I’m about to get really real.
It’s extremely hard in this day and age of insta-reality to promote your brains instead of your looks. Consistently, week after week I publish my column on my personal Instagram account to a whopping fanfare of 5-15 likes if I’m lucky. However, posting a photo in a slinky dress exposing my legs and a sultry pout with a face full of makeup and a lyric from a mediocre rap song easily nets 150. This has to be one of the most soul crushing things for me.
First, as someone who already struggles with intimacy issues, it’s quite difficult for me to allow people in past the base layer. I’ve become quite skilled and comfortable with easy light banter, and even discussing things other people consider “intimate” with a flair of comedy; things like my sex life or bodily functions. But it’s all a defense mechanism to avoid talking about things I do hold close-my body image issues, my family struggles, and my still broken heart just to name a few. But these are things I discuss at length in my column. Physically taking these things out of my brain and releasing them on paper is very cathartic for me. I work through a lot of indecision and internal conflict simply by working it out in print. The act of creating a flow chart of my problems usually leads to a bit of resolution by the end for me, because I’ve been forced to read and examine the issue at length. To bare my innermost insecurities for literally the entire world if they wanted to read it takes a lot of courage for me, and to have so few people even acknowledge it sucks pretty bad. Hell, my best friends don’t even read it, let alone like or comment.
Which leads to my second issue with this. Receiving hundreds of likes on a vapid “hot” photo “living my best life” only confirms my worst fears about myself-that I’m actually not intelligent, or witty, or worthy of love from others beyond physical attraction. Which, people finding me attractive doesn’t sound like a bad problem to have, until it hits you that you’re not getting any younger and looks fade. If I have nothing to offer people now except my physical appearance and I’m still alone, what chance will I have when that is gone? That thought process begets a whole new wave of anxieties and insecurities, like trying to fight gravity and Father Time without going bankrupt.
It also just flat out pisses me off that this is the world we live in. So many people now scream about “women supporting women” or “equality” or “nonconformity,” and yet one quick search of the top Instagram accounts dispels that idea. Top female accounts in order: Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, J Lo. If you think these gals are popular because of their poetry, you’re an idiot. These women are all carbon copy clones of the same prototype- ethnically ambiguous looks, scantily clad and manufactured GoodYear-sponsored butts, over-stuffed glossy lips and slanted fox eyes, striking sexually seductive poses and dripping in luxury clothing. I’ve got 20 bucks that says if they stopped posting the usual content and began writing their innermost thoughts and fears their numbers would nosedive. Because THAT content is too real. But what can you do; sex sells baby. And I have no problem with that, but let’s please all stop pretending that we actually DO want to cheer on strong, intelligent women for their brains, when, based on our actions, it seems we only want to see the ratio of their photoshopped waist to their perfectly airbrushed rear ends.
I genuinely think people just don’t want “real” anymore. It makes them uncomfortable. Now that we exist in a space where algorithms provide us only with more and more of the content we find agreeable, it’s not pleasurable to see “reality.” These damn filters won’t go away. I am totally on board with smoothing your skin or cinching a bloated tummy here and there, but when you cannot even post a video of a food truck without using a “Sasha Soul Art” lens, there is a problem. We’re NOT all out here living our “best lives.” Every day isn’t all sunshine and glitter and workouts and delicious food and quite frankly, perpetuating that lie is detrimental to others. Because now everyone feels like they’re doing something wrong because their life isn’t as fabulous. It’s important to show the gritty; to show that for every $300 meal on a glittering rooftop during sunset, there have been at least 20 meals crying over Tupperware alone on a couch looking at a negative bank balance.
But apparently no one wants to read about that. They just want to applaud the façade.
In a day and age where there is a phone glued to every hand 24 hours a day, here’s a thought- don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. If you have the capacity to like every photo of some stranger Instagram model you’ll never meet the second it hits your timeline, then you have the time to like and share your friends’ art while you’re on the toilet.
Or don’t. I guess at the end of the day, I should really ask myself why the external validation of people on the internet is so important to me. I suppose I’m just as basic as everyone else- I want to feel loved and heard and like I matter.