Interview with Marcella Alvarez

1. What inspired or influenced you to write this piece?

I had in mind the work of media scholar Zeynep Tufekci. In particular, how algorithms on new media sites filter for more and more extreme content because it results in more clicks and thus more ad revenue.  In one interview she described the experience of watching Youtube videos as akin to “that friend that always out-edges you, whatever you do they’re more radical than you.”  So I wondered what this would look like if it was embodied in a person, and that’s what came out in this story.

Additionally,  I frequently consider how people externalize their labor of identity-creation. Whether the signifiers of your identity are your annual income, your horoscope, the higher education degrees you worked to get, or the clickbait quiz that told you your personality is less Truffle Cheddar and more Roquefort Cheese, these all serve as outward benchmarks to inform us who we are. Our social media profiles serve this function as well, however it can be easy to misrecognize images or experiences when they are quantified by the number of likes  or comments received. This is especially true for women and femme-identifying individuals where there is an added societal focus/objectification on one’s physical appearance, and external superficies easily become a stand in for identity.  Hence the  “She” in “Social Media She Monster.”

2. How would you describe your artistic style? What do you wish to accomplish with your art?

I strive for a cocktail of irony, whimsy, and optimism.  I hate narratives that are merciless and bleak in the name of realism. I want readers to feel like they are jogging down a mountainside, where there’s momentum, a little danger, but in the end it was a good exercise in agility and damn good fun.

3. Tell us a little bit about your current artistic projects.

Currently working on an academic, lecture-style podcast on the socio-political makeup of a world inhabited by shape shifting beetle-princesses, zealot assassins, and a half deer migratory species.

You can read Marcella’s second place winning story, Social Media She-Monster here.