Everyone has a pervert inside of them. Not like that, in the spiritual sense. Some people choose to lay it all out to bare, some people repress it down into the depths of their souls. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Our inner pervert lies dormant until something triggers us to go full “Awoooga.”
Personally, the full moon to my wereperv is Page Six’s Twitter account. The tabloid vertical for the New York Post has One Simple Trick that for some reason makes me feel like a teenage boy googling the word “boobs” for the first time.
With stories that focus around an image of a woman (and it is almost always a woman) looking hot, they will tweet the headline and attach a completely unrelated photo. For example, in July they tweeted “Catherine Zeta-Jones does yacht yoga in sexy swimsuit” and the accompanying image was not Catherine Zeta-Jones doing yacht yoga in a sexy swimsuit, but instead a photo of her from the shoulders up, fully clothed, and smiling while standing in a firmly non-yoga position.
With this maneuver, Page Six forces me to ask myself, “Do I want to see a photo of Catherine Zeta-Jones doing yacht yoga in a sexy swimsuit?” The answer is yes, and now I must actively choose to click the link and brace myself for the sweet reveal of the hidden image. To my surprise, it is a video! The Chicago star is doing some kind of sun salutation. My life is made no better or worse for having seen this.
“Kim Kardashian hits the gym in eye-popping cutout swimsuit.” Eye-popping! How am I supposed to not click when they evoke in the copy the imagery of violent shock, physically painful awe.
Page Six does not always deploy this tactic. If you scroll through their timeline, you’ll see lots of tweets telling you that a celebrity is doing something sexy accompanied by photographic evidence that said sexy thing did happen. But those tweets mean nothing to me, and they make me confront nothing about myself.
I was on Tumblr for years. I am plenty used to scrolling mindlessly and suddenly being shown an image of a semi-covered celeb. But at least Tumblr users had the gumption to say, “I’m going to put literal pornography onto all of your feeds.” Page Six’s vibe is more like, “You wanna see something? Come in here and you might see some side boob, we promise.” The tabloid is asking me to make the decision to be a raunchy little freak, and I prefer to do that on my own terms.
Now, I am fully aware that this is a strategy used to get clicks. It’s working, and I don’t begrudge fellow journalists for doing what they have to do to keep the lights on. This is not about them, it’s about me.
Specifically, it is about me learning that what I want from an internet experience is hot pictures served up to me without having to engage with them critically at all. I guess that means I will be pivoting to Instagram.