It feels as if we've never known a time when Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston did not walk hand in hand, grinning smugly at the ground, to and from various types of aircrafts. But it was a mere three weeks ago that Taylor and Tom put on closed-toe shoes, headed to the beach, smooched atop a pile of rocks, and forever altered the course of history. As the new couple shook piles of sand from their his-and-her oxfords — they ruined their oxfords, I know they ruined their oxfords — the very globe itself shifted on its axis, its agog constituents taking to Twitter to make the same "Loki/low-key" joke thousands and thousands of times.
But somewhere, in some unidentified Spanish-speaking country, an unidentified person was taking more decisive action: launching an Instagram account by the name of @hiddleswifties. More formally known as Actualizaciones Hiddleswift, @hiddleswifties is a comprehensive database of every single photo of Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston ever taken. Probably. What matters is that it feels comprehensive. Fan selfies taken in Australian airports sidle up next to tiled collages that appear to be the same photo over and over again, but you're wrong, they're different. The all-inclusiveness of the @hiddleswifties account means that the quality of the photos varies wildly; in one, you can see that the top of Tom's forehead is paler than the rest of his forehead; in another, it's hard to tell if a woman looms ominously in the distance or has impaled herself atop Taylor's fence. The same moment — Taylor and Tom approximating a hug in the surf, for example — is rendered from multiple angles and perspectives so that you might know, for a brief moment, what it feels like to have Taylor Swift's sharp elbows digging into your biceps, or Tom Hiddleston hoisting you up by the ribs.
I followed @hiddleswifties a few days after its inception. I can't remember why or where I found it, but I do know that I can no longer remember life without it, nor do I want to. I don't know why I continue to follow it, or check it at least once daily, nor do I want to. What I do know is that I've learned a lot from @hiddleswifties — about the travel preferences and slim puffy-coat habits of Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston, to be sure, but also a lot about life itself. I will present these lessons — thus far accessible only to myself and the other 2,552 followers of @hiddleswifties — to you now.
Love is patient, it is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
The best thing about @hiddleswifties — what sets it apart, really, from the thousands of other Hiddleswift fan accounts that must shudder in its powerful wake — is its tone. Rarely effusive but unilaterally positive, never verging on covetousness but instead remaining quietly and staunchly supportive, the @hiddleswifties brand is one of fan service in the most literal sense of the term. The man or woman behind @hiddleswifties does not seek Instagram fame or fortune; first and foremost, @hiddleswifties is here to serve and inform its public. The captions are, more often than not, utilitarian: "Taylor and Tom in the beach today." "Taylor, Tom, and friends in the beach today." Sometimes — only sometimes — do they veer into soft editorializing: “Tom's t-shirt say ‘I ❤ T.S’ or maybe ‘U.S.’ but is more cute thinking the first.” The hashtags exist only to flesh out the scene, to help the Hiddleswifties identify supporting Hiddleswift players and to place each new Hiddleswift event within the larger Hiddleswift narrative: #Swifties #gigihadid #selenagomez #karliekloss #blakelively; #taylorswift #TomHiddleston #hiddleston #hiddleswift #loki #thor #hiddleswifties #hiddlestoners. The mysterious author's own personal bias is betrayed only in the heart-eyes emoji that punctuates many a sentence, or the rare "I'm dying," which recently accompanied this photo of a possibly actually dying Ryan Reynolds.
To assume is to limit the mind.
The Hiddleswift union appears, on its face, to be a paper-thin publicity stunt, a transparent and desperate attempt to promote both stars' future projects and propel them to Jay-and-Bey heights. Dozens of think pieces have been written on Taylor and Tom's alleged deception, speculating about whether the two are filming a very long and expensive music video or whether Taylor Swift is obfuscating the fact that she is getting it with Karlie Kloss. Taylor Swift's face does not help to dispel these notions. In nine out of 10 @hiddleswifties photos, Taylor is smiling the sort of smile one affects when one has just successfully hidden a hock of ham beneath their sweater, or murdered a vagrant for sport. But rather than hypothesize or condemn, @hiddleswifties offers another perspective on Taylor's shit-eating grin: "I think she looks happy." The person who runs @hiddleswifties is not afraid to counter prevailing opinion, to challenge the very notion upon which popular culture has rested for the past 27 days.
What else might we question and discover if we, like @hiddleswifties, were not afraid?
No sluts, no revenge.
This photo of Taylor and Tom glancing casually at a paparazzo camera as if it were an old friend — or a slow-roasted stolen ham hock — could mean any number of things. Perhaps @hiddleswifties is suggesting that Taylor is neither slutty nor vengeful. Perhaps @hiddleswifties is suggesting that, in a world without sluts, revenge would be impossible. Perhaps @hiddleswifties is suggesting that both the concept of sluts and the concept of vengeance are too esoteric, too subjective, to ever conclusively define, and as such should not be evoked in any form of behavioral analysis. Either way, an important lesson.
Change is difficult.
Though humans are biologically engineered to adapt to changing environments and situations, a drastic and unforeseen shift in one's life is often accompanied by fear, panic, and displaced aggression. Nowhere is this more abundantly clear than in the @hiddleswifties comments, where @mcavoyhiddles, a fan page devoted to James McAvoy and Hiddleston, regularly pops by to lash out. The first declaration of love for Hiddleston from @hiddleswifties was met with this cold declaration of war: "I bet you loved calvin, too." Astride the very first paparazzi-glancing photo is another scathing @mcavoyhiddles missive: "poor tom." Later, @mcavoyhiddles accuses @hiddleswifties of bandwagoning: "you only like him because he's dating your idol." Yesterday, @mcavoyhiddles posted a meme featuring Taylor choking Tom to death.
You can design little dancing 3-D people and place them on top of Instagram videos of those same people and set the whole thing to music.
I have no life.
A few weeks ago, before I had confronted the platonic ideal of Instagram, or understood that sluts and revenge were inextricable from one another, I was walking through SoHo to work. Tom Hiddleston jogged past me, sweaty and rangy, perspiration dripping from his half-tanned forehead like teardrops on a guitar. We made brief eye contact.
I am nearly certain that this is the only interaction that I will ever have with either member of Hiddleswift. I have spent several hours today and several other hours on other days scrolling through and analyzing an Instagram account devoted to them.
To confront and process this truth — the truth that I have carelessly wasted precious minutes of my mortal life — is difficult. It's painful. It's tragic on a Shakespearean level. The good news, though, is that I have already found the salve for this sort of deep, psychic wound. And it lies, as all essential truths do, in the bowels of @hiddleswifties:
Life is ultimately fleeting and meaningless.
Early on in the @hiddleswifties canon, a commenter asked @hiddleswifties what they will do with the account should Taylor and Tom break up. The response from @hiddleswifties is significant in that it clarifies the pointlessness and ephemerality of the entire account, but also the pointlessness and ephemerality of the universe itself. Most importantly, the exchange reminds us of the hilarity innate in it all, and also that you should never share someone else's nudes.
@exemotion: What are you going to do with this account when they break up?
@hiddleswifties: @exemotinal I don't know, but probably no share nude photos :)