I amble toward the grocer’s with nothing in mind but pastry. Then you catch my attention as a trending topic. Sad Boy, you so ingeniously titled it, is a few seconds of a preteen boy crying. Your clever helvetica type in 24 point font blares: SAD BOY IS SAD.
My pastry heated and my coffee cooled, I glide through my social media to find SAD BOY IS SAD used for everything from an assault on masculinity to an assault on being the only woman in the board room. It is used to express people who whine and people who have cancer. It is used to mock, to shame, to isolate, to goad.
Back in my loft where I should be writing the next great American novel, I search SAD BOY IS SAD. Who is this boy? How old is this video? Why is he sad?
Then, #sadboysmatter. Followed by #sadgirlsmatter.
Not attempts to humanize the preteen crier. Rather target-splitting hashtags to further gender wars and ridicule.
A search yields the raw video in which the boy rails, screams, kicks, and headbutts the wall.
Adult parodies of the raw video.
Mutations of SAD BOY IS SAD.
One glaringly draws a thick, disorderly line through SAD in both instances, replacing it with SPAZ so that the video now shouts SPAZ BOY IS SPAZ.
But who is this boy? What makes his crying such a touchstone for overwrought angst across generations, borders, and categories of the trivial? Should I care?
The sun sets, my novel remains unwritten, and I close all browser windows. I erase all cookies and other evidences of my afternoon obsession. I still don’t know who Sad Boy is.
I make an effort to delete the cookies from my mind, too.
But Sad Boy remains my constant companion.