Digital Divas is a column written for the internet, by Yung Klout Gang's Lina Abascal, a girl who loves the internet. It's about young women who (similarly to Lina) have created online personas that have attracted thousands of fans and followers. These are spokeswomen for the emoji-speaking Tumblr-dwelling generation, where thousands of miles of distance can be spanned with a few clicks. Musicians, designers, writers, photographers and more make up a community of global tastemakers and cultural commentators representing the famous motto “girl power” on the world wide web.
The name Molly Soda is almost synonymous with the term ‘Digital Diva.’ Her septum piercing, affinity for Taco Bell, pouty mouth, and friendship with her pet rats drew thousands of online spectators to watch the Puerto Rican-born Chicago resident divulge the perks and pains of being a post-grad opting out of the 9 to 5.
Often pigeonholed as another undeserving recipient of internet fame, Molly has recently released two zines, and an online store re-selling thrifted items and her own clothing to fans around the world.
While she grew her fame by using the internet to her advantage, separation between online and real life has become increasingly important to Molly. Now she would rather spend her time in the passenger seat sippin’ on Baja Blast than livestream herself for ten hours (again.)
You are sort of the poster girl for Tumblr since its prime. What have you mostly been using as an online outlet since then?
It's funny that you say "prime of Tumblr," it's kind of true though. I think Tumblr as a website peaked maybe a year or two ago and now things are slowly declining. For me personally at least, I don't use the website nearly as much as I used to. Tumblr existed as a security blanket for me, somewhere where I could project all of my crazy displaced emotions and needy feelings in exchange for some sort of validation in the form of "likes" and "reblogs." I still do that to some extent but I think for the most part my relationship with Tumblr and the internet has matured. I use Tumblr more as a tool and less as an outlet.
I know you made a zine, what was the content based around? how did that idea come to you and how has it been?
My two most recent zines, do you like me, like me? and luv in my void are kind of like a weird curation of gifs/stock photos/random google searches/webcam pictures… perhaps like a stylized and more thoughtful version of my Tumblr but physical… on paper. As an artist who really only creates work that exists on a computer screen (websites, videos, gifs, etc.) it's nice to make something that I can hold in my hand and physically give to people.
You created an online store that was a big success. How did you select what went into it? What type of people were the buyers? Is this something you're continuing?
I'm actually shocked at how well Pottymouth did when we first opened. I started the store with my good friend Simon. We were just sort of trying to sell stuff out of my closet initially and then started going to thrift stores together and picking out stuff we thought was cool. We've gotten buyers from all over the world, a lot from Australia actually. I'm definitely planning on continuing and expanding the store. I secretly want to sell everything I own because clothing and "things" have slowly become less important to me.
How do you feel about the idea of how easy and common it is for people to become so known online for not really "doing anything"? Do you see this as any different from how mainstream culture idolizes people like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton for no reason? Do you think there's validity to this fame?
I hate that. I hate it when someone asks me what I "do," like your job is supposed to define you or something. I'm doing me, you're doing you, some people are better at getting attention for it than others. There's no shame in that.
You live in Chicago. Where are you originally from? How do you think these locations have molded you?
I'm kind of all over the place. I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I grew up in Bloomington, IN. I moved to New York to go to college and then moved to Chicago summer of 2011, after I graduated and have been living here since.
Growing up with very Puerto Rican parents in the middle of Southern Indiana is pretty wild. I remember being so embarrassed when they would display their huge Puerto Rican flag in our front yard every fourth of July, although now I think it's kind of rad.
Moving to New York not knowing a single person and not having ever really been to the city or in a real city before was terrifying but made me grow up really fast. Everywhere I've been has shaped me. It's important to keep moving and never get too comfortable. I love Chicago as a home base, but I don't want to be here forever or all year round necessarily.
How much of your life would you say is "online"? Do you try to separate your URL and IRL life? How much crossover is there, and how has this gotten potentially weird?
I've gotten much better about separating my IRL from my URL, although there is always going to be a crossover. I've always been really into revealing everything and nothing at the same time.
I only really try to separate stuff when it involves other people. I’ve hurt or been disrespectful to others in the past because I share so much on the internet and I don't need strangers on the internet involved in my personal relationships anymore. That doesn't make anyone (including myself) feel good in the long run.
Online relationships: how do you feel about them? Have you ever indulged in this? Do you like Catfish?
I've never had a strictly online relationship, like I've never met someone on the internet and then started dating them. I don't think this counts but I did convince some dudes I met on Chatroulette to drive to my hometown and hang out/go swimming with me one summer, and they totally did! I knew they were gonna be pretty rad though since they were wasted singing Fleetwood Mac at the top of their lungs when I found them on Chatroulette. Also I have no idea what Catfish is and I'm kind of too scared to look it up.
Digital Divas is sorta my place to display cyber feminism. Would you say you're sort of a feminist? How do you express that?
For sure. I think feminism is a pretty basic concept. I don't feel so much that it's like this whole women vs. men thing that a lot of people make it out to be. I think it's about women supporting other women. Girls are pitted against each other all of the time and it's usually over a boy. You see it everywhere, music videos, movies, songs, whatever.
"Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me," - Pussycat Dolls
"She wears short skirts I wear t-shirts, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers," - Taylor Swift
Girls saying they only hang out with boys because other girls are too "dramatic" or "crazy" or whatever.
You catch my drift? I'm so not down with that and it's not like I'm not culpable. I've participated in "girl hate" more than I'd like to admit. It's something I think all of us ladies can work on and something I actively try to talk about and project via the internet lately.
You've exposed yourself and your life online, how has this helped you and how has it hurt? do you feel like the community of people you communicate with online is more present in your life than IRL?
Sometimes I feel like the internet has gotten me "further" than going to college ever did. Anything that has "hurt" me has only made me a better person. No regrets, you know?
My URL community is only as present as I let it be. It's easy to "unplug," turn off your phone, not look at computer screens. Your real life is always there, it's always present whether you like it or not.
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