I sat down in front of my computer and typed rapidly into the most dangerous of blank digital canvases, the Facebook status block. “Right now, this very second, my life is exceptionally good.” It was a humble-brag. It was information nobody needed. I didn’t care or think about it, other than acknowledging it was a true feeling. I wrote out the words, I hit 'Post,' and a sea of 'likes' I’d done nothing to garner came flowing in. I was awash in a room-temperature tidal pool of good feelings. I was only one gram of self-awareness aware from ending that post with “#blessed.” I probably could have gotten away with it too. Priest’s kid and all.
On Facebook, at least on my particular corner of it, something happens when you express happiness. It’s counterintuitive to almost everything I know about the sad, sick world of the internet. Because, people like it when you’re really happy. At least, they are likelier to express their enthusiasm for your happiness than you might expect in an age where every other online dating message you get is the verbal equivalent of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
I’m not turning all What a Wonderful World about Facebook, do not mistake me. I mean, Facebook and those upon it like it when you’re miserable, too. But that’s a sort of mostly silent, reptilian-brain kind of liking. I speak from experience. The only thing more palliative than being on the receiving end of a boat-load of ‘likes’ from friends in the third degree, is the quiet wonder of scrolling studiously through the far-too-available private and social history of that girl who dated that boy you danced with once in middle school.
I’m not trying to write something substantive about social media. There are people who went to school for that. I am not one of them. In school I studied Latin, Clowning, and Playwriting. I’m under-qualified to talk about society and the things we do and how people are. So instead of doing that, I talk about myself. I talk about the things I do, like play with kittens, eye-fuck strangers, and take anti-depressants in a hope of attaining some sort of normalcy that is palatable to me. I talk about how I am busted up, in various pieces, but getting better.
Before, when things were really bad, I didn’t have a filter. I shat out whatever I thought onto Facebook, on Twitter. I poured my heart out in this haphazard way. When that got too hard, I artfully arranged words that would do no harm. I look back on this stuff now, on how I was a year ago, and it all seems either desperate and phoney or just really, really sad. The saddest part of it all to me are the silences.
My virtual social life has that in common with my handwritten journals -- it’s the stuff that isn’t being sprawled all over the page like perfumed shit from a perfumed butthole that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It’s the unwritten posts between “smell ya later” and “long day” that make my stomach hurt. I write everything down, I tell everyone everything. I do it because I’m worried if I don’t, I’ll start lying again. I do it because I worry that if I don’t, I’ll stop talking altogether and sink back into something dangerous but familiar.
But I’m entering a new-ish phase now (I know, how many phases are there? Jesus, it’s exhausting to be alive -- awesome at times, but tiring, yo). For the first time since I leaped screaming into the arms of social media, I find myself trying to figure out what to share and what stays quiet. I wonder often now as things in my life change what, if anything, is mine, just for me? What do I keep close to my heart? Is trying to carve out a piece of privacy a good thing? I think it’s probably a good thing, but it feels so strange.
I used to share every thought that sprung up on my brain like some sort of greenish oily acne because I couldn’t leave it alone. If I didn’t tell everyone everything I was thinking, it would stay with me. And what a waste that would be since all I seemed to be capable of was trash-talking myself or bludgeoning my own hopes, dreams, wishes, jokes, and strangeness, Maxwell’s hammer again, only this time it’s made of adamantium.
Today writing out that I was happy and not saying why should have felt disingenuous based on past postings. Becca tells everyone everything! Becca is desperate to be understood and adored and heard! But it wasn’t disingenuous and it didn’t feel that way. The voice in my head that hates my guts is still there, but she’s otherwise engaged at the moment, throwing rocks and breaking the window panes in abandoned brain-houses. With her so busy, there’s space for the rest of me to creep out into the sunshine and ask for what I want.
I want to keep being happy, I want to have things that I feel inside and cherish. I want to love myself and I feel like I’m close. I want to love somebody else and be loved in return. So I’m trying that out, I’m seeing what that feels like for real, and that’s mine. A healthy secret, a positive silence -- it exists!