Imagine the scenario: I’m laying across my apartment floor using the cordless landline to my left to call my mother because it is more dramatic than a cellphone and connotes a fresh sense of urgency. I’m shrieking and frustrated, effectively forcing my body out of commission as if this is the only way to tell it to shut down.
I’m telling my mom I think I’m a failure, that I can’t handle what is expected of me, that I’ve been fooling everyone who knows me into believing I’m worth something when I veritably suck. Then, from the bedroom just ten feet away, an alarm goes off. I crawl toward it, the empty, unwarranted tears now pouring down my face.
The alarm says “Instagram.” So, I open the app and scroll through my photo library. I’m still moaning into the phone but not quite saying anything. My mom has threatened to hang up and — oh, there she goes, my mom has hung up. I put the landline down and take my left hand to my eyebrow. As I stroke the hairs forward then back, I perform a similar practice with my right hand, scrolling through an archive of photos to locate the one I’m to post. It’s a glorified selfie, only I didn’t take it. I’m smiling and my thumb is up and my left eye is winking. The caption will read something charmingly self-deprecating.
The post goes up.
I resume my anguish.
But here’s the thing: outside of the microcosm of my apartment floor and through the landline that called my mother, no one knows I’ve hit my social rock bottom. Instagram has just moments ago extolled the multifarious virtues of a smile-plus-thumb-up while reality tells a more dismal tale of my existence in real time. That I could have just been threatening to stab myself in the knee to the woman who first gave me life, followed by a whimsical caption, is alarming. A rather disturbing question presents itself in the wake of this conditioning of a social media vs. real life balance: do the circumstances of our living in 2015 — that is, does our being simultaneously real and virtual people in this day and age — perpetuate our respective tangos with sociopathy?
Is that even possible?
Though the above scenario has been dramatized for the production of this post, it is not unusual that I should feel like the worst version of myself IRL and yet emanate a sense of “it’s all right, it’s all great” for the social media conceptions of my reality that follow. Sure, there is the argument that one should fake it until they make it. This concept has been a proven success scientifically, but this notion of switching off reality to switch on virtuality and the blurred lines that convolute the two touch upon something a bit deeper.
How can it be that I could feel as though my world is in the process of shattering, like I will never be able to get out of bed, and yet still make time through that escalating grief to get chummy with social media? Does part of “making it” today mean learning to repress our emotions? Do our emotions in tangible real time mean less because of the amount of effort we put into crafting our virtual realities?
They say all is fair in love and war; is that true too for life and social media?