It all started with Facebook’s “status update.” You’d update your status to let your Facebook friends know what color your poop was that morning, share your totally original and necessary opinions on current events or pop culture happenings, or indirectly convey your mood with a deeply meaningful song lyric. Completely innocent, right? Wrong. So wrong.
That seemingly harmless status update made you feel important, like you were publishing your own little tabloid for everyone to read. “My Facebook status got seven likes! I am so cool and popular!” That’s what you’d think while touching yourself after knocking a status update out of the park. Don’t deny it.
The seed had been planted, and the cursed reign of social media had begun.
Then came Twitter, which is basically a never-ending stream of status updates, the biggest difference being that you can follow not only your real life friends, but total strangers and celebrities as well. Self-obsessed celebrities bought into Twitter hard — much harder than they did Facebook — and things really started to get ugly.
Timmy followed Justin Bieber. Sally followed Rihanna. Before long, Timmy was tweeting mirror selfies of his partially-formed abs with an awkwardly emotional expression on his face, and Sally was sub-tweeting no one in particular with stuff like “Bitch you don’t know me! #saltyhoe #blessed.”
Some of Timmy’s 126 followers saw his tweets and thought, “Timmy is just like the Biebs! Bitches love the Biebs! I should be more like Timmy and the Biebs!”
Some of Sally’s 224 followers saw her tweets and thought, “Sally is just like Ri-Ri! Ri-Ri is a bad bitch! I should be more like Sally and Ri-Ri!”
The way celebrities use Twitter to market themselves (and stunt on haters) began to rub off on their impressionable followers. Average Joes and Jane Does started emulating the style in which some of the most famous people in the world operate on social media. But the snowball of sad didn’t stop there. Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. Rumor grew of a shadow in the east, whispers of a nameless fear. And Instagram perceived its time had now come.
Of course everyone needs to see those two super cute enchiladas you’re about to inhale, you fat fuck. Hook those enchis up with an Earlybird filter! Your dog is wearing a little sweater and looks like a person? Fire that fashionable canine into the Instagramosphere! Bored at your desk? Gram that desk! People need to see your fucking desk! #deskswag
Instagram took everything to a whole new level of weird. At first it was relatively simple, albeit a little silly, filled with photos of food, pets, sunsets, and motivational quotes. But then the fucking celebrities showed up, and it stopped being about connecting with friends, and, just like with Twitter, became more about following (and pretending to be) celebrities. The line blurred even further. Months turned into years, and it went from being silly to seriously delusional and unhealthy.
Look, it makes sense for Kim Kardashian to post her “outfit of the day” on Instagram. She’s Kim Kardashian, one of the most famous people in the world, and has more than 20 million followers. She also has a backside the size of a Prius, and gets paid infuriating amounts of money to wear and mention brands you’ll never be able to afford. You, on the other hand, are just some chick in Ohio with a normal-sized ass and 826 followers. No one cares about your #ootd. Kim posts pictures flaunting her ass and tits in skimpy gym wear because she’s a sex symbol, and that’s how she makes money. You are not a sex symbol. You are a normal person.
That’s the real distinction that needs to be made here. You are not Kim Kardashian or Rihanna or Kate Upton. You are not Justin Bieber or James Franco or Drake. You are not a celebrity. You’ve never won an Academy Award or had a #1 hit single or funded a hospital in Africa. You’re just another oxygen sucker slowly ruining the world one shitty click of your smartphone or keyboard at a time. And that’s fine. But pretending to be something you’re not or using social media to create an online identity that’s nothing like your real identity is just ridiculous. Eventually, your fake online persona and your real self bleed together, and you become this walking, talking advertisement for a person who doesn’t even exist.
Americans have been obsessed with celebrity culture for decades, hence the unbelievable success of reality TV shows and TMZ. That obsession is driven by the natural human desire to feel special, to feel like you matter. Celebrities are clearly special and they clearly matter; otherwise, they wouldn’t be celebrities. (At least that’s the train of thought that millions of Americans have.) As a result, people dream of stardom and fame. Once social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram, opened the floodgates and let the general public not just peek behind the curtain, but walk around backstage and get a more intimate look at the lives of the celebrities they obsess over, the ability to do the next best thing, pretend to be famous, became easier than ever.
Now we’re all sitting around judging each other, and, more importantly, ourselves, based on how many likes or retweets or double-taps we get. It’s insane. We no longer have the ability to just live our lives. That’s not enough. We need everyone to KNOW and SEE that our lives are better than theirs: “Look at my sheeeit! Look at all my sheeeit! I’m doing stuff! Cool stuff! Way cooler stuff than you! Sheeeit!” It’s gotten completely out of control. Everything about social media has become a popularity contest. And I’m not sitting up here on my high horse and judging like I don’t engage in some of the same dumbass antics I’m pointing out here, because sometimes, I, too, forget that none of this shit matters at all, and have a moment of self doubt when one of my Instagram posts doesn’t get a certain amount of likes. It’s truly pathetic.
I’m not saying social media is a terrible thing in general; it depends entirely on how you use these platforms. I maintain friendships with people through Twitter and Instagram that otherwise would’ve been lost years ago. Just don’t let social media take over your life or define who you are. Don’t pimp yourself out for likes and retweets. Don’t tie your self-esteem or identity to any of that nonsense, because none of it is real. You, on the other hand, are a real person made up of flesh and blood, with real friends and real families, so go out and make some real memories instead of spending a half hour taking mirror selfie after mirror selfie until you finally get one that you deem hot enough to post. Just because Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber does something does not make it okay. In fact, it probably makes it not okay.
When you’re dead and gone, nobody will give a flying fuck how many followers you had or how many likes you got. But if you spend your whole life posting pictures of your abs, tits, or ass all over the damn internet, people will certainly remember that. “Man, Timmy and Sally were real losers,” they’ll say at their dual funeral after they both die in a car crash after attempting to take a selfie together while driving. Don’t end up like Timmy and Sally..