Luvvie Ajayi—comedian, social activist, digital strategist, and pop culture critic—is used to being the person who says what we’re all thinking but dare not put voice to. But even as she speaks to, and entertains, half a million readers of her daily blog at AwesomelyLuvvie.com, she realized there was a need for her to do more.
Which is why she decided to write I’m Judging You (Holt, Sept.), a collection of humorous, spot-on essays about the challenges we all face living in the Internet era.
“We need a playbook,” Ajayi says. “A guide to help people get a bit of common sense.”
New rules, in other words, for a new world. Like, for instance, explaining why posting pictures on Facebook of your dead grandmother being prepared for burial is not a good idea. “Did some of us get a limited-edition handbook with instructions on how not to suck? Was there a boot camp on decency that some people simply missed the signup for?” she asks.
The book is also an excuse for Ajayi to judge folks, she admits. Like the “dinner scrooges” for whom opening their wallets is always a challenge. And friendship—don’t get her started on friendship. “It’s a two-way street, and some people block the way like a parked U-Haul truck,” she declares. People like the SOS pals (the ones who only calls when they need something), the Flake (the one you can’t depend on at all), the Adventurer (who will one day get you both beat up or arrested), the Enabler (who will “yes” you to death), and the dreaded Lannister, the type of person, Ajayi warns, who “will stab you in the back and then they’ll use that same knife to butter their bread.”
I’m Judging You also gives Ajayi’s unique insights on hashtag abuse, e-behavior, and today’s hyperobsessions with pop culture, social media sharing, and reality TV—which she sees as the modern-day equivalent of the jousting ring. “The knights on horses are women in too-tight dresses wearing nighttime makeup at high noon. The winner is whoever can drag the other farthest by her weave before security catches her.”
The book isn’t just an excuse for Ajayi to mind everyone else’s business. It, like her blog, like the author herself, is a call to action, as well as commentary. She implores everyone to do something to leave the world a better place than they found it. “You do not have to yell,” she says. “Even a whisper of truth matters in an echo chamber of lies.”
Ajayi will be signing advance galleys of I’m Judging You at 3 p.m., in room MR1886.
This article appeared in the May 14, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.