Social media helped my aunt find her ugly ex-boyfriend from college and it helped a 25-y-o French fashion designer find her twin. For every “good” social media story, however, there is a countervailing “FML” one.
Whenever I open Facebook in my browser – I mean, like every five to ten minutes – I’m inundated with pictures of friends at concerts, at dinner, having fun in some context that excludes me. Facebook, essentially, has become a benchmark of my social life.
Seeing pictures of hotel bars and rooftop terraces only reinforces the shitiness I feel for not going out and summoning my inner socialite. I’m also reminded that my friends would prefer to hang out with other friends, which sort of makes me feel all “Hey, I exist. I have unlimited texting and unlimited time. HMU.” I would like to think that I don’t give a shit where you have dinner, but I do. I would like to think that in my idealistic, pretty world, you spend most of your time at home comparing yourself to reality TV contestants, but you don’t.
The truth is, I’d love to be the prom queen of social media (cue the hypocrisy). Nothing makes me happier than uploading a photo on Instagram, or checking in at the W, or both, but I only do it to convince others that my lifestyle is aspirational. Each like or favorite quantifies my coolness and adds hope that others desperately want in. I’m constantly trying to figure out why I feel compelled to share intimate details of my life online, but I haven’t come up with any authentic reasons. I like the attention? I like slowly crafting a persona that will get me invited to parties and events, where I can make friends who have friends that will make me feel cool and in? Everyone else is doing it, amirite?
My actual reality is very different from my social media reality. I spend inordinate amounts of time at home watching Queer As Folk and Parks and Rec, but you would NEVER catch me tweeting, “Omg! Queer As Folk marathon. BRB, buying chips and a frappucino.” Lols, I have to keep up the guise that I’m too busy eating macaroons in the park or clinking mimosas at bottomless brunch. I’ve conditioned myself to believe that it’s better to be mute on social media than to broadcast an idle lifestyle. The social media vanguard can be very unforgiving, after all.
I can’t tell if I’m venting or trying to make a point. Part of me is sooo jealous of my parents because they didn’t care if their friends were having dinner without them. They did things that made them happy, regardless of what their friends were doing. They didn’t feel as if they had to share their happiness with the world or publish a record of their most extravagant nights. They just lived.
Meanwhile I’m here, in the 21st century, trying to parse my own problems without feeling like my life is at a comparative disadvantage. I’m trying to isolate the parts of my life that bring me genuine happiness – as opposed to the artificial happiness I feel when I see a red superscript 1 hovering over the globe icon on Facebook.
I wish social media would bring people together without fostering a system that rewards self-aggrandizing content. It’s great to see that you’re doing well; now let me get back to my Queer As Folk marathon.