This is a piece I wrote reflecting today’s social media obsessed culture.
I hesitate before posting. There are enough hashtags and all the right ones there. #girl #brownhair #gettingready #nightout #love #drinking #makeup #redlips #photooftheday #happy #smile #fun #selfie.
I check the photo over to make sure that I have smoothed out all of the imperfections on Photoshop. I check that my skin looks perfect even though I have primer, foundation, concealer and powder on. I check that the lighting is good and does not clash with the filter. I set the filter to Mayfair as I have read that it is the most common filter setting of the most liked pictures. I look at the photo from a distance, my shoulder length brown hair falls perfectly while my head is slightly at an angle. My eyes are a piercing sea blue and my cheeks are perfectly bronzed, while my red lips provide a great contrast giving followers and other users many different motives to like it. The fashionistas will love the edgy red lips, my friends will say I’m pretty, make up gurus will appreciate the skill taken to apply my gel eyeliner on top of my eyelid and underneath my eye, the boys will think I’m fit or hot or whatever term they use these days. Secretly, I’m hoping for the comment #worldie.
I take a breath and click post. I wait twenty minutes before checking it again while I get my outfit, shoes and clutch ready. This has now become a ritual in to my getting ready routine and I have to allow an extra half an hour to ensure that there is time to do it. After all, I can’t guarantee how the photos from the night will turn out and if there will even be any. If there isn’t, it’s just a waste, after all people go out to be seen and in this modern age, a cyber-presence is just as important as a physical one.
Twenty minutes later, just as my dad is calling me ready to take me to Ellie’s where we will predrink, I check back on the photo. Fifty- two likes and two comments. I sigh, it just isn’t enough, and I examine the photo again. I can see a tiny dark spot on my face. Will I never learn to check my editing more thoroughly? Then I realise I posted it at the wrong time, everybody would have been too busy getting ready to go out, you must always post it around the time everyone is in the taxi on their way to the club, when they have time to flick through their social networks. I roll my eyes. Damn. That was a rookie mistake. I can only hope people are making long journeys tonight so that they will scroll down their feeds for long enough to come across my photo.
Dad looks my way,
“You ok?” He asks looking concerned, “You seem quiet tonight.”
“What’s the matter? One of your photos not got enough likes or something?”
He’s joking yet I still feel angry at him for making such a joke, it’s not a laughing matter, can he not understand that?
It’s important that I come across as perfect online where I can airbrush every bit of my life. I don’t spend hours of my life editing my Facebook profile just so it can be laughed at. I want people to envy me and take joy in admiring my amazing life. It’s like having your own front page but you can design it and control what is written about you and what people see. It is the ultimate cover up of any flaws in your life but also the ultimate tool of acceptance and authorisation of your life from your peers. I am well aware that I am promoting a perfect life which may not be entirely true to form. It’s a reflection of how I want my life to be, how it could be perfect and that’s not false is it? It’s like being able to edit your life so that it is perfect, who doesn’t want that?
I arrive at Ellie’s, the other girls all there, all dressed up. We all of course like each other’s selfies and I check my profile again, seventy eight likes, it’s improving which is a relief.
The next morning we wake up and upload pictures and posts of how we’re feeling. Unfortunately, Ellie has ended up with a huge bruise on her leg so we document that and in roll the sympathetic comments. We moan about our hangovers although I refuse to post any pictures until I’m home and can edit them- why risk getting fewer likes?
The girls moan about my reluctance to post any photos until I’ve edited them. I can see their frustration and they tell me it’s fine to post unedited pictures and I know it is but I just can’t let myself go like that.
You see, there is no feeling, quite as good as your picture being up for fifteen minutes and it receiving one hundred and fifty likes , it feels like fame but in the least intrusive way possible. I can post a quote by an unaccredited person and it can get reblogged over and over. I am popular online and there are people willing to listening what I have to say, eager to see what I post and click a button to say they enjoyed a split second of happiness or empathy from my post.
We spend so much time perfecting the image of our lives that is broadcast to people we barely know, and convincing them that we live a strong and happy life rather than actually being happy and actually living real life.