’d be a lie (kind of like that Facebook status). I wasn’t sure, and the truth is I am an addict and I’m not ashamed, because I have chosen to believe that even though the Internet has created a baby blanket for assholes to hide behind, it’s also created a canvas for honesty. We can say whatever in the comment section, even if it’s just “that singing dog is STOOPID!” because we feel like we matter. All opinions are valid online.
Having said that, I hope Real Pants becomes a place where we can have inspiring conversation. It can be a place where we won’t dread scrolling down to the comments, but rather be excited for them to become part of the article. I want it to be a place where we can spell STOOPID with a U. That sounded like I was calling you stupid! I’m not, because you are all funny and beautiful and good spellers and I am thrilled to join you in the Real Pants story.
I hereby take back the intention to never read the comments, and further pronounce that I will read all of the comments (and I’ll announce this on Facebook as well). And if you still prefer to make your comments face to face, I’ll see you at the Launch Party this Saturday!