by MADDIE BROWN
Social Media 01 by Rosaura Ochoa | Flickr
Instagram stories are digital voyeurism, a pacifier for your passive curiosity. Does that make you a creep or a human? Probably both. Relax, everyone’s at least a little bit psycho. Is she a vegetarian? Is she fucking that dude? She’s posted drunk videos, opinions on Israel, and close-ups of boobies. Let’s do the math: She’s a leftist art hoe who’s most likely an alcoholic. Don’t get too carried away. Or do, because you know everything! No, no. You’ve learned everything. But you know nothing. Isn’t it funny how personal we get on here? Isn’t it funnier how not personal it all is? Silly boy. They’re handles, not humans! Maybe a sneak peek quells your desires for authentic connection. Maybe you’re uninterested in authentic connection. Hey, that’s okay too! Your brain atrophied years ago from your PornHub addiction. I’m not judging you. :) I’m way more burnt out. Promise. Have you stopped reading yet? Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you don’t respect me. Maybe you don’t even know me. Maybe you don’t want to hear my thoughts. Or maybe you do so you can laugh at them. And jerk off to them - hey, maybe that’s what I want too.
How much has the Internet squandered your capacity for empathy? Like, on a scale of one to ten?! There are no wrong answers. Remember: you’re a genius...I’m just a dumb little online slut ;)
I’m trying to be less online. I used to yearn for connection. Now I just yearn for conversation…offline! OFFLINE! I’m re-discovering tangible beauty. Simple things, like the sensation of hot water on my hands, the sounds of dogs barking outside. Goddamn. I’m so desensitized it’s fucked up. Social media feels like stuffing myself with candy corn. It tastes like shit but I’ll eat it anyway. Trick or treat! For bullshit! Not all content is meaningless. It just all becomes meaningless in a clusterfuck of nauseating pixels. That’s why I quit my job, where for hours, I had to scroll through TikTok and Instagram like it was a 100 meter dash. It made me physically sick. Like beyond vomit emojis. When I called my boss to quit, he was jarred by my seemingly random decision. “Everything’s going well on our end. What’s going on?” This is destroying my mental health, I responded. Too many pixels. “Have you started seeing screens in your dreams?” he asked empathetically.
Much of my content is meaningless! Shameless, sexy, stupid. Maddeningly indulgent. That’s one point of view. Sometimes my own. LMAO! I’m not being hard on myself. I’m being honest with myself. I love myself, if that wasn’t clear. I do have meaning in my life, I have to have meaning in my life, my real life. Or else there’s no meaning at all! Then I open the app and there IS no meaning at all! We’re all just screaming into one giant void. Lol!
The online persona can be horrifyingly convincing and sickly brainwashing. As the very niche digital identity (which I’ve observed forms from a continuous accumulation of consistently specific, repetitive images) develops, the facade takes on its own psychology … like a real person! The tiniest fragment of self becomes hyper magnified and ready to be eaten alive! Is this me? Have I become my persona? Why am I still engaging? Just for fun, I guess. Sometimes —no, often — the performance is fun. Super fun! Ha, I love existing only online. Social media is the only place for a specialized kind of existence: ironic memes and hot selfies. A unique kind of personal freedom! Escape from reality! Or insertion into reality? It’s 11 pm and I’m bored and brain dead. So let me share some stuff. For your personal pleasure ;) I relish in the pleasurable amusement and absurdity of objectifying myself online. I don’t consciously curate; I do what I want when I want. But my impulsivity is news to noone, not even user65! I’m a free spirit and it’s written all over my grid! This is kind of silly. But be careful of silly things. Because the playground quickly gets dangerous. The fun isn’t so fun anymore! As the persona takes on a life of its own, people may misinterpret your intentions. All kinds of people! Perverts, predators, and close friends! No, I didn’t mean that! No, I don’t want you! Careful - this may lead to bizarre and sometimes devastating consequences. Like, are we online or IRL anymore? Who knows! Who cares, really, haha.
Oh! By the way! The entertainment industry wants to know: are you a freak?! If you are, you better be the right kind of freak, you know the kind they can profit from. Companies want to know what you’re doing, how you’re representing yourself, how many followers you have. OnlyFans may not help here. Sorry agent, gotta pay those bills! Being sexy online! LMAO! The need to conform yourself, to match an image is as rampant as ever. It’s a consumer hungry game that either celebrates or shuns your “individuality.” Lately, I’ve been more mindful of “individuality” online. Is it possible to really absorb people for who they are, and not what they represent? I know this is a kind of generic, impossible question, but I recently had an experience that made me think optimistically. But it’s far too poignant to responsibly capture. And I’m lazy. All that social media depleted my brain chemicals. But stay tuned - maybe next time. ;) see ya online ;)
[I’ve always craved distance from the virtual world. Lately, I’ve been acting on it. When I walk down the street, I often remind myself that we’re all going to die. It’s the shock my system needs to see beauty again.]
Maddie Brown is a writer based in New York City. She has published articles on platforms such as Baeble Music and Psych Central. She is the co-founder of Undun Magazine, a behind-the-scenes digital platform that profiles a variety of unique artists through candid photos and interviews. She loves writing about culture, social media, and existentialism. She's also an experienced actor with a passion for experimental films. Website: maddie-brown.com