C Letter Book Club: Rebecca Harrington's "Sociable"
Rebecca Harrington’s “Sociable” was not what I was expected and that might be a good thing.
Like Lucy Sykes’ “The Knock Off”, and Tia Williams’ “The Perfect Find” this quick fiction read offers valuable commentary on the current media landscape through an engaging story.
The lattes, hashtags, and odd social interactions I saw coming were all accounted for. But what was refreshing was how fair the author was to all the stakeholders in the clickbait era.
She didn't just address the perspective of over-educated and underemployed twenty-somethings trying to find a concrete definition for the concept of “networking” at an endless series of cocktail parties (present company included).
She also gave a voice to the parents who shuffled children to SAT prep, and sprung go French lessons only to have the people who were supposed to be their greatest accomplishments end up a generation of punchlines.
She also presented the viewpoint of the “traditional journalists” trotted out as trophies at new media companies so busy tossing around terms like “automation” and “disruption” that they forget to assemble a human resources department. She reminds us that after golden parachutes and dwindling savings accounts comes the humility of the fake news era where bi-weekly direct deposits beat out prestige and principles.
The protagonist (and the remarkable amount of she spends crafting Instagram captions) reminds us of the miscommunications that are a constant in a world where we have been trained to believe that everyone is in fact staring at us.
You want to sympathize with her. After all who hasn’t thought about what their gas-lighting ex would think before posting a gym selfie or caught themselves being a little socially awkward after a day of being glued to small screens? But the more oblique her online persona becomes the less likable she is. And that’s what makes her one of us. You might get tired of rooting for her but you definitely recognize her.
You and your communications degree tired of sleeping in your childhood bedroom? Or maybe you want to know if that old lady in the break room is in fact judging you. Escape for a few hours with Rebecca Harrington’s “Sociable” the payoff in the abrupt final scene is more delicious than the avocado toast boomers keep blaming for our downfall.
Check out more from Rebecca Harrington here.