social media

For Anyone Else Who is Opening and Closing and Scrolling and Sighing

I wrote this a little while back, but it has been resonating with me lately so I wanted to share.


 

It’s 7:00 p.m.

I’m alone, my roommates aren’t home from work yet, and I’m lying on my bed with a towel in my hair. I unlock my phone and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll, and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open YouTube and I watch a few videos with my head resting on a pillow, my hair making it damp through the towel and my feet kicking off the end of my bed.

I drop my phone on my bed and I walk into the bathroom. I take the towel off and hang it up, then run a brush and some product through my hair. I walk back to my bed and pick up my phone. A red notification shows up on Facebook. It’s a friend request from someone I don’t know, so I block it, and then I take a few seconds to scroll. At some point I lay back down on my stomach and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it.

I sigh.

I walk downstairs. While I make dinner, I leave my phone on the table so I won’t look at it. I open my computer and open Hulu, with subtitles, so I can watch an episode of something while I cook. Ten minutes later, a notification goes off on my phone. I look over at it on the table, and then I turn back to the stove and my computer. I finish cooking and set my dishes in the sink to do later. With a spoon I scoop myself a healthy serving onto a plate, then I grab a fork, a glass of water, and my phone en route to the couch, where I turn on the TV.

My food is hot. I put a pillow on my lap and I blow softly on the plate while unlocking my phone and opening Instagram. Hardly anything new has been posted, so I go to the discover page and I scroll and scroll and scroll until I learn more about a stranger’s life than I have ever known about some of my friends. When I realize I haven’t turned on the television, I put my phone down and scoot it away from me on the end table, and then I start eating.

When I finish eating, I put my plate on the end table and I clutch onto the pillow in my lap while I watch television. I like this show, but at some point I’m looking at my phone again. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but it feels like I should keep looking. When I don’t find anything, I put my phone down again and I go into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

I want to write tonight. To be productive. Maybe go to bed early so I’ll feel better tomorrow. I walk upstairs and sit down at my desk. I throw my phone on my bed so I won’t look at it, but then I walk over and pick it up because I decide I want to listen to music. Just music, I tell myself. But when I hit a snag in what I’m writing, I’m back on my phone, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

It’s 9:00 p.m. now and there is still nobody home. I’m tired. I want to say it’s because I went to the gym earlier, but it’s not my muscles that hurt. I want to say it’s because I woke up early for work, but I’ve been doing that for years. I lean back in my chair and let the exhaustion set in while I continue scrolling. When I find a tweet someone wrote about feeling tired, I feel understood, and I feel better.

For a second.

I throw my phone back on my bed. I need to write. If I write I can move forward, and if I move forward I will feel happy. But I’m too tired today. Today I need a break. I get up and walk over to my bed. Reaching for the remote on my bedside table with one hand, I pull my phone towards me with the other. With my index finger, I tap the screen, looking for notifications, texts, missed calls, anything, but there’s nothing there, so I flip it over. I pick a movie and I lay back on my pillow. I pick up my phone and I turn it in my hands. It’s just a fidget, but when I happen to turn it in a way that makes the screen light up, I glance down at it—just to check.

It’s 10:30 p.m. now and there is still no one home. One roommate said she’s working late, and the other texted to say she’s grabbing drinks with a coworker. So for now, maybe even for tonight, I’m alone. It’s just me. And it’s quiet. I pick up my phone and I scroll and scroll and scroll, but nothing helps. There’s nothing there. Or if there is, I can’t find it. Should I keep looking? Should I follow new people or unfollow those I’m no longer closer to? Should I post something? Should I take something down? Is there anything I can do to break this silence? Anything to make me a little more visible?

That’s what it is, I’m just not loud enough. If I was louder, people would hear me, they would see me, they would talk to me. I should post something. A picture or a blog or a tweet. Something funny. Something sweet. Something that makes people think or laugh or just simply answer. I should post something.

I scroll.

It’s 11:00 p.m. My eyes are heavy now and my stomach hurts. The house is quiet. My room is quiet. But my head is so loud. My phone is on the charger and I’m wondering whether or not I’m upset. Am I mad at my roommates? Am I mad at myself? Am I mad at all? Maybe I’m sad. Maybe I’m lonely. Or maybe I’m just tired. That’s it. I’m tired. I should go to bed.

