The Notes app giveth, and the Notes app taketh away. Last night’s rumble between app mogul Kim Kardashian and Apple critic Taylor Swift — the latest in a long-running feud over an lyric from a song by Kardashian’s musician husband, Kanye West — began with a set of videos uploaded to Snapchat by Kardashian, showing that Swift had, in fact, approved a lyric she later disparaged. But it reached its apex a few hours later, when Swift responded with — what else? — a screenshot of a statement written in Notes, one of Apple’s iPhone apps, and uploaded to Instagram.
Notes statements are ubiquitous on celebrity social media, as the podcast Who? Weekly has noted often. They’re one of the true joys of the post-tabloid age — a perfect example of the democratization of social media, in which even the rich and glamorous are forced to use the same cobbled-together kludges as the rest of us when they need to publish a lot of text to a site like Instagram, which favors the visual, or Twitter, which has a character limit. Screenshots of Notes are quick to write, assemble, and distribute — which means their textured-paper aesthetic is often the sign of quickly composed PR triage.
But where Notes can be a godsend to celebrities in urgent need of damage control, it can also betray them.
Note, for example, how in Swift’s screenshot, the “search” link appears in the upper-left corner. In Notes, that link only appears if you’ve clicked through from a list of search results. (If she’d clicked from the default list of notes, the link would say “Notes.”) So why was Taylor Swift searching for a statement she’d supposedly written just last night? Is it possible that Swift was posting one she’d composed earlier in the year, at one of the many other moments when her feud with Kardashian reignited?
Now, obviously, all that button really indicates is that she has so many notes on her phone that she had to search in order to find it again.
The “search” link isn’t the only interesting thing about Taylor’s note. If you blow up the full-resolution version of the image posted to Instagram, you can see some faint text in the corner just above the Search button. If you scroll downward in a note, the text will move upward, behind the near-but-not-entirely opaque banner menu at the top of the app. As text moves behind the banner, it can still just barely be seen.
In other words, that text appears on the same note, and has been nearly hidden because Taylor has scrolled down. It reads “because it doesn’t exist.”
What does it mean?? An educated guess: “because it [the footage] doesn’t exist” is one of the many drafted lines of counterattack that Swift was discussing with her squad of celebrity friends and PR handlers, before settling on the statement she posted to Instagram. At the very least, Swift played herself by revealing that even in the midst of a celebrity feud, her supposedly off-the-cuff social-media response was constructed artifice.