When they Fartlow, we Farthigh

When they Fartlow, we Farthigh

Meltdown May is a sacred time in the Twitter addict calendar. It’s a time of year that reliably fires off a series of synapses in the minds of prolific writers and pundits that produce bizarre outbursts, hot takes, and irreverent feuds. Though the month isn’t over, we may have already witnessed the gold-medal meltdown of this year’s observance.

Eve Barlow, a freelance music journalist, contributed a piece to Tablet Magazine titled “The Social Media Pogrom” that starts out like this:

I don’t know who crafted the first tweet that said “Eve Fartlow,” but whoever it was—bot or human—started a fire. Over the past two weeks, Twitter has been littered with the words “Eve Fartlow.” Every time I tweet, this title is the response I attract, and it is pelted at me irrespective of what I write. Hundreds of trolls, some with blue ticks and some without, just start responding to me “Eve Fartlow” (some people have recently switched it to “Eve Shartlow” but “Eve Fartlow” seems to be the one that sticks). If we donated a JNF tree to Israel for every time someone tweeted “Eve Fartlow,” there’d be no Negev left.

Barlow goes on in her column to bemoan what she perceives to be an anti-Semitic attack: masses of Twitter users replying to her tweets with a fart joke. She likens the replies to “a form of digital waterboarding” meant to drive her toward a form of “digital suicide.” In her article, Barlow bemoans being unfollowed online, rants against supposed anti-Israel bias in mainstream media, and alleges that Linda Sarsour posting a block trophy1 after Barlow blocked the activist was “a bat signal out to go beat this Jew.”

I’m sure that Barlow has experienced harassment and hate online for her takes on Israel and Palestine. Some of those takes are… provocative, to put it diplomatically. And anti-Semitic hate online saw a brief renaissance during fighting in the region earlier this month! But the music writer takes what could be legit complaints into a realm of seemingly unaware self-parody.

For many, the takeaway from her column was clear: “Eve Fartlow? Lmfao.”

It trended on Twitter.

I ran a quick search on a social media analytics tool I use at work to see how prevalent the mentions of this fart joke were. The data the tool pulled showed people had posted “Eve Fartlow” online more than 28,000 times this week, and charting the data made it pretty clear that the screed in Tablet did Barlow no favors. In the day after her Tablet column was published, usage of term “Eve Fartlow” nearly quadrupled online. (Though it had already picked up some pretty startling velocity the day before!)


If you’ve been enjoying the lighter side of the Fartlow discourse, you can largely thank @SAMOYEDCORE, who set this whole thing off. I had a brief conversation with them over Twitter DM. Longtime listeners of SH!TPOST may recognize them from a throwback episode about Meltdown May.

SH!TPOST: OK, so tell me how this all started.

SAMOYEDCORE: Being that I have a very strong stance against Zionism, I had, naturally, been paying attention to the events in Gaza and Palestine at large for quite a while, most especially at the time this took place since this was just as Netanyahu was ramping the aggression up. Given my existing awareness of the issue and the fact that I am terminally, hopelessly online, I've also been familiar with Eve and her particular brand of moral decrepitude in defense of Israel for some time, so it was scarcely any surprise when I saw screenshots of her latest batch of horrible, horrible takes make their way onto my timeline.

Between the workout I had just completed a couple hours earlier, the 1.5 grams of phenibut (a miraculous little drug the Soviets invented to inure cosmonauts against existential terror) I had recently consumed, and the mozzarella sticks I had just put in the oven, I was feeling very lively that night when, lo and behold, another Eve Take popped up on my timeline. At this, I was mildly surprised to find that Eve had not yet blocked me on this account.

I'm a little gremlin. So, the moment I find that somebody whom I despise has not yet blocked me, my brain immediately registers it as "it is your duty to annoy the living shit out of them until they cannot take it anymore."

I'm not entirely sure how "Eve Fartlow" popped into my mind, but it's very on-brand for me, I think, because (at least) half of my sense of humor entails fully leaning into sophomoric schoolyard insults to take the piss out of those who I find take themselves far too seriously. For all her posturing about wanting to "have a conversation," I was well-aware that Eve constantly had her finger hovering over the "block" button on Twitter, and thus saw that my mission was to see how many times I could reply "Eve Fartlow" to various tweets of hers before she would block me.

Three. The answer is three times.

She blocked me in quite literally under thirty seconds (I counted!), which is a speed that I didn't actually anticipate at all. Having triumphantly posting a screenshot of this encounter, I mostly forgot about it afterwards, but was pleasantly surprised in the coming days to find that "Eve Fartlow" was catching on enough as an insult and that Eve was responding to it, begging people to stop using it—which, as we all know, is always a winning strategy.

Were you surprised to find out that this play on the writer's name is being portrayed as some kind of anti-Semitic attack? I mean, that's just insane, right?

Only somewhat, and very briefly.

Renewed Israeli aggression against Palestine had already been the headline news for a couple of days at that point, so the classic refrain of "you just hate the Jews and want them to die!" was already being renewed in full effect in response to the slightest affirmation of solidarity with Palestinians or criticism of apartheid. Granted, I definitely should have expected that she would find a way to twist this, of all things, into some kind of vicious attack on Jewish people, but I never could have possibly seen "digital pogrom" or "e-waterboarding" coming.

It was a real delight when I woke up yesterday (Wednesday) morning for class and was immediately greeted by friends telling me that Eve had written an entire article on the matter. I was disappointed to find that she claimed to have no knowledge of who got the ball rolling in the first place, but I took solace in the knowledge that the truth always finds a way of revealing itself.

I ran "Eve Fartlow" through a social media analytics tool and found that people have posted those words more than 23,800 times in the last week.

Oh, fuck yeah. Fuck yes. But those are rookie numbers. We gotta pump that shit up!

How are you feeling about this now? It's a goofy situation, but did you have any takeaways?

It only reaffirms my hopes that the Zionists are losing the PR war. This has been a horribly tragic situation for the people of Palestine, but what I feel we've seen in the past few weeks is especial desperation on the part of Israel's most strident defenders, because they know the survival of their colony depends on keeping popular support among their American bankrollers. More than most issues, it really feels like our showing solidarity with Palestine against Israeli colonialism will actually have a tangible, positive effect.

That is, I feel, why the Zionist reaction to "Eve Fartlow" has been so goddamn disproportionate. They're losing their heads! Seth Rogen literally tweeted a single emoji and it caused them all to freak the fuck out! The situation upsets them more than most because their opponents aren't willing to engage on the same old, tired premises of "doesn't Israel have a right to exist?!" or "why do you support Islamic terrorism?!"

We're completely eschewing the bad-faith rhetoric they use to justify ethnic cleansing in favor of fart jokes. They're bringing out the most severe invocations of antisemitism that they can manage and we're just... not engaging. Again, desperation. It feels like a real shift has finally started being made manifest where common perceptions of Israel are concerned.

How does this rank in the Meltdown May cinematic universe?

I'm a little bit biased since this is finally a May Meltdown that I myself have personally had a hand in, but Fartlow has really gone above and beyond in the past month where consistently putting out deranged takes is concerned.

I'd call it top 5, maybe even top 3.

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