Part 2

2K 101 16

I gave my first interview as Emily Lindin in April, 2013. Soon after it went up on the She Does The City website, I got an email from my ex-boyfriend Charlie. He was the only person other than my current partner in whom I had confided about my idea, but I hadn't spoken with him in months. He said he had known immediately that "Emily Lindin," the girl posting her middle school diaries online, was actually me, and he asked if I'd like him to spread the word to some of his contacts in the media, in case they wanted to write a story about it in a more mainstream forum. I gave him permission to do so, but asked him to refer to me only as "Emily Lindin," not as his ex-girlfriend. A couple of days later, Charlie's friend and former coworker Amanda Hess wrote about my project for Slate.

When Amanda's piece went up on Slate, I was sitting in a hotel ballroom at a conference for arts administrators in Santa Barbara. I was working part-time as an artistic program coordinator for a non-profit organization and had been sent to the conference as a delegate to get ideas and to do general network-y type things. Suddenly, my cell phone dinged from the bottom of my purse. Then it dinged again. Seized with embarrassment at having interrupted the woman at the podium presenting about public school arts programs, I hoisted my purse onto my lap and frantically dug around for my phone so I could silence it. It dinged again. And again. The woman stopped speaking and cleared her throat. My fingers finally closed around my phone and I switched it to silent mode, but I froze as my eyes landed on the screen.

There were hundreds of notifications. New followers on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook were following, mentioning, and liking The UnSlut Project at a rate that seemed impossible. Most of them linked back to Amanda's piece on Slate. The first thing I did was toggle off my social media notifications. Then, when the presentation was over, I grabbed my purse and snuck out the back of the ballroom before the question and answer session started.

I just stood there in the small seating area outside the women's rest room, scrolling through the comments and responses. Although I generally knew how to navigate social media apps, I wasn't even particularly active on my personal accounts; I had no idea how to react to this sudden buzz surrounding The UnSlut Project. Was I supposed to be responding to these comments? Following everyone back? Retweeting?

I called one of my best friends, Sarah, who was working as an investigative political journalist in Washington, D.C. and who struck me as the best person to ask for advice in this bizarre situation. She didn't answer, so I texted her something ridiculous like, "SARRAAHHHH! I need your help!" She called me back immediately.

"What's up?" She whispered. "I'm at the office. Are you all right?"

"Yeah," I answered, "I just need to ask you about social media."

She chuckled. "Dude, I thought you were being attacked or something. I gotta go. I'll call you tonight."

"No, wait!" My cell phone felt sticky in my hand as I pressed it against the side of my face. I didn't even know where to start. "You know how I had a reputation as a 'slut' in middle school?"

"What? Yeah, I guess so." Sarah and I had grown up in the same town, but she had attended a private school and we hadn't really become friends until after my reputation as a "slut" had mostly faded. We had talked about my past reputation a few times back then, but certainly not in any amount of detail as adults. Now, her voice sounded slightly impatient and I knew I didn't have much time to fill her in before she turned her mind back to whatever political story she was working on.

The Secret Life of Emily Lindin: In Her Own WordsRead this story for FREE!