Day Four/Five: The cesspool of social media has me drowning

I find myself looking forward to random people’s morning stories. Hah, call my sleep-deprived but that reads as morning glory to me and I am at the stage of housebound, recycled-air inhalation insanity which makes that veeeeeeeeeery funny.

Anyway. Pretending I’m not a nine-year-old boy who’s just had his first erection –

I follow one woman on Instagram who’s a doctor/mad Crossfit person/nutrition expert/ ONLY TWENTY-EIGHT WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK and have come to the cataclysmic realisation that my day doesn’t feel quite complete if I haven’t borne witness to her daily “coffee thoughts.” What is a coffee thought, you ask? Well, it is an Instagram story of a cup of some stranger’s coffee and three thoughts they have while drinking it. I know, it is literally everything I ridicule and believe to be a scourge on our society. And yet.

The creating of the post, filtering of the post, writing of the post, hashtagging of the post, responding to comments on the post and not forgetting the constant refreshing/mindless scrolling to check the success of the post AD ACTUAL INFINITUM.

In her case it is always an aerial shot of a frothed morning brew (which is infuriatingly unrealistic-looking and barista-y considering she’s in her hardwood floored kitchen), below which she wriggles sock-shod feet (and you just know those white bad boys are 100% cotton and ethically made) in equally soft and pastel-hued pajamas that don’t have any obvious toothpaste or tea stains on them. Puke. And yet I am addicted to it – the whole stinking performance of it.

The “wait for it” caption of Deliciously Ella’s morning routine as she tells me to wait patiently for “the money shot”, the splash of her steamed, organic almond milk into her espresso. And the crime is, I wait. Breath held, pupils dilated in anticipation, tastebuds virtually orgasming at the fusion of pulverised and diluted nut juice with pulverised and diluted bean dust, investing unhealthy emotions in this ritualistic performance which only proliferate the more I am exposed to it until my day feels almost bereft without it.

“BUT WHAT DID SHE THINK, TODAY?” I gasp when I realise the day has lapsed and I have not suctioned myself into a digital vortex to gorge off somebody else’s unoriginality instead of cultivating my own: it is very important to cultivate the ways you wish to be unoriginal.

And when are they posting this? Pre, during or post-caffeine? Is their coffee even still drinkable by the time they press upload and finally turn their attention back to their original muse? Or is evaporated froth and tepid brown water the price you pay for donating your morning epiphanies with half a million people? How many people have they ignored, partners, friends, parents silenced with a distracted “hmmmmm..??” or ssshhed in the rush to detonate ‘send’? How much earlier are they getting up to fit in this social media-ing or are they switching out hair-brushing for typing, trading make-up application for virtual communication like I do when I’ve slept in and need to make a quick and hungover Sophie’s choice in my personal presentation (teeth vs hair, nice outfit vs make up). Or do they actually have it all, have they nailed the all-rounder, all-productive stereotype of our co-dependent, entitled generation who believes that having a thought is the same as sharing a thought? THIS IS THE SHIT I WANT TO KNOW.

Before you stone me with slanders of hypocrisy, yes, I know I am perpetuating that same co-dependence and entitlement with these diaries – like, how do I think these thoughts are worthy of my energy, let alone yours – but, as I’ve said many times and will say again, this is an exercise in creative narcissism and these chronicles are all for me, baby. So stop being such a self-centred prat.

Holly takes a well-needed tea break. The candles she bought in Dunnes Stores for a fiver have already burnt-out rendering her near blind. Nevertheless, she persists on her hell-bent theme for the day: Instagram.

My screen-time was up by 82% this week. EIGHTY TWO PERCENT HIGHER THAN AN ALREADY TOO-HIGH INTERNET CONSUMPTION NUMBER. That is why I am spending an exorbitant amount of time talking about Instagram – because apparently it’s either talk about Instagram or BE on Instagram.

