Recent stress over finals has amplified all of my other anxieties. Right now, for instance, I want to delete all of my social-networking accounts and move away from the internet forever. As a recluse and someone who frequently fakes sick in order to leave any event early, the internet is supposed to be my best friend: I can take time to find the right word when talking to someone. I can look at my crushes without the danger that comes with side-eyeing them IRL. Facebook, in particular, can be an invaluable tool during a significant transition, like moving from one school to another and communicating with people you’ve just met—it was practically invented for shy people.
But it also feels like this giant party where I don’t have the option of leaving early and texting everyone to say I got food poisoning from dinner. As much love as I have for Facebook chat and emoticon poetry, the fact that every major social event you attend can be commemorated with pictures that might be on your wall forever makes it feel like that event is never really over, like it’s a mega-event that includes EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER DONE. Whenever I start to think about the fact that people can look at photos of me from prom or my senior play, or read my conversation with someone else about babies’ mouths and their weird toothless gums, I freak out, because I feel like I’m always being observed. When I freak out in public, I hide in a bathroom or go somewhere where I can be alone. But I’m always visible on the internet.
I don’t feel nostalgia for times past when Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. I roll my eyes in a major way when someone says, “We’re all just so plugged-in these days.” It’s just that if I say something stupid when hanging out with people, it will hurt for a minute, but I can walk away and make an effort to not say stupid shit the next time. When I say something stupid on the internet, it’s going to be there for a long time. And if I wanted to forget about it, I would have to delete it, which would cause everyone to notice that I have a crippling lack of self-confidence, which CANNOT HAPPEN.
Speaking of the internet, last week I learned, courtesy of a White Castle advertisement I saw while checking my email, that fried-chicken rings exist in the world. I’m not shocked, and I’m not judging you if you like them. They just make me sad. They’re ring-shaped pieces of chicken that are deep-fried and sprinkled with ranch-flavored powder. Take a moment to imagine the employees of White Castle forming chicken meat into rings (which is how I assume this goes down, but I don’t know), dropping those rings into a deep-fryer, then pulling them out and covering them with powder (as if we can’t just dip them in ranch dressing in accordance with the popular practice), and tell me you don’t feel bummed? Everything on the internet is a bummer, even if, relative to other things, it isn’t a bummer. After trying to cope with everything else, I run into sad chicken ads? I may just delete my Facebook account and avoid sad chicken by going out and living in the real world. ♦