"If you hear crying in the background, it's actually my dog, Pickle, not me," Melissa Broder says. She's calling with momentous news: After three years, she is publicly revealing herself as the author of the popular Twitter account @sosadtoday for the first time. "One of the ways I concealed my identity as So Sad Today is that I gave her a cat," she notes. "But I have a dog. He's sort of emo and kind of a libertine, but he's definitely not goth. He's the Morrissey of dogs."
Broder has chosen to remove her virtual mask because she is publishing a So Sad Today book – a collection of personal essays scheduled to arrive under her own name via Grand Central Publishing in March 2016. "People have asked me, 'Are people still going to be sad in March 2016?'" she says. "I was like, 'Dude, sadness is universal. Sadness is not a meme."
A published poet who has written three books under her own name (most recently 2014's well-received Scarecrone), Broder began @sosadtoday in 2012 as an anonymous channel for her unique brand of ultra-dark humor. It's gone on to attract 200,000 followers, including celebrities from Katy Perry to Miley Cyrus to Ezra Koenig, along with all the everyday tweeters who identify with Broder's despairing musings on anxiety, relationships and more. "It was born out of a really hard time in my life," she says. "As more teens started following it, it developed into more of a character."
Broder says the book will tackle the big questions: "Unrequited love, being afraid of your own emotions, fear of death and what is life? Like, what is this? I'm still perplexed." Its contents will include "a catalog from head to toe, and also internally, of every single thing that I am ashamed of," as well as "some manuals about attempting to exist in the world when you don't really feel like you're part of it."
Much like the Twitter account itself, Broder says the So Sad Today book occupies a space beyond traditional ideas of genre. "I don't think it's going to be a light beach read," she says. "Although, actually, I live in L.A., and when I'm on the beach there's often that expectation to be happy, and then you judge your feelings, 'cause you're like, 'What's wrong with me? Why am I not? It's beautiful, I should be.' So in that way, maybe it is a beach read, if you're having a existential crisis on the beach."
Broder wrote most of the book while she was driving around L.A. "I actually dictated 90 percent of it to Siri," she says, and notes the experience was very different from her process as a poet. "In my poetry, I never want anything pop-cultural or time-sensitive," she says. "I want my nouns primal. Whereas with this, I got to write about the fantasy of having sex at Whole Foods. That's the great thing about So Sad Today."
She agreed to break her anonymity as part of her deal with the publisher. "I was like, 'Am I ever going to be respected as a poet again?'" she says. "But then, as I was hemming and hawing, I got this text message from someone who had just put out yet another self-published chapbook, and it was called Flowers or something and he sent it with flower emojis. So then I was like, 'Fuck it.'"
Broder, who gives her age as "older than a teen, but not disgustingly old," says that she plans to continue the Twitter account indefinitely. "I need it," she says. "I'm clean and sober, and have been for 10 years. Twitter is one of my last remaining drugs, and I refuse to give everything up. I need the high, I need the fantasy, and I need the escape."
So how does she feel as she stands on the brink of a newly public life? Is she so sad, today of all days, or something else? "That's funny that you ask, because my cognitive behavioral therapist has asked me to check in with my feelings," Broder says. "I feel anxious, as usual; a little ebullient and high, because I'm doing an article with Rolling Stone; with a pervasive fear of the unknown. It's a cocktail!"