Back in high school and deep in the throes of teenage angst, I found a Twitter account that somehow helped soothe my melancholy heart. The anonymous @sosadtoday dished up daily sentiments that ranged from generalized depression (“Me: hi, weight of the world: it’s your fault”) to romantic woes (“sext: vaguely invite me to something and then don’t text me on the day of the thing).”
The quirky, self-deprecating, existential voice behind the account immediately appealed to me and the millions of other teenage girls who just wanted an outlet to recognize and celebrate our romantic anxieties and generalized disappointment. We were tired of the optimistic pictures of life that romantic comedies painted, because they weren’t true to our experiences. Particularly in the age of the Internet, we sought validation in the form of a funny, sarcastic wit, and @sosadtoday gave us just that.
Reading the tweets every morning brought me clarity in a maze of hormones, but after I graduated I felt I no longer needed it. Although I always remembered the account fondly, I had not thought about it until this summer, when I read an article in The New Yorker about the genius behind the account, Melissa Broder, who had recently released a book entitled So Sad Today: Personal Essays. In 2015, Broder revealed her identity in an interview with Rolling Stone. Although her personal details still remained a little murky, Broder described herself as “older than a teen, but not disgustingly old.”
I was shocked and delighted to learn that in addition to being the guiding voice for millions of depressed teens, Broder was also an accomplished poet, who had previously published several volumes of poetry, my favorite being When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother. In the midst of exploring my own voice in personal essays, I eagerly bought Broder’s new book on Amazon Kindle and read it the same day.
In So Sad Today, Broder expands on the voice and character of @sosadtoday, exploring the manifestations of her anxiety and depression in the modern world. At its best, the book captures the horror and glory of the Internet age and its effect on depressed people — how it can be both an escape from reality and a safe space to explore one’s identity and feelings.
In essays like, “How to Never be Enough” and “I Took the Internet Addiction Quiz and I Won,” I was delighted to find the same funny, insightful wit that had captivated me at 16. Like Broder, though, I had grown some since that time and was able to step back and appreciate the ways I had changed and the ways I hadn’t.
Some essays transcend the narrow capacities of Twitter to explore the reality of coping with a lifelong anxiety disorder. In essays like “Honk if there’s a Committee in Your Head Trying to Kill You,” Broder sheds some light on her personal life experiences, helping build an identity that has been a mystery to her followers for so long.
Even for those with self-proclaimed high self-esteem and optimism, Broder’s book offers honest commentary about life in the age of the Internet that should be relatable for everyone. But, to be honest, both Broder and I would agree that there is an angsty teenage girl lurking inside of all of us. I promise you won’t have to do much digging.
Written by Sophie N.
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.