Every morning I tell myself today’s the day I phone detox and then the internet sends me a gem I simply cannot ignore and I go from one gateway meme to an MI5-level investigation that ages me twenty years. And that is mere consumption of social media – that’s not even touching on the Titanic-level iceberg of how I choose to be consumed on online platforms.

You see, as much as I am LOVING creating these daily posts – even before the validation of hearing people are enjoying them, which is really something* – they necessitate a level of social media engagement I am not comfortable with. The writing of a post, uploading of a link, sharing of a story – I find this exhausting and a little uncomfortable. Exhilarating (but that is what makes me uncomfortable – why should a stranger sending me a love heart emoji make me feel so darn good?) exhausting nonetheless. And not just because it’s time-consuming, which in my case it ALWAYS is, between the creating of the post, filtering of the post, writing of the post, hashtagging of the post, responding to comments on the post and not forgetting the constant refreshing/mindless scrolling to check the success of the post AD ACTUAL INFINITUM. I remember a friend kindly trying to explain to me how algorithms but mainly Instagram work – she wasn’t the first and won’t be the last – and telling me that a common occurrence in the influencer world is to delete a certain post if it hasn’t got enough attention and then repost it at a certain time. WHAT. But also…I can empathise which is infinitely sadder.

She also told me there were certain times of day for “posting to the grid” (which is a legitimate phrase – I do insist on robust fact-checking) – my sister actually gave out to me the other day because I was uploading one of these diaries in the middle of a very competitive gameof Yaniv at 5pm when apparently, the only time to post is at 8pm and every incompetent idiot knows this?

I must be exceedingly competent.

To paraphrase the Lizzie McGuire movie, “so much Corona, so little time-a.”

This is not what I find exhausting though – this performative, time-zapping, phD-needed rigmarole – but rather it is tiresome because every time I do it, I’m putting a little piece of my self-worth into the hands of an external, impersonal, and perfectly indifferent audience. I’m saying, “hey! Look at me! I invite you to have an opinion on me!”

Sidenote: Of course, it’s not ‘me’ I’m proferring up to be imposed upon but rather a version of ‘me’, so already the opinion I’m inadvertently asking for is skewed, inaccurate, ill-informed. Babies, I’m far too multi-faceted and honestly a little manic to ever be contained in a 2D – even 3D – medium. See my latest flirtation with a career in the satirical music industry for proof.

Nevertheless, this leveraging of the self is excessively tiring because it chips away at my self-esteem, forces me into a self-inflicted slavery of emotional labour, and whisks me into a real shitshow of an existentially insecure omelette. The no-yolk, three-eggwhite, I’ll-use-water-as-a-lubricant, kind. Example below.

Hypothesis: I thought that piece/photo/story was good/hilarious/relatable but it’s not getting the reaction I believed it would (and maybe even deserved?)

Conclusion: It is not good. I was wrong. I am not good. How can I be good? She looks good. People like her. How can I be like her?

And that might be graaaand and easily rationalised if I was spreading the good word of beauty products or activewear but I’m not – I’m the one-woman, not-for-profit PR agency reprensenting: ME. The facets of me, the white-lies of me, sure, but everything I write, create, think is a fundamental, honest, and raw part of me. And I’m giving it to you. For free. Or rather for the bargain price of a like or premium price of a share.

So, for me, I’m not just pressing upload, I’m pushing myself out into the world, and asking to be nurtured with love or pummelled back with the resounding slap of indolence or, worse, indifference. And it is a vicious cycle.

The more I post, the more I feel like I NEED to post – I simply must share this sunset, I cannot live if I do not document this outfit, I absolutely have to detail the minutae of that thought-progression I had from a dreadlocked nomad on a train admiring my lime-green pantaloons to that time I played an obese bear in primary school and walked around for two days with a pillow stuffed down my trousers.

I do not like outsourcing my value and I do not like commodifying the things that I love. Which is why, when I hear that voice telling me I neeeeeeeeeeeed to share something with the world, I know it is time to put the phone away and go for a big long walk that’s really more of a one-on-one intervention. This is why I am absolutely and wholly unsuited to the writing profession – which demands both.

