This piece was written for the Blog Battle Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘precious’.
Karen trawled the internet constantly, often feverishly, in search of evidence that the world was conspiring to bruise her soul at every turn. She was rarely disappointed and lived in a constant state of distress, a state she lamented to her ever-diminishing circle of online ‘friends’, her real-life friends and family having long since departed the scene. She saw this as proof-positive that the world was a cruel and oppressive place for one burdened with her natural God-given delicacy.
She had little time for others with the same affliction and affectations and would happily join in the chorus of ‘suck it up, snowflake’ abuse that their posts engendered. She saw herself as the embodiment of ‘the last guy’, made famous by Arlo Guthrie’s request of us to ‘think of the last guy. For one minute, think of the last guy. Nobody’s got it worse than that guy. Nobody in the whole world.’ Except that Karen was a woman, which made being last even more intolerable and tragic.
Over time, she began to realise that her scattergun approach to attracting sympathy was simply not gaining her enough attention. She needed to find a way to harness an army of put-upon kindred souls that would one day crown her as the Queen of Outrageous Misfortune.
Slowly she crafted a conspiracy theory that centred on a Government plot to de-sensitise the citizenry to the daily assaults on their delicate and precious sense of self. She called it the Toughen Up Plot (or TUP) and her acolytes became TuPpers, who brought forward endless stories of callousness that led to the scars known as ‘TUPper wear’.
The first to join in were the left-handed Catholics, closely followed by the victims of ‘blue and green should never be seen’ tyranny. In quick succession, they were joined by people not covered by LGBQTI+ categories such that they questioned whether in fact they existed as sentient non-binary beings, vegans traumatised by ads for butcher shops, lottery losers not offered grief counselling and comfort dogs, University students in therapy because their lecturer mentioned a writer who was not ‘woke’ and mothers who breast-fed in public who felt blanked because no-one told them they were offended, and the list kept growing.
Within hours, Karen had won the Internet. And then, suddenly, within minutes she had lost it. She had succumbed to Andy Warhol Erasure Syndrome – Optimum Media Extent (aka AWESOME). She had made the fatal mistake of becoming famous for 15 minutes and her time was up.
But, just as she thought all was lost, along came Covid and she was back in the fray, asserting her sovereign right to be an unvaccinated super-spreader and screaming her One World Government conspiracy slogans into the cameras for the Six O’Clock News.
Finally she understood her precious gift for eternal preciousness. And she lived happily ever after.