Above, recently retired cartoon heroine Cathy. But the words are not hers (as penned by cartoonist Cathy Guisewite); no, they’re words I wrote on Twitter recently. You see, I am convinced that Cathy — over-the-top archetype of sad single gals in their 30s — is alive and well in the Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds of many gals like me.
I always liked Cathy. I liked her for the same reason I like Tina Fey’s character on “30 Rock”; for poking fun at the way modern single women in their 30s are viewed by society at large — to be subtly cringed at and pitied. I love the self-deprecating humor behind the Cathy cartoon because it’s the same type of humor that allows me to laugh at aspects of my own single experience that might otherwise only bum me out. How confusing men can be! The weird grooming rituals we perform before we’re going to have sex with someone new! The apathy over toning up before beach season! The sprouting of an enormous pimple the day of a big date! And, yeah, the fear that your biological clock might be running out of time just as a child star from, like, five minutes ago, is announcing she’s pregnant. (Above, a recent Facebook update of mine.) Cathy’s “ACKS!” made those experiences — as dramatic and (purposefully, in my opinion) cliche as she was — easy to laugh at.
Now that Cathy has retired, I’ve noticed many women, including myself — and not necessarily just single women either — using Twitter and Facebook in the same way. Here are some examples of recent posts that came across my social media feeds:
“Grr, I have such crazy PMS today! It’s time to eat Ben & Jerry’s and watch ‘Real Housewives’ in my pajamas.”
“Found my first gray hair! To celebrate, tonight I will drink a bottle of champagne and then take a nap on my bathroom floor.”
“Nothing is the same size as before baby! Not even my fingers!”
“I feel like I spend a lot of energy trying to impress guys who have no idea how to act when a woman impresses them.”
“Good news: I got to dance with a short guy last night. Bad news: his clothes reeked of cat urine.”
“One glass of wine and I already had a mini sobbing meltdown. Awesome! This stuff really works!!!”
Personally, I love seeing Cathy-isms flooding my Facebook and Twitter feed. I think they’re funny and entertaining but also relatable. And as a proud Cathy-ite myself, finding the humor in those moments when I’m overwhelmed by “dying alone and childless” paranoia, purging them out onto the web in the form of 140 character tweets or self-deprecating Facebook status updates, brings the pity party to an end a lot quicker than if I just kept it to myself.