When I first posted about Tricia Walsh-Smith, who took her divorce woes to YouTube in a video rant that featured, among other tidbits, ugly details about her sexless marriage, readers suspected a hoax. And why not? The Internet is like a friend who travels with a whoopee cushion; it is never to be fully trusted. After all, wasn't Walsh-Smith a playwright interested in self-promotion? Wasn't this edited video a bit too packaged? Weren't her eyes a little wild, her attacks just a tad over the top?
Turns out, some people really are that desperate.
New York magazine has the first profile of "the YouTube divorcée," which includes the eye-rolling detail that she is (go figure!) in "serious talks for her own reality show." But the story also manages to get behind the woman who has become a caricature, a joke of the spurned spouse. In that first post, readers scolded me for a lack of sympathy; looking back, I tend to agree with them. I cringe at the way Walsh-Smith took her divorce proceedings public, and it makes me ill to think that she represents a future in which bitter exes scream and break plates on the Internet while the rest of us sip our morning coffee, watching on the screen. I strongly suspect there were better avenues than this. But she is also a human being in terrible pain. An excerpt from the end of the New York profile:
"When her alcoholic auto-mechanic brother Kevin lost everything in a divorce, he hanged himself. She is preoccupied with thoughts of Kevin, his failures. 'I'm basically going to go bankrupt. I'm going down the toilet and nobody gives a shit!' she says, weeping …
"It's a life now drowning in the undertow of paranoia. Every time a video goes up, she lies in bed the following morning, paralyzed with fear. 'This whole thing is making me want to throw up. My dream was to get my plays up, for people to say she's not a dumb blonde. If you read my stuff, it's really thoughtful. I mean I read the philosophers and all that. Do you really think I want to do bloody YouTube?' But the world is still having quite a bit of fun with her, nearly four million hits and counting."