I scroll.

Tomorrow I’ll do better, I think to myself. Tomorrow I won’t look at my phone. Maybe I’ll even leave it at home. No, what if I have an emergency? What if I need to call someone? What if someone sends me a text or a Snapchat or tags me in an Instagram photo or mentions me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter or posts a good YouTube video. Not that I care about that stuff. People know where to reach me. They could call my work if it was really an emergency. Plus, if I leave my phone at home, I bet by the time I get off work I’ll have so many notifications. And when I tell everyone I left my phone at home and just saw this, they’ll think I’m cool and casual and don’t need my phone—like the rest of the world. Which I don’t. I barely even look at my phone.

I turn my phone on silent. I don’t need all of the upcoming notifications keeping me awake. I turn over, then wonder if people are texting me. Namely that guy I like. I’m sure he’s apologizing for waiting so long to text me back. My friends from high school and college are probably sending me quick messages to let me know how much I mean to them. And my sister might have posted something about me on Instagram that people will think is funny and endearing and make them wish they were in my inner circle of friends. People are probably commenting on my blog, letting me know how much it means to them. I bet my follower count is increasing by the minute.

I roll over and pick up my phone. Nothing.

Right.

I don’t care.

I was just curious what time it was.

I turn back over and close my eyes. I’m glad I’m not one of those people who think their worth can be found in their phone. I bet they’re miserable.

In Case You’re Wondering About TikTok

One of quarantine’s biggest breakout stars (besides Tiger King) has been TikTok, a social media app that lets you share (up to) one minute videos of absolutely anything.

Most commonly, you’ll see choreographed dances, themed trends, and one person skits dubbed “POV’s” or “point of views”, but then there are also the wonderful, sometimes accidental, creative, weird, funny, and 100% rewatchable videos that you (or at least I) feel the need to share with friends and family whenever we are catching up.

This is not an ad to make you download TikTok, or a ploy to make certain people on TikTok famous—I don’t have that kind of reach (or sponsorship). All I know is that sometimes when I’m looking for a few minutes (or an hour) to kill, or to take my mind off things and laugh or cringe or say, “wait, what?” out loud to myself, I open TikTok and strap in.

So, I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case you’re looking for a) an introduction to what you might find on this infamous app, or b) a little something to kill some time.

My personal favorite videos on the app can be summed up into four major categories:

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1) Travel

Which I like to bookmark in the hopes that one day I’ll visit the place they are showcasing.

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2) Pranks

Which I feel bad for laughing at because I HATE being pranked but…I can’t help it.

@walker

Pranks wars has started with my mom 😱😂 #foryou #fyp

♬ original sound – walker

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@toshaamoore

Compilation of scaring my brother in the kitchen ☺️☺️😂#foryouu #foryoupage #scared #scares #imawful

♬ original sound – toshaamoore

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3) “Perseverance”

I get SO invested in videos where people set up elaborate obstacle courses, or try for hours to make trick shots. It reminds me of the afternoons my cousins and I spent in our grandparents living room throwing playing cards and poker chips into hats we found around the house.

@jordanwonder

it’s just cause @aleahlivingston plays basketball 🏀 🙄 #fyp #foryoupage

♬ original sound – jordanwonder

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@owen_kushtensen

this took many tries so please give it some love #fyp #wintersports #strangepets

♬ FML – Arizona Zervas

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4) Undefined Hilarity

These are videos that make me laugh so hard, sometimes for reasons I can’t understand. These are the gems that make the endless scrolling worth it (to me).

@williamscopetti

Volete che vi suono qualcosa in un’altro video? #italy #comedy #foryou IG: _risocantonese

♬ suono originale – williamscopetti

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@thatoneguy_2

asked my grandma if the shower in the guest room still worked#thingsthathappened

♬ original sound – thatoneguy_2

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If you’re looking for more recommendations, I highly recommend checking out this video where YouTuber Jenna Marbles plays some of her favorite TikToks, and her reactions are honestly better than the TikToks themselves.

