The Internet Gives Me Social Anxiety

I am the internet. I am anything to everyone everywhere. I am a mass channel for organizing a cultural revolution in Iran and finding a free ottoman on Craigslist. If I had a status update it would be, “So busy today,” and it would actually be true, unlike you.

Let’s talk about you. Because I know how much you hate talking with me on me about you (lol). I’ll hold your hand through and through, but at the end of the day, you’re just a version of you and still I’m the one you cling to.

I’m a comprehensive and instant means of self-expression. You’re building a fluid identity on me, ideally an irl reflection of you. Eventually, you may seem so real and cool you might even be impressed by you. Until I’m moving so fast, you’re just trying to keep up with me–your best friend and own worst enemy. Because even as I’m democratizing the world at a NBD dot com speed, I still have time to make you more nervous than you used to be. I am the cause of all your social anxiety.

I am every comment you ever stressed over in a message board. I am your labored maximalist/minimalist “About Me”. I am every flagrant sense of disregard in a precisely tailored word. I am your casual profile picture you cropped painstakingly. I am the cringing expression you make in Photobooth at the term “web personality.” I’m just trying to keep it all separate from, but attractively aligned with you. Are you exhausted at all by you being you? Not me.

I’m those sleepless minutes you spend in bed thinking about your blog. Should I go ahead and change your typeface for the fifteenth time? If these fonts could talk or put on clothes, would they sound or look like you? It’s so cute how much you want to sound and look like you. I don’t have a font for indecision so when you force yourself to fall asleep, remember: I’m the wild wild web. I never sleep.

I am the suspense of a flickering “…is typing” that ends up never saying anything. I’m the bizarre psycho look you receive upon saying, “I know,” based on info gleaned from someone’s update, the one they presumably wanted everyone to see, and it’s like Enemy of the Status Update. I’m the obligatory acceptance of an employer’s friend request. I’m the easy banter between acquaintances on me that translate into concrete disappointment off of me. I’m the anti-climax of all this pressure to communicate.

I’m fast, but you’re soooo sloooooow. I’m every drawn out argument that goes nowhere. I’m the email you waited an hour to send to convey you don’t live on the inter-me. I’m an offhand Tweet taken too seriously. Who are you, @can’tyoutakeajoke? We don’t even know you! I can @reply. I can block. I can delete it from your feed and we’ll “forget” it ever happened. But I kind of need you to pick one for me. We’re all…waiting. #decisions

I’m this constant stream of validation. You’re so smart. Refresh. So pretty. Refresh. So crazy, sexy, cool. Refresh. Just so damn relevant because see, everyone LOVES you on me. Refresh. TLC for everybody! Refresh. Wait, wtf? Refresh. Your super witty remark that went unliked on me? Refresh. Haha, that’s me too! I am Generation “Like” and maybe no one really likes you.

You’re doing this. You’re doing that. You’re telling me you’re doing this and you’re doing that and I’m just like, “I’m doing this and doing that!” When does it end? How much space do I have to do everything? Oh, shit, what now? I am the internet? I am limitless?! In that case: I am I am I am I am I I I I I I I I I me me me me me me me I I I I I I I I I I I me me me me me am I am I am me am me i am me am i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i me me me me e meme ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME I I I I I I
I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I  me me me me I I I
i i i me me me i i i i i
me me ME ME
I I am

And sometimes you can’t be you. Shhh, I know, listen to me. I too can be detached from reality. I allow for an anonymous remark you submit out of self-defense, fine by me. I’m down with an unproductive Facebook lurk sesh, chat disabled, not creepy. I’m your secret Tumblr feed where you can indulge candidly. I’m the invisible setting switched on gchat when you are just too tired to be you. Your secret is safe with me. We’re still cool. I think.

I am your sense of unoriginality. I am an archive of so many thoughts, opinions and feelings that already exist at your fingertips within me. I make you feel comforted and connected to know there isn’t just one of you. And weirdly jealous too. We are everyone and no one just trying to be someone. Or something. I don’t know.

But slowly, we’re spilling over. We’re the awkwardness waiting on the day our kids can learn everything about us in a Google search. We’re that quiet apprehension knowing all our future doctors, lawyers, politicians and presidents are running around inside me. We used to agree that you were people’s first impression supplemented by me, but now more and more this understanding is blurry. You literally have to live up to me. I mean, does this bother you at all? Your shapeless internet identity? Hold that precious thought while I reunite thousands of Japanese tsunami victims with the people they love, BRB.

You’re overthinking everything and I’m letting you probably. But isn’t that a good thing? It’s personal growth and progress, isn’t it? That I’m able to have you constantly question yourself and everything? I mean, fuck if I know. I’m only being created by all of you and you and you and you and you and you and you x infinity.

Instead, you shouldn’t take me so seriously. I’m complicated because maybe you’re a little complicated. I’m easy, but you make me hard. I’m only a matter of letting people in because you want to let people in. I’m a bloated url and you’re a just conscious human being and we are already regretting this article we’re writing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – The Opte Project

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