oops we sold our souls to tiktok

by elizaligon

A pervasive demon lurks in our midst. Falling like a fog upon our campus, this is no monster that you can touch, smell, nor taste. It cannot be physically fought. Still, you can see it. You see it in the rapidity of the trend cycle and the reduction of our attention spans. It’s in that wavy checkerboard pattern that would scream “SHEIN” even if it was on a Gucci handbag. It’s in the strips of LED lights that now illuminate our campus. It’s in the shimmer of a fresh septum piercing. It’s staring back at you in the mirror, every day in your life as an undergraduate at UVM.

Things are different now, compared to how they were one year ago, or two, or even three. Everyone at our school believes that they are the main character— the only true individual. Perhaps we can blame the pandemic, perhaps it was only a matter of time until the Harry-Potterfication of the American psyche reared its ugly head. Hourly messages pummel your brain “if you’re reading this, this message was meant for you: you’re special <3.” (If you’re reading this: you’re not.).

Already, the presence of this specter has permeated almost every aspect of life here. The most striking, of course, was the consummation of this new reality at FallFest: the Yung Gravy Performance. Everyone in attendance recalls the vacant eyes of the students who made their way in hordes to the Patrick Gym on that fateful night. They were hypnotized by the power of Gravy, and this would be their initiation into the cult.

“Damn Gravy, you’re so viscous, so clean, and so delicious,” the new inductees monotonously chanted in perfect unison. Hands swung heavily in the air, weighed down by rings on every single finger.

Then Gravy’s eyes turned red. Not just Gravy, but the eyes of his “whole damn team” turned as red as Satan’s asshole after he’s been violently topped. Yung Gravy began speaking. It seemed like gibberish at first, but I recorded it, and played it backwards. Here’s what it said:

“Universitas Viridis Montis is dead. All of your degree programs have been shut down. From this day forth, this is . You will study moodboards, resin crafting, and ‘tell me you’re___ without telling me you’re __.’”

zoe wilson

The students readily complied; they had been indoctrinated for years through this seemingly innocuous app. Compounding the romanticized videos of Vermont camping trips and polar plunges with UVM’s move to early decision, the students never stood a chance. Our school is no longer a sacred place for stoners and skaters; now we have hikers and skiers who don’t do either of these activities on the side. There’s a new “girl” to be every week– sometimes she’s clean, sometimes sleaze, and somehow, she’s always Not Like Other Girls. What’s worse, we have these like,,, normal kids, who came to this school to like, study Environmental Science? IDK.

We all know that the on and off-campus housing crisis is due to an abhorrent uptick in student enrollment. But have you heard the stories of the students who didn’t find housing? Legend has it that they started camping in Centennial Woods one night, figuring that the walk to class would be similar to a Trinity Trek.

One night, on a full moon just like tonight, a pair had just put out their campfire and zipped up their sleeping bag, snuggling in for bed. They each slept soundly until one of them heard the crunching of leaves nearby. The footsteps walked in a circle around the tend, but the UVM student couldn’t see anything through the mesh screens. They feared being seen if they were to shake their friend awake or call out, and so they stayed silent and still. where near the tent. The student’s heart rate picked up.

They heard a sound. It was short, but they’re certain they heard it crying out in the deadly dark distance.

“It’s corn,” it cried.

The sound disappeared after that. The student tried to chalk it up to a late night hiker, someone going for an outdoor smoke or something.

The next day, there were footprints near the tent, but the site was mostly undisturbed. Then they saw it. A pumpkin. There was a message carved into it that read, “#stay- toxic.” Telling their friend about the night’s events and pointing out the pumpkin, both students laughed it off, sure it was a prank by a friend or something of that nature. They went to their music and biology classes, and didn’t think much more of it.

The next night, the process was much the same. The students put out their fire, zipped up their tent– this time remembering to also zip up the screen covers, to block out any monsters– and they tried to sleep. The footsteps arrived around three a.m.– this time, the first student checked their phone. The footsteps continued to walk in a circle for a while, getting closer and closer to the tent with each round. Then, two bright red lights appeared just in front of the flimsy “door.”

Another sound, “Oh no.”

What? “Oh no.”

Before they could think of anything more, “OH NONONONONO!”

Their bodies were never found.

The Lord has already cast judgment upon us. He has seen through your veil of ironic engagement with the app, he knows you are just as bad as the rest of them. If you’re consciously romanticizing your life and filming it, you are completely fumbling the bag. Our punishment has already begun; the only Kate Bush song that they play in the Marche is Running Up That Hill.

Our ignorance will be our end. This app will be the death of us, and not just because the exploitative human labor that TikTok uses to moderate content has resulted in an increase in suicidal ideation amongst these workers. Seriously, what good can come from a bunch of WASPs engaging with powerful magical traditions?

This has been said before, but the water tower endorses this message: white people should not be contacting their ancestors for guidance. Put down the sage. Drop the tarot cards as carefully and respectfully as humanly possible. Back away slowly.

Categories: eliza ligon, front page, october 25, zoe wilson

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