Also, I apologize in advance if this post inspires you to download TikTok and you accidentally sit down on scroll through it for four days straight. It happens to the best of us.

My Decade Recap (As Told by Old Facebook Statuses) (List-cember #7)

I have seen a bunch of posts in the last month where people recap their decade, going through the highlights of each year to cringe, reminisce, feel nostalgic and propel themselves forward into this new decade.

When I sat down to do a post of my own, I struggled with what I wanted to share/not share and how I wanted to share it. Then I saw an update from my Facebook page. “On this day 6 years ago…”

That’s when I realized that if there’s anything that can accurately recap the last 10 years, it is my Facebook statuses. 10 years ago, I was ALL ABOUT Facebook statuses. I liked trying to be witty and clever, I liked updating the Facebook universe on things they probably didn’t need to be updated on, and I often posted quotes from my favorite movies and television shows, or just funny one liners from my family and friends.

So, as we close in on 2020, on the 20’s, let’s see what my Facebook has to say about the 10’s.

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2010

I experienced loss.

2010 blue pen

And triumph.

2010 donkey kong

I set goals.

2010 goals

I had road rage.

2010 peds

And I made myself laugh.

2010 witty

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2011

I made a wish

2011 accent 1

I started my first blog when I studied abroad in Australia…

2011 first blog

…where I was able to manifest my wish.

2011 accent 2

I made important cuts

2011 ipod

I asked important questions

2011 robert pins

And I continued to have road rage.

2011 road rage

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2012

I graduated from college

2012 college

I was grateful

2012 camel

I got into hockey

2012 hockey

Like really into hockey

2012 hockey 2

I took my stance on soul patches

2012 soul patches

And yes, I continued to have road rage

2012 driving

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2013

I met Bobby

2013 bobby

I charted a new career path

2013 career

I found a new motto

2013 motto

I questioned my brother’s plan for the zombie apocalypse

2013 zombie

And I got into puns

2013 hammer

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2014

I started this blog

2014 blog

I started my presidential campaign

2014 president

2014 president 2

I beat sinus congestion

2014 sandra

And I climbed Mt. Whitney.

2014 whitney 2

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2015

I decided to start eating healthier

2015 fealth

I stood up to the man

2015 time warner

I got published

2015 writing

And I continued my relationship with puns

2015 whoop ass

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2016

I became a meme

2016 meme

I cooked

2016 dinner

I questioned parenthood

2016 siri

And I lost control

2016 target

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2017

I earned my black belt

2017 karate kim

I splurged

2017 ice cream

I introduced the world to Kevin

2017 kevin

And I got better at laundry

2017 laundry

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2018

I started exercising

2018 gym

I embraced my true self

2018 old lady

And I expressed my true fears

2018 sneeze

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2019

I let everyone know I ran the marathon…

2019 marathon

…and then did nothing else except share my blog posts and spy on people.

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Overall, I’m happy with where I came from and how I used that to get where I am now.

And even though my Facebook statuses are slim, if not completely nonexistent these days, at least I have this blog where I can do everything I was trying to do in those three sentence updates—including make myself laugh. Here’s to another 10 years.

 

If You’re Going to Post, Post What’s True

As a creature of habit, my routine in the morning is almost identical every single day of the workweek. Among pressing snooze a few times, listening to a podcast, and making a (usually empty) promise to myself that we’ll nap later, checking Timehop—an app that connects to your social media accounts and shows you posts you made on that day in years past—is a staple.

Even though the Facebook posts, Instagram pictures and tweets can sometimes be unbearably cringy, I like to check in on the person I was however many years ago, and observe how much I’ve grown since then.

But among the goofy, the melodramatic, and the sometimes indecipherable posts, I sometimes find ones that make me downright frown. Because even now, after all these years, I can still feel the inauthenticity. It only takes a second to read the words or scan the picture to remember that the only reason I posted that was to impress/amuse/appease someone else.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be too hard on myself. We all go through periods of growth. Seasons when we’re trying on different versions of ourselves to see which one fits. Thus, reading those posts that definitely aren’t me could be viewed as little more than skimming digital records of that growing process. But it also makes me sad to see how much I valued the opinions and acceptance of others over presenting a truthful version of myself.

