Everyone’s Lives Look Perfect…On Social Media

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 4: “I love/hate Twitter because…”

I sat on a plane in March and wrote a blog post entitled, “My Frayed And Codependent With Twitter.” At the time, I was slightly perturbed that I had reached 10,000 tweets–a fact that felt both foolish and absurd. Since then, I am now somewhere in the 17,000 tweet stratosphere, but I stopped letting the number worry me, the same way couples quit tallying their arguments. The amount of times I’ve tweeted is now (and probably always was) inconsequential, especially because Twitter has brought me more good than harm.

Twitter, like most forms of social media, is a bit of an alternate universe. But, what makes it even more odd than say Facebook is that it’s a space to connect with friends and strangers alike. It is odd, almost abominable, to friend someone on Facebook who you don’t know. But, following a complete stranger on Twitter? Not a problem. Last night, my phone buzzed, alerting me that Jamilah Lemieux, a bit of a demigod in the print media world, had replied to one of my tweets. Jamilah doesn’t know me for jack shit; but with the potency of social media, I was able to connect with one of my writer idols.

In fact, in the months since I first penned the post about my codependent relationship with Twitter, I’ve connected with many more writers thanks to the microblogging tool. Likewise, my work has been able to reach more people. Twitter is prime for sharing content and I’d venture to guess that at least 85 percent of the articles and blogs I read cross my path via someone’s tweets. I spend most days with my mind on overdrive, mentally munching on bits of information that come to me in 140 characters or less, typically with a hyperlink to something else. Many of the ideas I get for my posts are hidden in tweets, someone saying either something that I completely respect or completely disagree with, prompting me to expel my response on my blog.

So, that is the love part.

If there is a hate part, it is that Twitter has given everyone a microphone to say whatever the hell they want. And, let’s face it: some people don’t need to get on the mic. They should stay backstage and help with sound check. I’ve learned to take pretty much everything said on Twitter with a grain of salt, eventually reaching the conclusion that some words are said for entertainment only. It is the perfect platform for attention–whether you’re a woman looking for a guy to compliment you on your looks (cue the flood of selfies with subtle cleavage) or if you’re a guy looking to piss off a lot of people with chauvinistic musings.

Of course, there’s always truth in humor, but the people who have amassed thousands of followers know how to tweet purely for entertainment. Some days, reading my timeline is like sitting front row at a stand-up performance. These online comedians have their audience down to a science, fully aware that if they say something controversial, sexist or disgusting, they will incite the exact response they’re seeking. Those digital diatribes are less real and more theatrical.

In the end, Twitter, like any form of social media, provides only a unilateral display of a person. You do not get the nuances, tone, or facial contortions. You do not know always know the multi-layered story behind why they are tweeting both incessantly and cryptically about being hurt. You only get the most microscopic view, a view that is far too limited in scope to allow you to make assumptions or jump to conclusions, even though that is what we all do.

Most people’s lives seem utterly amazing on social media. Of course, I’ll post the pictures of me chilling at a wine festival or lying on a beach, linking my Instagram account to my Facebook and Twitter and giving the impression that I do really cool shit all the time. The truth is, I spend many weekends in my overpriced apartment eating Chipotle, reading and binging on globs of terrible television. These activities just don’t lend themselves to self-absorbed photography like the others. But, we can get so caught up in these seemingly perfect digital narratives that we forget we’re all still people with debt, insecurities and some days, utterly ordinary and mundane lives.






Boys Are Dumb; Throw Rocks At Them.

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 1: “I had my first crush when…”

His name was Lars. He had a glass eye and threw up right in front of me one day at the snack table. My kindergarten heart did not care. I found his glass eye endearing, an impediment that made him quirky and different in an obvious but not necessarily jarring way. I would many years later fall for a man who did not have a sense of smell, his olfaction destroyed as a child in some freak accident. I guess old habits die hard.

Lars moved to Singapore when we were in third grade, but by then, I had already acquired newer objects of my young affection. There was Rudy in second grade, who I planted a kiss on one afternoon during recess. In sixth grade, there was Ray, better known as Ray Ray. Somehow he caught wind of my fondness and we “dated” for our week, our prepubescent relationship consisting of holding hands when we walked from math class to social studies. He dumped me quickly for Kiara. She had cornrows dangling down her spine and was one of those girls who emerged as a leader of the pack. She often cut her eyes at me in the hallway, either because I was Ray Ray’s ex-girlfriend, I wasn’t in her league, or maybe a sinister combination of the two. I couldn’t possibly compete. Nor did I want to. Perhaps Kiara, the braided badass, taught me that fighting for or over a male is the biggest waste of energy a woman can ever exert.

Since the days of Lars and Ray Ray, I’ve had a handful of other crushes, but most of my adulthood romances have emerged from friendships or men I paid absolutely zero attention to until or unless someone alerted me of their liking. Somehow, the older I’ve gotten, the more I keep the men I adore at bay, all too familiar with the feeling of unrequited anything.

You live through enough fizzled romances to learn how to build an armor of emotion. You learn that crush often transforms from a noun when you’re young to a verb when you’re older, boulders of unreciprocated emotion weighing on you. It no longer feels fun or exciting to like someone who does not like you back; it feels exhausting. You can barely eat or sleep without maniacally monitoring your phone for text messages or missed calls. It isn’t exhilarating to feel completely undone by someone; in fact, it’s unbearable.

You learn that the world is small and your social circle is even smaller. You learn that developing even an infinitesimal liking for someone inside your loop comes with unwritten rules and outright repercussions. You learn to keep your mouth shut, because finding someone attractive is offensive in the event that your friend’s other friend dated that person in a former life. You learn that women are territorial, hell, people are territorial. And, you don’t understand it. You don’t agree with it. You think it’s completely idiotic that if one person who you maybe, sort of, know slept with one person one time than it is blasphemous for you to even consider liking that person. But, you abide by the unwritten rules because you hate chaos or confrontation. Plus, you know the romance will eventually fizzle anyway, so why even bother?

My crushes have evolved, yet somehow, my mindset regarding the opposite sex mimics that same kindergarten girl I was 19 years ago: when in doubt, boys are dumb; throw rocks at them.