Do I open the Twitter account “Am I the Asshole”?
This lockdown has revealed to us, and to those living with us, sometimes confronting truths about our deeper natures.
People who had no intention of being so closely quartered have been thrown together by necessity and have spent more time, more intensely, with each other than maybe they ever have before.
It’s one way to cement a relationship. It’s also one sure-fire way to burn the whole damn thing to the ground.
This addictive, astonishing and sometimes quite unbelievable account (and there are many who think quite a deal of it is just made up) allows people to post to Reddit a personal dilemma about their behaviour which can then be discussed and voted on. The Twitter account @AITA curates some of the most intriguing.
It turns out COVID-19 has brought about a global, real-time laboratory-condition series of psychological experiments that are now being written up — not by Harvard professors, but by freaked-out or deeply guilty partners in an all-access online forum.
Journalism may be the first draft of history, but these posts are most certainly the key documents of a major sociological phenomenon.
Some of the dilemmas are staggering. AITA for permanently deleting my girlfriend’s Instagram account? For storming out of a dinner because they put potatoes in the chilli? For being mad that my boyfriend dedicated his book to OJ instead of me? For asking that my neighbour not bring her screaming baby outside? And in one of the greatest examples of narcissistic personality disorder you’ll ever read, for taking my girlfriend’s secret poetry that she doesn’t want read and publishing it as a song?
So many of the problems arise from two people suddenly living together.
They bring their stuff — dolls, oversize soft toys, poetry, a total lack of maturity or empathy — and dump it all into the middle of a relationship that’s just not ready for it. Or ready for anything at all.
There are the man-babies, and the mean women and the selfish fathers, and punishing mothers.
And while some of the posts are genuinely distressing cries from the heart — the wife who just wants her husband to get off the video games and look after their six-month-old — others are the primary material for what should become a modern treatise about a generation of people raised to be breathtakingly selfish.
Yes, a lot of it is hilarious, but a great deal is also a fascinating insight into the biggest challenge that we all find ourselves in: where do my needs come right now? First or behind someone else’s? Am I capable of re-ordering them?
Check it out. Be as judgy as you like — that’s what’s it about — but then take a moment and ask yourself: are you one of them?