I feel uncharacteristically moved by the Halloween spirit this year—the ghastly, chilling spirit, not the sexy-Mr.-Rogers-costume spirit, I hasten to add. Last week, the spirit manifested itself in an investigation of macabre. This week I’m drawn to cursed, a word that New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino notes “has become central in the online vernacular.” In her essay “How We Came to Live in ‘Cursed’ Times,” published October 7, Tolentino points to the Twitter account Cursed Images, an Instagram account called Cursed Shirts (defined by its creator as “bad shirts”), and a suspended Twitter account called Cursed TikToks (which posted “the cringiest of the cringiest TikTok videos ever made,” according to a DailyDot report).
What these accounts have in common, besides their image-centeredness, is “a sort of context-driven profanity,” Tolentino writes. She quotes Jenny Odell, the author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy: