Google is the worst thing to happen to self esteem since Seventeen magazine. The irresistible urge to know any and all details of someone you are curious about usually comes at 2:30 in the morning when you’ve given up the dream of having well rested skin in the morning and a less than totally psychotic mind. According to my history my most common searches include things like:
“best drugstore hair dye”
“uses of apple cider vinegar”
“How to self publish”
and last, and most embarrassingly but probably most relevant:
“quotes on being strong”
I like knowing things. I like pushing at the feeling at the bottom of your stomach when you want to know the answer to something. It’s why I’ve sat in the visiting cell of the Oregon state pen. Why I’ve buried my toes in the sand of Miami Beach. Why I went to college. Why I have an assortment of small handmade miniature clay pastries. And why I can explain to you how to make a lattice for an apple pie in under 10 minutes. I am hungry. Hungry to know. Hungry to understand. Hungry to solve. Hungry to study.
I regard this hunger with tremendous tenderness and love. It is something within my spirit I hope to never lose. I would like to be curious for as long as I am alive. But sometimes, this curiosity bleeds into other parts of my spirit and they get tangled together and I start walking a tight rope I don’t even care about.
I googled a person. A person I don’t know. Who I will probably never know. But I wanted to know what this person looked like. And what they did. And if the internet recognize their name.
Duh. Bad idea.
Our internet personas are as bleak as a strip mall in phoenix. The whole idea of internet personas bore me to death, and yet, they intimidate me and make me feel insecure and impossibly mixed up. Maybe I feel this way because as a blogger human writer person who publishes primarily online I feel massively vulnerable, because instead of having light hearted things to fall back on I tear open my heart and share every detail with thousands of people I don’t know.
There are all types of personas.. LOL ones. Glamorous ones. Intellectual ones. Normal-target-shopping-has-date-stamps-on-every-picture ones. And then there are my least favorite ones: the super self aware, stylized and vague ones. The ones where everything seems like an ad for a brand I cant afford and wouldn’t know how to wear. With white backgrounds and ironic backdrops. Perfect pictures. Few smiles. Helvetica. Stainless steel. Designer education. Model looking friends.
Who are these people? Do their houses really always look like that? Are their friends all really that attractive and successful? Is that their real hair?
As I step back and look though my social media profiles I realize my “persona” is a mix of teenage girl meets some weird middle aged man with a touch of 1960s Mom. Who the fuck am i? Will I ever feel cool enough? Will I ever stop categorically comparing my successes to theirs? My hair to theirs? My friends to their friends? My abilities to their abilities? My cat to their cat? My dog to their dog?
THE INTERNET IS MAKING US ALL AFRAID OF ONE ANOTHER.
Because online you can just brand the fuck out of whatever stupid concept you’ve idolized. And what the fuck is any different about what I’m doing than what their doing?
Well for starters I’ve never been composed. My instagram has about 37298089032580 selfies. And I do it because I like to see how my face looks. And I do it because I like to think my hair is as golden as Amaro makes it look. Because on a day when I haven’t hung out with a single human being it feels good to know “22 people like” that picture of me I took in the hallway of my house. It makes me, for a second, believe I am not alone. That I am not invisible to the world. And this world and living can sometimes make you feel like you are constantly working to never be forgotten in a world that will, most likely, forget you. Which reminds me of that documentary I watched about a woman who died in her apartment and slowly decayed over the span of 4 years before anyone noticed she was gone. But that makes me too sad to think of, and so I’ll just have to keep on keeping on with this.
Pinterest. Instagram. Facebook. Google. Twitter. They all make me feel like I’m not gonna be good enough. That everyone’s on a better vacation than me, has a sweeter boyfriend than I do, a better job and a prettier life all around. And it just sucks. And what sucks ever more than that is that I sometimes play into this insane game of buying and selling ideals. Ill find myself adjusting my instagram or rearranging my credentials on facebook. And if you’re rolling your eyes right now, check yourself because every last person reading this has compared themselves to whatever perfect image they’re staring at on that screen. And it sucks and you know it. But it doesn’t make you stupid. It doesn’t even make you weak. It just means you’re human. A human in a culture that is wholly addicted to technology, image and power. So no shit you’re feeling kinda fat dumb and ugly.
Of course, I don’t feel this way every time I’m on these sites. In fact, most of the time I just love looking at what you guys are up to. What videos you like. What song made your morning better. When you’re expecting your first baby. That you are now “in a relationship”. And all those wonderful pictures of all your lovely adventures and faces.
The bottom belly of this is the same as it always is: I don’t want to be a mediocre person living a mediocre life with mediocre fulfillment.
So tonight, as I felt that creepy crawly spider web feeling in my stomach as I looked at the information on the screen in front of me, instead of adjusting my instagram or taking a selfie or fluffing up my work or education or involvement with any one thing in particular, I decided to be honest and tell all of you that I just kinda felt like crummy and confused for a hot second. Confused about whre my life is going. Confused about which parts of myself I still need to work on and which ones are perfectly weird and imperfect. Confused about if I’ll have the success I am so hungry for. Confused about if dying my hair blonde was a weird decision. Confused about if I’ll be published this fall. I’m just confused, you guys. Because I want great things. And the idea of failing is terrifying.
Not because my own self worth and beauty is iinvisible to me. Or because I believe in anyway that this person is better than me. Or that any of you are better than me. Or that I am better than you. Or that anyone it better than anyone. Or more important than me. Or more beautiful than me. But because sometimes you think you want to know something but after you know that something you sort of just wished you never knew any of it at all. And that’s a lesson on interneting. If I am feeling wobbly and kinda weird- maybe I should go for a run. Or call my Grandma. Or make popcorn. Or sit at the piano. Or go to a garden. Or take Vern for a walk. Or organize my dresser. Maybe all that scrolling and double tapping and straining your eyes is a lot more damaging than we all realize. Maybe we’re all on the same boat. And we all don’t want to be mediocre people living mediocre lives with mediocre fulfillment. And we don’t want everyone to be our competitor And we don’t all want to love Helvetica. Some of us can love courier even if it is a little contrived. Some of us can take less than artistic photos of our everyday lives. We can have zits. We can have messy rooms. And friends who are awkward. And fuck, we are awkward, too. We can not always get invited to the party. We can follow more people than follow us. We can be whoever the fuck we are and we don’t need to feel weird or misplaced or insignificant.
I have this nervousness that I’ve been too tender. That I’ve opened up too much. That few of you will even relate to this. That I sound crazy and too sensitive. But my gut tells me otherwise. My gut tells me we’ve all felt a little shitty after a facebook or instagram bender. So maybe that means something. Maybe that means instead of taking time to make things always look “a certain way” maybe we can just post an unflattering photo of ourselves. Or post a status update that is sincere. Or like a picture even though it has a date and time stamp.
This isn’t a race. This isn’t a beauty pageant. Be yourself. You’re great. I mean it.