Ahhhh, paradox: the holy grail of the tortured artist.

I know you’re not here for the deep shit and we’re all really reading this to see what happened next with enigmatic WhatsApper but hey, cabin fever is at turns a flippant, frivolous, intoxicatingly spiritual experience and I but a slave to its philosophical rollercoaster.

So, in brief, I have an addiction that I could easily kick if I just showed even an iota of restraint but, as anyone who’s ever seen me at a pre-paid breakfast buffet can attest, restraint just ain’t really my thang, dawg.

In another, longer, tangential summation, I’m just saying I struggle with the limits and boundaries of social media interaction and a career where I constantly feel like I need to be “selling” myself and garnering attention, acclaim, followers. If I’m being really honest – I KNOW, TRES UNLIKE ME – one ulterior motive for beginning these diaries was for professional gain ( obviously gone by the wayside now I’ve been reduced to showing how incapable I am of WFH productivity and have decided, in the context of a crisis we never believed we’d see in our lifestimes, that now is the time to decribe, at length, mysterious text messages from a pretty boy). There was a subliminal goal of “being discovered” and a pressure – largely taken from a social media newsfeed that shows other creators using this unprecedented free time to create (when not doing Yoga with Adriene, that is) – to write the next Ulysses or Feminine Mystique or Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

That is no longer the aim. Now, thanks to dark-haired “blast from the past” dude, I’m just aiming to be the next E.L. James. Easy fricking peasy.

Ok it’s midnight, my brain is exploding with the unsaid but in true me form, I’ve made five million promises to myself of tasks I will accomplish before 9am so I suppose sleep might be a shout? To paraphrase the Lizzie McGuire movie, “so much Corona, so little time-a.”

Good night and god bless.

*I love getting feedback! Please give me feedback! By this, I mean, please send me exclusive and solely positive affirmations and/or sincere yet impractical marriage proposals that I will still consider because a shotgun wedding would be the perfect cure for quarantine. Thanks ever so.

TREE TINGS

So seeing as I’m mad to have a theme today, I thought I’d share just three heroes of Instagram who are largely responsible for my current addiction:

  • Celeste Barber: If you are not one of the 6.9 million followers LIVING for her model challenge, then I think we need to redefine this relationship. Basically, she takes OUTRAGEOUS model photo shoots and recreates them in a more…realistic fashion. I can’t do this justice – please just go watch.
  • Celeste Barber’s Husband: So, Celeste is married to an incontrovertible ride (I’m not objectifying him, this is anthropological fact) who also seems to be the nicest lad in the world. Almost better than Celeste’s page is his Instagram page which she mainly controls. It’s called hothusband and I am so beyond here. For. It. It’s cute, it’s funny, it makes me think true love exists which is mammoth for my stubbornly-locked heart.
  • Molly Freja: Molly’s Instagram account is probably my favourite thing on the internet forever for a multitude of reasons. 1) She is using quarantine with her parents to recreate iconic photographs in which her parents are the muses. Can you deal because I sure as hell bloody can’t? 2) Seeing what creative lengths she will go to next is honestly a reason to get up in the mornings. Think Dali and Gala, think Frida and Diego, think Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’. 3) These are not only genuinely stunning photos, they are also a perfect opportunity to superimpose your own romantic ideals on her obviously LEGENDARY parents – who I am even more infatuated with because they are called Liz and Brian. I have already created a whole internal storyboard around their passionate relationship that has now tempered to a steady, silent but ever-constant love. 4) When not fantasising about her parents, I’m instead envying and again narrating Molly’s relationship with them – I mean, how class must she/they/them all collectively be to orchestrate a situation where parents are allowing themselves to be dressed up, pivoted, twisted, and tweaked by their adult daughter on a daily basis? I cannot even get mine to buy waste-free shampoo.

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