If you’re not one who could be described as “extremely online”, you may have missed the past week’s worth of discourse over something called “Who Is The Bad Art Friend?,” a New York Times piece that detailed a years-long back-and-forth, culminating in lawsuits, between two writers. Without going into another multi-thousand-word investigation, the gist is that a writer named Dawn Dorland decided to altruistically donate a kidney to a stranger, and in the process leading up to her donation, made a Facebook group and invited some friends, colleagues, and family to update them on the process. One of the people in that group was a writer by the name of Sonya Larson. Sonya didn’t seem to respond to Dawn’s news, and Dawn reached out to find out what the deal was (as we all do when the certain someone we’ve created a public social media post specifically for hasn’t liked our Instagram). Sonya took a while to respond, only for Dawn to later find out that Sonya had written a short story about a woman who donates a kidney to a stranger. Feels familiar… The kickers? In early versions of the story, the kidney donor character was named Dawn (Larson later changed the character’s name to Rose). The other kicker, because if you’ll recall, I said plural? Also in an early version of the story, Larson copied portions word for word of one of Dawn’s Facebook posts in the kidney group. A cease-and-desist, plagiarism allegations, multiple lawsuits, and a New York Times piece later, and it’s all anyone’s been talking about for the past week.
Again, if you’re not extremely online, you’re probably asking, why does anyone care? Well, the same reason anyone reads r/AmITheAsshole — this was an ethics question for the ages, mixed with the type of self-absorbedness only professional creative types can give. The question at the center was, who is being the “bad art friend?” Dorland, for trying to take down Larson’s career? Or Larson, for basing a story off someone she knew, not telling her about it, and ripping off one of her Facebook posts?
If you’re still asking, no seriously, who cares about this? Let me put it into perspective for you. Even if you’re not an ~artiste~ you can still relate to having a bad art friend. These are the types you’ll encounter in your 20s.
The IG Sniper
This sneaky little operative will volunteer to be the group art director, helping everyone pose for shots and giving the group photographer instructions on the proper angles. You think she’s looking out for everyone and doing the whole group a service, but really, she’s looking out for herself. That’s why she’ll ultimately post the photo where she looks like a model and your eyes are midway to blinking — not even fully blinking, which would actually be better! At least then you wouldn’t look high off your ass. And she totally could have blurred out your forehead pimple —you’re 99% sure she whitened her teeth in post — but she just left you in all your glory, blemishes and all.
The Rogue Tweeter
Despite having max 1,000 followers, your friend pulls decent numbers on Twitter. Every so often, they’ll go viral. But then you’ll look closer, and—wait. Wasn’t that some shit you said at your last group dinner that made everyone crack up? And, wait, that other viral tweet is totally from something someone else put in the group chat. In fact, the Rogue Tweeter is not actually funny at all, they’re just good at packaging everyday funny statements for Twitter. Nobody else in your friend group is really active on Twitter, so it’s not like this person is taking any likes away from anybody, but still, it would have been considerate if they asked.
The Group Chat Boomerang
The only thing worse than having your group chats subpoenaed and printed in the New York Times is — ok, you’re right, there’s nothing worse than that. But also perilous in the group text dynamic is the Boomerang, the person who brings every topic of conversation back to themselves. It’s good to be active and not a total ghost, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. Can you stop talking about that one time your dog ate a piece of chocolate and you had to rush her to the vet? Jessica’s great-uncle just died, and this really isn’t the same.
The Podcast Promoter
They feel like there’s a real hole in the dating/advice/general millennial opinion podcasting market, so they bought a mic during quarantine and started ranting about various unrelated topics into said mic. That’s whatever; the problem is they don’t just passively have a podcast. In fact, they have less of a podcast and more of a compulsion to tell you about said podcast. The times they’ve brought up the podcast outweigh the number of episodes they’ve put out. Which, by the way, they barely even edit because the audio sounds like it was recorded in an echo chamber inside a tunnel, their dog barks throughout it, and they’ve made a few yikes comments that you’re all going to pretend to ignore when they inevitably bring the podcast up again.
The Know-It-All Memer
This counts as a bad “art” friend in that memes are our generation’s art, probably, and I can’t wait until Crying Lindsay Lohan ends up in the Louvre. But anyway, your friend group might have a friend who’s very online (maybe the same friend who put you onto Bad Art Friend in the first place). Maybe they work in social media management, or they just don’t care about keeping their job. Either way, they’re on Instagram all day, every day. So when you send them a meme, they always reply back with some version of “saw that already”. This might as well be a criminal act. Nobody gets points for having their eyeballs glued to the Instagram app. Sharing a meme is not about who saw it first. Just double-tap the message with a heart like every normal person and be grateful your friends think of you at all.
Image: Julia Volk /Stocksy.com