The internet has taken over human-kind, now we cannot escape social media, not even in stories!
And to be honest, I’m quite okay with that.
Look, there is no shortage of stories that depict the perils of social media and with reason since these are very real, but sometimes I just wish for a story that treats the internet like we do- as part of everyday life. In which friendships, romance and self-discovery can become.
I used to hate talking to my friends online or through texts however, when the COVID 19 attacked I had to quickly assess my assumptions. I started to be more active online, eventually finding the TYWI instagram page that let me become part of this awesome team.
At the same time, the internet cracked my egg by an array of subreddits in which I was able to discover so many different gender experiences that guide me through my own.
A few years back I got into fanfiction and quickly discovered a work in AO3 titled “Of leaves and Stars” by Irrationalmoony and LadyAmina, a wolfstar love story told through texts, that also made me see the more wholesome side of the internet.
It was with great curiosity that I read the first lines, there wasn’t any prose, nor quotation marks to indicate dialog, if it wasn’t because of a very clever in-character reason there wouldn’t have been even a name of who was speaking, I believe. It was just pages and pages of text messages between a transman! Remus & Genderfluid! Sirius living in 2016 instead of 1993.
The writers were not putting the username next to the text every time the characters spoke, they used a different formatting depending on the speaker, with dialog by Sirius in bold and dialog by Remus in italics.
By now I have read several texts!fics each one of them trying something different with the format:
Apart from instant messaging and other text-forums, authors are using reddit, instagram, snapchat, etc. to craft a story along with more known mediums like transcribed calls or news articles.
In “Something Just Broke” by BeatriceEagle (also in AO3) the author uses all of these forms to craft one of the most honest examinations at interpersonal abuse (more specifically, sexual assault) in comics, and what it means when a “hero” is the perpetrator.
“A story of systems, told through chats, texts, and transcripts.” (BeatriceEagle) I don’t believe the story would be as impactful or the themes as carefully crafted as if it was written with well-known prose.
As you can see, my two examples have been fanfiction as I have never encountered a story told only through social media in original fiction, however by asking the blogging team they have pointed me in the direction of the “Internet Girls” series by Lauren Myracle which is said to be the first of its kind.
There is another word to these stories other than Text!Fic…Epistolary. However it seems that in our literary canon Epistolary is reserved to a work in the form of letters, which is either an old-classic or historical fiction.
Text!Fics and other stories told through social media are epistolary novels (novella, short stories, etc.), I didn’t use that word at the beginning of the article because apart from being a new genre in this form of fiction, Text!Fics allows me to directly tie them into the world they lived in- the internet.
Epistolary works are one of the most interesting types of fiction, in my opinion, disregarding what makes the written form so special: an internal narrator. In them we are only left with the outward expressions of the characters, giving all of this material for us to interpret ourselves. In some sense, that is also what happens when we interact with social media, so is it that weird that when we marry the two, it can become something beautiful?
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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