Jessica Roy and Richard Blakeley
Word of my plans for the monthly Media Meshing soiree showed up on the speedy personal blog site Tumblr hours before I got to the party. I was bringing a 20 year-old NYU junior named Jessica Roy to the event and my former colleague John Rambow was quoted on Blackbook Chris Mohney‘s Tumblr saying Roy’s appearance was “likely to end in tears and poorly worded Twitters.” It had begun.
Blog posts and anticipation follow Ms. Roy wherever she goes these days. She became a blogospheric sensation for a few weeks this summer after writing a pair of articles expressing her disillusionment with the New York Media scene.
It all began when Roy posted a disappointed review of a live appearance by the editors of Gawker ladyblog Jezebel on her personal site. The attention from the post landed her in New York two weeks later where she denounced the “vicious” “New York Media World” after attending a party for the literary magazine n+1. Jessica said the writers she saw were “f**king fake” people who appeared to trade sex for writing opportunities and announced that she was “getting out” of the city for a while to study abroad in Paris.
Roy’s n+1 party piece sparked a massive response online. She received accolades and offers, but she also faced intense criticism from many of her favorite writers who rebuked her for “sneaking into” the party and made fun of her perceived naivete. Some of the biggest gossips on the Internet mocked Roy for writing that’s clearly in a style they pioneered. For Jessica, the experience was overwhelming and it reinforced her desire to leave the New York media world. Somehow, I convinced her to come out for one last media party before going across the pond. I wanted to see if a different event could change her view of the New York media community.
I met up with Ms. Roy outside of a Mexican bar on the edge of the West Village. She had taken the train in from her parent’s house in Philadelphia where she’s staying for the rest of the summer before heading to Europe. The first thing I said to her was: “Welcome back to New York.”
At the bar, I introduced Jessica to Gawker video editor Richard Blakeley, the host of Media Meshing. Blakeley gave her a big hug and “I just want to say that you went to the wrong party.” Jessica told Blakeley that he “made a beautiful Julia Allison” complimenting him on his performance in a video mocking another notororous internet personality. I could almost feel the various blog worlds colliding around me.
Next we spotted CNet editor Caroline McCarthy. She’d posted about Jessica Roy on her Tumblr. Caroline dismissed Roy, who she called “Miss Bangs-and-Eyeliner,” as a “cranky navel-gazing social looker.” I introduced them to each other. Jessica cut to the chase: “So you shit on me on Tumblr, let’s talk about it.” This led to a long friendly conversation that ended with the two of them exchanging email addresses.
I asked Caroline if it was awkward to bump into someone she’d slammed online and she said, “There’s a whole crowd of people on Tumblr who are viciously mean to each other and it’s cool, because I know all of them and we drink together.” McCarthy’s escort to Media Meshing was none other than Tumblr founder David Karp.
Karp told me that his site is mostly used “positive creative expression,” but that “in one particular social circle, we’ve collected a lot of New York users, it’s a clique like any other where you’ll see a lot of negativity.” Throughout the night I heard similar ideas. People shrug off the nastier interactions we have online as if the fact that the Internet allows us to communicate quickly is an excuse for rudeness and obsessing over gossip that is admittedly unimportant.
This week Huffpo editor Rachel Sklar and self-described microfame expert Rex Sorgatz were the subjects of posts on Gawker about their Facebook photos. Before we left, Rachel discussed the perils of microcelebrity with Jessica and said that “everybody takes everything a little too seriously” when it comes to online gossip.
As Jessica headed off to Penn Station to return to Philadelphia, I asked her if going to Media Meshing made her feel better than her night out with n+1. She said people were “much friendlier” but “it’s hard to say if I’d have gotten this response if so many people hadn’t read what I wrote.” Jessica’s time in the public eye has given her increased opportunities, but it hasn’t exactly changed her opinion of the New York media scene. In the future, she plans on showing that she can write about more than just parties. At least that makes one of us.
— Hunter Walker