Look, there she is! There she is again! Taking up absurd amounts of space on my newsfeed, all smug with her big t-shirt and Hydro Flask water bottle, completely at ease with her compulsive scrunchie-hoarding and ingenuous views on sea turtle preservation. She’s young, she’s stylish. She looks pretty much like your average teenage girl. But, oh no…oh no…she’s so much more. She’s a VSCO Girl. She’s journalists’ most recent obsession and she’s apparently here to stay.
What is VSCO, you ask? To some, it’s a chiller version of Instagram. To others it’s a sign of a society in decline and the impending apocalypse. However, what really gives this app its power is the way it can be used to understand and categorize a large cohort of diverse women. It’s crazy we didn’t realize until now that they’re all exactly the same!
Now, truthfully, I do love the idea of cross-sectioning off large swaths of the general population and dissecting their personalities and merit based on their use of a single mass-market product. (And honestly, I wish the media would more frequently fixate on these captivating characterizations…Trader Joe’s Merlot Moms, Rogaine Men, Clearisil Tweens, Wellbutrin Elders…I think we can all agree there’s a lot of journalistic potential here.) What really bugs me, though, is the extent to which the media has focused on VSCO girls at the expense of other app-loving young women.
Women like me.
For example, I have built my identity around – and find existential meaning in – my use of Google Sheets. I know, I know. It’s hard to believe. But, it’s true. Sure, colorizing and curating a quirky, fun-loving image of your life on VSCO is cool, but have you ever felt the endorphin rush that comes from organizing a chart of jumbled inputs by ascending order? Have you ever experienced the pure jolt of euphoria that accompanies a freshly generated pivot table?
Literally life-changing. Since my first use of Sheets I’ve completely forgotten the lost girl that I once was. Sometimes I have trouble remembering my name (I can only recall my Gmail address). In my dreams I don’t speak in English, but in formulaic functions. When the check comes and the waiter asks if he should split it, my friends are all like, “Nah, firstname.lastname@example.org wants to do that!” My identity is now so intertwined with the app that I cannot imagine a life in which it didn’t exist. And I know there are plenty of other women who feel the same way.
And that brings me to my main argument — Google Sheets is an app that has for too long been overlooked and its niche base of female enthusiasts are more than equipped to supplant VSCO Girls when their novelty (surely) wears out. Find the central points of my reasoning below.
Google Sheets Girls are more unique
VSCO Girls are in part appealing because the app isn’t completely mainstream yet. Meaning, for most readers there’s still an element of mystery and opportunity to be enlightened. And this is especially true for older generations — Aunt Deborah may have mastered the art of sharing counterfeit news stories on Facebook, but I doubt she has fully grasped the intricacies behind shooting, editing and posting a white-washed photo of her checkered Vans on VSCO! But, I wonder… for those who aren’t part of the spreadsheet community, isn’t the Google Sheets app just as new a frontier? I bet it’s even more unlikely that Aunt Deborah has become proficient in conditional formatting via mobile device!
Google Sheets Girls are equally beguiling
I understand how young women, bedecked in the latest fashion trends, smiling with youthful confidence, and haloed by the preternatural glow of their cell phone screens could hold a certain je ne sais quoi in the public eye. But, if virality begat by skeptical fascination is what we’re going for, isn’t there something enigmatic (even unbelievable…women and math!?) about a gal who can balance a checkbook, assess last quarter’s KPIs, and conduct a killer cost-benefit analysis — all from the palm of her hand?
Google Sheets Girls are more current
Are we really convinced that VSCO girls are an accurate representation of today’s youth culture? We all know Millennials and Gen Zers have already squandered their retirement savings on overpriced avocado toast, but we also know they proffer a more minimalistic, utilitarian approach to living than their Gen X and Boomer forebearers. And, if Marie Kondo has taught us anything, it’s that functionality and neat, antiseptic design sells. Get rid of your burdensome memorabilia and type up your memories in a spreadsheet, folks. If anyone embodies the milieu of today’s young America, surely it must be me and my ilk!
Google Sheets Girls are less indecent
VSCO girls have brought a myriad of indecencies upon our society. Yeah, photo editing and sharing apps are fun, scrunchies are cute, and reusable straws are great for the environment, but in the hands of a teenage girl, they become tokens of our culture’s abject consumerism. And, even worse, VSCO girls’ outfits promote promiscuity and are dangerous to men. When a woman’s t-shirt is longer than her shorts men’s brains short-circuit and every time they spot a spaghetti strap, a few of their neurons die. This is a sign that VSCO girls are probably the descendants of witches.
The Google Sheets Girl on the other hand…she represents all that is wholesome and earnest in this world. She’s diligent. She’s practical. She loves Merrell backstrap sandals and Moleskin notebooks. At her best she aspires to be a Steve Jobs, at her worst an Elizabeth Holmes (she really loves black turtlenecks — especially because they cover so much skin). She has all the makings to become the next viral stereotype – we just need to give her the opportunity. If America’s newest antagonist is the VSCO girl, then the Google Sheets Girl might just be our next savior.