These days, I do my best to present nothing but the truth. Not only for the benefit of my present self (and anyone who might view what I post) but also for my future self, who, upon skimming Timehop one or two or five years from now can look back and be proud that I was confident enough to be my true self. After all, as much fun as it is to receive love and praise and “likes” for something we post, none of that will mean much if you know that what you posted is an ingenuine representation of who you are and what you’re feeling.

Think of social media like a scrapbook or a journal, minus the fear of it getting lost or worn with time. Once you put something on the Internet, it’s there forever. Which is kind of scary, but also kind of cool if you use it to your advantage. Technology is scrapbooking our memories for us, storing them for future “awww’s” and “eww’s” and “OH MY GOSH’s.”

Don’t get me wrong; posting to social media is a choice. The world will only see what you want it to see, but with that being said, why choose to only show the world a lie? What good does that do anyone, especially your future self who might want to look back and connect.

At the end of the day, I’m not here to judge you or anything you do or do not want to post to social media, and I expect you’d give me the same courtesy. But over the years, I’ve found that if you are going to post something, it’s always better to post what’s true. It’s better for you, it’s better for those around you, and it’s better for the world as a whole. We don’t get anywhere when we lie to each other, and we only go backwards when we lie to ourselves.

Stop Trying to Be Relatable

Have you ever been hanging out with a group of people you only kind of know, so you’re trying your best to come off as someone completely normal and confident and witty and friendly and successful—in a completely casual way, of course—and then suddenly they start talking about something you know absolutely nothing about?

You listen, trying desperately to find a story or factoid in your brain that would be an appropriate contribution, but nothing comes. So you just sit, smiling and nodding, wishing you’d done more with your life so you could be a more well-rounded, knowledge-of-all-things type of person.

As they continue—for much longer than they should on any topic, really, but especially on this particular one, which you still know nothing about, making you regret every life choice that didn’t provide you with the most basic of knowledge on it—you briefly consider making something up. Something basic. Something untraceably false that will connect you to these people. But then you worry your nerves will inadvertently add hyperbole to your statement, making it an obvious lie, completely shooting a hole in your credibility as a conversationalist and overall human being. So ultimately you decide to stay quiet, and though it provokes a few wary glances, you accept them, for it has become clear that you simply cannot relate.

In the world of social media, “relatability” has become a key element in our admiration of others. We love the celebrities that share pictures of themselves sans makeup and in sweatpants, admittedly lazing it up on a Saturday afternoon. We love the moms that post horror stories about their children and the young adults that post picture after picture of their failed attempts at homemade meals. They post these moments and we repost them, delighted at their humanness, and caption them with things like, “this is totally me.”

When we find these shared peculiarities, especially with those we look up to in the media, we are given a sense of kinship and belonging. Suddenly the things about us we thought were weird are the very qualities that connect us to someone we admire. And as we see those personalities being praised and adored for their candor and uniqueness, we start to believe that we too have that same chance. So we share. We share and we share and we share. We tag and we hashtag. Hoping to be liked. But at what point in this process do we stop striving for honesty and start searching for relatability? When do our interests and our words start shifting away from what we believe and towards what we think others will enjoy?

This is where it seems that being “relatable” becomes less of a happy coincidence and more of a believed standard for acceptance. But isn’t it the raw honesty of a confession that makes a connection that much more surprising and meaningful? Isn’t it the shock value that makes it fun?

Why pretend you like decorative DIY pots when you’d rather put flowers in old Arrowhead water bottles?

Why pretend you know anything about classic movies when you’d rather discuss the newest episode of The Bachelor?

Why pretend you’re completely put together when you’re perfectly okay with being a hot mess (or vice versa!)?

Why pretend you like organic vegetables when you legitimately CANNOT taste the difference and you’d rather save $40 and buy the non-organic ones?

No matter who you are or what your weird looks like, the world would be lucky to get acquainted. And chances are, the moment you introduce yourself you’d find someone out there saying, “OH MY GOSH ME TOO!”

So stop trying to be relatable, be you and it will come naturally.