Erin Dingle walked 12 blocks in the pouring rain to get her partner, Paul, the only gift he wanted from her first trip to New York City.
“I told him, sadly, that I could not purchase [it] at the MoMA gift shop,” she said.
So instead she trudged up to 725 5th Avenue in New York and immediately alighted upon her gift to Paul, her Instagram followers, and the world: an extended middle finger, outstretched toward the gaudy fake gold entrance of Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
“When I saw Trump Towers pop up on my phone map later on, I figured that I could at least gift Paul a photo of punk-rock visual dissidence by flipping off Trump’s gaudy gold and brass phallic monument to massive privilege,” said Dingle.
Unbeknownst to her, Dingle joined an accidental community of Instagram users worldwide—from New York to Chicago to Miami to Toronto to Las Vegas—who are channeling all of their rage against a racist presidential candidate toward the buildings that he owns.
Five people in the last 24 hours have flipped off Trump Tower in Chicago on Instagram, for example.
Last week, Nick Davis was one of them.
“We were about 10,000th in line for the Bernie [Sanders] rally, and the space fit about 2,500 people,” said Davis, who is from Kenosha, Wisconsin. “When we knew we weren’t gonna get in, we looked on our phones and saw that we were a half-mile down the road from the Trump Tower.”
So Davis, who’s a standup comedian, hopped in his car and took off. He took a couple of pictures, but the best one is him, back to frame, pointing two angry fingers toward Trump’s overcompensation in skyscraper form.
He’s not too hot on this trend—neither he nor Dingle knew it even was one—steering the country toward the cutting edge of political satire.
“I’d rather have people sit down with each other and talk about issues, and think, ‘Hey, why do I think that?’” he said. “I think it’s wildly optimistic to presume this would have an effect on a Trump voter.”
Dingle, however, is a lot happier to hear that people are increasingly turning to their phones to tell a “dangerous” man to F-off.
“A lot of the people that Trump wants to dismiss, evict, and deny basic human rights have survived a heck of a lot more than 12 blocks of walking in bad weather. And they deserve a lot more than a middle finger to back them up,” she said. “But it’s all I had to give. So I did—with fervor! And it was well worth it.”
She’s from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, anyway—a place that will be immediately affected, in some way, by a Trump presidency, but has no way to stop it.
Except, of course, with a middle finger on Instagram. She calls it a “renegade Saluting Swear Army.”
“I’m delighted to be part of that club,” she said.
Plus, there’s no better way to get a bunch more people to like your picture than rallying against a fascist Flamin’ Hot Cheeto on Instagram. Just ask Denny Mui, who walks by Trump SoHo on his way to work every day.
“With the recent violence at his campaign rallies, I thought, ‘Fuck it. Time to do it,’” he said.
There’s his middle finger, a not-so-tiny beacon to a tiny-fingered man. More than twice as many people liked his photo than usual.
“That finger is uuuuuuuuuuge!” said one of his friends.
“Like most people I laugh to myself whenever I hear this guy talk. He holds horrific domestic and foreign policies views, but my god, what a fantastic ball-breaker,” he said. “However, with the recent violence at his rallies, the laughter has rolled back and transformed into sighs of shame. Everyone knows the joke ended months ago.”
Except on Instagram, where the numbers say it’s just getting started.