They want me to pay $67 a month for internet. I could probably call them, fight for two hours, get it knocked back to about $50, but really it’s going to be just me here for the next four months, and apparently going to a dermatologist to get your fair skin a once-over does not count as preventative care, and there are other bills to pay, too, and a move coming up spanning potentially thousands of miles, and I have emergency internet on the phone, so. I don’t need it.
What’s definitely going to happen after November 8 is a total Facebook blackout. It’s the transience I can’t stand, the effervescence. When I post this, it will have a six-hour lifespan, the algorithm gods determining which of my Friends will see it on their timeline, and then after that window, about 24 hours for my Close Friends to see it, and then it’s gone. My dog peeing on a telephone pole has a deeper footprint than that.
So my own motivation to post things is slim to none, but I still find myself scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. 99% of what is posted only confirms what I already know about my Friends on my list of Friends. 1% is significant news, stuff I actually want to see or know. A couple I used to work with just had their baby. These are interesting, creative people, and I’m glad they are together, I was around for their beginnings and I saw their marriage come and go on the social media highway and after 41.5 weeks her baby finally joined the world and now I know that too and am glad for this as well. But here’s the thing. It would have never, ever occurred to either one of them to reach out to me and tell me they either got married or had a baby. I am not on their radar like that. I would not have called either one of them up, either, to let them know I am now married.
And this is all probably innocuous, nothing more than a way for me to pass the time. But, ignoring for a moment how awful that is, wasting time, what matters more is what they don’t share. What I never see. There have been two pictures posted of the new mom holding her baby, and in each one she looks as calm as a clam at sea, slightly disheveled but otherwise selfie-perfect, right there on the delivery bed, just minutes after somehow ejecting a ten-pound stowaway out a one-pound emergency exit. Also, practically all of her pregnancy photos seemed to take place in a flower garden. And he never posts anything about her beyond his undying love, the dumb luck of finding her, their impervious happiness together.
I’m not trying to single them out, because everyone does this. I certainly do this, too. This selective editing. I just think the cumulative effect is damaging. I don’t often remember, when I see them drift past on the scrolling scrolly scroll, that he is one of the most high-energy people I’ve ever met, and that being around him is always entertaining but sometimes very, very trying. And if you’re his wife, there is definitely an added complication there, like now you are also complicit in whatever effect he has on the room he walks into, because he always has an effect on that room, sometimes uncomfortable, and so sometimes she has to check him, remind him, this is too much right now, tone it down. Sometimes she’s tired, herself, I mean she’s gotta be. She’s a painter, she’s got to need some alone time, some quiet time to be in her own mind. I’m sure, too, though I don’t know her as well, that there are things that she does which remind him she’s not perfect either.
I don’t feel bad pointing this out about them, because really I do think they are one of the absolute best couples I’ve ever seen get together. But even them, is the point. Even their online presence is at times more fantasy than reality, and so if this is the picture book I’m burying my face in for sometimes hours a day, this has to affect my expectations of my own reality, doesn’t it? Anything less than perfect becomes unacceptable, because I don’t see anyone else dealing with what I have to deal with, so something must be wrong with me, with my life, with my relationships. Yes, cropping a photo can make the contained image more appealing, but if all you ever get are cropped photos, you never see the full picture.
This is the current state of my life, best exemplified by my house. The safe space I have to take a postable photo is decreasing by the day. I’m a natural procrastinator, and the thing about the Social, Sharable world is that it lets you get away with procrastinating, so long as the angle and lighting are right. If I’m sitting in the correct spot, I could FaceTime with the pope and not feel the slightest angst about what he’d think of me. But goddamn does this house need cleaned. It’s getting to the point where I don’t know what’s carpet and what’s animal fur.
So. Because I’m already so deep in the well with this election, I’m going to see that through, because social media is the quickest way to hear about the news there. But after that? I don’t know what news I’ll want to know about so quickly anymore. I can say goodbye to at-home internet, at least until next baseball season. And if you care whether or not I know you just got married or had a baby, you can email me, call me, something.
It’ll be okay. We’ll get through this together. Well, I guess not together, but individually, we will survive.
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