c.2018, Grand Central Publishing
$27 ($35 Canada)
256 pages

You sat down to check your email.

And there you were an hour later, still logged on. Your email was checked but then you watched a newsfeed, four kitten videos, posted three opinions, RSVP’d to two grad parties, and wasted 60 minutes. And judging by the new book “Well, That Escalated Quickly” by Franchesca Ramsey, you got off easy.

The internet was practically a toddler when Franchesca Ramsey posted her first YouTube video, a tutorial on hair. That was in 2006, just a year after YouTube was founded; before then, Ramsey secured her own domain name and had already blogged about her life, so she knew her way around the web and the drama and trolls that go with it.

Six years later, she finally found fame through a video she calls “SWGSTBG,” which took advantage of a craze lampooning racism. That millions of people saw her video in a very short time was a surprise — a pleasant one that led Ramsey to look for new ways to make it as an online entertainer.

She was the star of other videos, but they didn’t have quite the appeal as SWGSTBG. She won a YouTube contest, and a weeklong series of classes-as-prize let her learn from the pros. Another contest allowed her to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite and hone her interviewing skills. By this time, Ramsey had an agent, cash in the bank, and a strong online presence.

She also had internet trolls, who hurt her feelings day after day. She says she spent many hours in workplace bathrooms, crying, until literally, Ramsey had the last laugh: after a disastrous “Saturday Night Live” tryout, she landed an MTV show and a gig as a writer for a Comedy Central series while she continued to boost her presence online. Today, she’s a comedy writer, social justice advocate and MTV host, and though she cautions that she’s not an expert on the subject, she offers this: there’s a way to avoid racist terms, misogynistic words and accidental offense. Trying to get it right is absolutely worth it.

So you’re not all that into computers, and social media is a foreign language. That’s the first thing you’ll want to know about this book: it’s steeped in web-ese, so “Well, That Escalated Quickly” may not be for you.

But then again, while internet natives will eat up the memoir and backstory of an online personality they’ve come to enjoy, the latter part of this book is different: it’s more about the social justice, equality, and dealing-with-racism side of author Franchesca Ramsey’s life. This is, in fact, where Ramsey does magic, explaining nuances, new meanings and unintentional hurts from language and attitude. It’s where anyone, from any angle, can learn to do no harm.

For Ramsey’s millions of fans, this book will be a true delight and an insight to their favorite star’s life. If you’re not so versed but still need the social justice aspect of what it so thoroughly teaches, then “Well, That Escalated Quickly” is a book to check out.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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