Two teenage girls were engaged in a fierce battle to the death, high atop the Empire State Building. Their names were Lyric and Grace, and both were famous on the internet. As babies, their births had been the first ever announced via Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Now, a decade and a half later, they hated each other with a passion unmatched, and neither would stop until the other was dead, or in pieces.
How did it come to this? How did it ever come to this?
Later, when blogger-journalists and child services workers were picking through the wreckage of the event, many would blame the girls’ parents. Couldn’t they have announced their childrens’ births in a more traditional manner? A phone call. A note on some lovely pink stationary. A mass email from an AOL account, even. But no. Times had changed, and the parents had all been early adopters of new technologies. It had seemed only natural to announce the births of their children the same way they announced any of their goings-on to friends and family. For Lyric’s father, that meant a tweet from his iPhone as soon as the baby emerged (dauhgter lyric born! wow!). For Grace’s mother, that meant logging into Facebook as soon as she was in the recovery room, in order to change her status from “is ready for this baby to get here already!” to “is so exhausted but her daughter Grace is beautiful (21 inches 7 pounds 6 ounces!!)!”
If only their parents could have known that these seemingly innocuous birth announcements would send shockwaves across their friends lists. Everyone was immediately taken with the two babies, hungry for more information about them. The parents, like any parents ever, were only too happy to provide it. Every milestone, every funny noise or word or emission was posted and broadcast across the internet. As Lyric and Grace developed language and began saying funny things, interest in the children only grew. Mommybloggers wished their children were even half as witty. Soon, adoration of the children had attained an almost cult-like level. There were forums where people who’d never met the children, who didn’t know the parents, would discuss things they liked and didn’t like about Lyric and Grace.
And when the girls became teenagers, starting blogs and creating social networking profiles of their own, the fervor only increased. They were each immediately presented with an adoring public of thousands who knew everything about them. How could their minds have been expected to withstand such pressure, such attention? The girls fed off the popularity. Putting more and more of their lives online, watching their stats swell ever higher with each vlog about who said what at lunch that day, with each podcast debating the relative merits of the various boys they liked. As the personalities of the girls emerged and became more distinct, online debate about which girl was more interesting raged across the netspace. Each was desperate to become more popular than the other. They had never met, and yet they were sworn enemies before either of them had graduated from high school.
As the girls grappled high above the mean streets of New York, the bloodthirsty crowd gathered online, each side supporting their champion by decrying the other side as being retarded, the comments written all in caps. The event was sponsored by Google and TechCrunch, although no one was entirely sure how that’d happened. Amidst the flurry of impassioned commenting and trolling, there were murmurs here and there, vague details about similar situations from the recent past. Some said that the two boys whose births had been the first ones announced on Flickr and del.icio.us had died in a car crash in San Francisco, in a game of Chicken gone horribly wrong. Someone remembered the story of a girl who had committed suicide recently; hers had been the first birth announced on MySpace, but no one had ever noticed. And wasn’t the Pownce kid in juvie?
It seemed a victor had emerged at last. One of the girls –it wasn’t clear which yet– was falling through the air, flung by the other from the observation deck. As the excitement of the onlookers rose to meet her, so too did the noiseless resentment of everyone whose birth had been announced too late, after the novelty of the new applications had worn off.