I’m in 7th grade. My first tweet is, “I got a 98 on my Hebrew test!” 

It seems like a good thing to tweet.

My Instagram username is Got2BeU after my favorite One Direction song, “Got To Be You.” I comment a fake story about getting pantsed in PE on a story time account’s post calling for embarrassing story submissions. It picks a winner from the comments. The winner is me. Awesome. I go to Disneyland and take a picture next to a poster of Cinderella. I post it on Instagram with the caption “twinningggg.” (Sure, I was blonde with an evil stepmother and awful stepsiblings, but I think Cinderella is a lot nicer than I was. And I’m scared of mice.) 

I post a video of me singing Disney princess impersonations on Youtube wearing DIY costumes. My account name is CircusDoll321. That’s because I did circus at my weird arts camp. My friend Lyndsi finds it and shows everyone at school. Not awesome. 

I’m in early high school. I’m well known in the metro Atlanta teen community for being funny on Twitter. (The only reason I say this is because one random dude at the one random party I attended told me I was funny on Twitter.) I steal at least 25% of the jokes I tweet from Tumblr. But the rest are me. Like when I tweet at midnight on New Year’s that my resolution is to make a quadruple chin, and provide this follow-up soon after: 

Peak humor for me is posting ugly pictures of myself. (It translated well at the time.)

I go on spring break and post a picture on Instagram. It is painfully obvious that I have edited my breasts to be larger than they are because there is blurry distortion in that region of the photo. My best friend from middle school texts me, asking if I had edited my breasts, citing the aforementioned blurry distortion. I reply that I edited them smaller because they looked “too big.” This is an obvious lie. After spring break, the guys in my grade look at me more. Awesome. 

I make Instagram posts for all my friends’ birthdays even if I am not genuinely friends with them. I look really good in the posts. I go into Kylie Jenner’s comment sections, spam-liking accounts who commented “L4L” and “Like for like.” My posts get more likes now. 

I become slightly less pathetic in late high school. 

I’m in my first year of college. I have stopped tweeting completely for several years now. I am, however, a master retweeter. A lot of people like my retweets. I have a great sense of humor. That’s good. 

I change my Instagram account from private to public. I put a purple-ish blue-ish filter over all my Instagram posts. Even though it looks forced. I must have a cohesive aesthetic. At one of LA’s most pretentious brunch spots I ask one of my sorority sisters, who is known as the social media maestro of our chapter, to provide her opinion on my feed. She says it’s nice, but too coordinated. 

In my second year of college, I stop putting the purple-ish blue-ish filter on all my Instagram posts. I become a master of Facetune. I write an op-ed for my school’s fashion blog about the façade of Instagram, using my old purple-ish blue-ish filter craze as a case study. Everyone loves it. I’m so real. I post alt-rock songs on my Instagram story. I’m so cool. I make sure to still post silly goofy pictures of myself, so people know I don’t take myself too seriously. This is so important. I post videos of myself singing. I’m so good.  

I make the decision to start tweeting again. I’m still funny. My first original tweet back is something like, “I can’t believe there were dudes named Justin walking around ancient rome.” I have a list of potential tweets in my notes app. Via my sister’s online shenanigans, I also enter the “MBTI personality test” side of Twitter. We all tweet about our personality types. I have the rarest one for girls, INTJ. We’re all obsessed with ourselves. Especially me. 

It’s the early Covid era. Everyone is insane – not just me. Covid does not have a large impact on my life, though, because I am already a hermit cooped up in my dad’s house living out my mid-college gap year. I’m still really good at Facetune. Everyone is posting embarrassing, highly filtered pictures on Instagram. Mine lean provocative. 

I’m still on Twitter. Except I’m not that funny anymore. I only Tweet about personality tests. When I’m not doing that, I’m posting very edited photos of myself. I’m feeling really ugly, but I’m having fun. 

(Everyone was digitally embarrassing at this time, so these statements ultimately don’t reveal much.) 

It’s late college. I’ve transferred. I’ve started over. So I archive every single picture I’ve ever posted on Instagram, except for a small yet mighty selection of highlights. For example, see below. I like this one because it looks like I live underground like a little mole rat. At the same time, my smirk is one of a pseudo-businessman wearing a burgundy velvet suit as he poses in promotional material for his online entrepreneurship course. I repost this to my story every year on my birthday. 

I post cooler songs on my Instagram story. I post classical music more because everyone needs to know that I have intelligentsia vibes. I post niche memes on my story so everyone knows I have a quirky, irreverent, absurdist yet smart sense of humor: 

Lest we forget. 

I post mysterious selfies on my Instagram feed, which is now on the private setting. I become adept with the latest face-editing app, FaceApp. It produces much subtler results. I look so beautiful. I am ashamed. I am unashamed. I draw the line at editing my body. I don’t do that anymore. I make it so no one, including me, can see how many likes my posts get. 

When I’m not torturing myself academically, I become halfheartedly hilarious on Twitter. For example, on April 21, 2022, I tweet: “Twelfth is such a freaky medieval ass word. How is it only 14% vowel.” I say half-heartedly because there is less thought involved. During this era, I conceptualized, wrote, and tweeted most of my posts from the toilet every morning while my Vyvanse was kicking in.

I start posting outfit videos on TikTok. Some of my posts get thousands of likes. In the comments, people note all the different celebrities that I look like. It’s so many celebrities. Everyone thinks I’m stunning. They comment “how do you look like this?” I’m not filtering my face in these videos, so that must mean they’re telling the truth. I’m ecstatic. 

Whenever I post a video that gets no likes, the embarrassment is so great that my stomach hurts and my heart pounds, and I delete it as quickly as possible.

Now it’s now. I turned 24 a few weeks ago. I’m in grad school. All my accounts are private. 

I don’t post on TikTok anymore.

I don’t edit my Instagram pictures anymore. I’m on my self-acceptance grind, I guess. And I post on my main feed a lot less. I still post on my story semi-frequently. It’s actually relatively normal stuff sometimes. I post my friend at a restaurant. I post cool nature pics. I still try to project my music taste onto everyone, but much less frequently, and much more genuinely. I post oddball, no context content sometimes, just to keep the masses on edge. Almost like I’m taunting the app. I post selfies that I do not edit. 

I tweet whatever comes to my mind, the second it comes to my mind. Even if it’s just a phrase, like “lowkey herbaceous.” Sometimes my brain is good enough to generate a fully formed tweet, such as “Running to class with Pristiq and Vyvanse rattling around my backpack like maracas.” I receive far fewer likes. I no longer care. 

But maybe I do. Because my pinned tweet reads “I tweet to lose followers, not to gain them. That is why I am so powerful. Love you.” No secure person would feel the need to make a disclaimer for why their tweets get no likes. And how evolved can I possibly be if just last month, upon listening to a cool song by Death Grips, my first instinct was to post the song on my story because I wanted people to know I listened to Death Grips? Even though I don’t. That was the first song by them I’d ever heard. I soon came to my senses and decided not to post the song. But the instinct remained. 

Generally, I feel like I’ve been more authentic these days, but I also feel like I am probably still projecting some exaggerated caricature of myself online: either so I can assert my uniqueness for others to admire, or so I can claim the potentially annoying or unsavory parts of my personality to take the power away from people who might make fun of me. Prob both. 

Either way, I’ve come to understand something: social media is a mode of self-realization. Social media only exists because people (me) want to be seen by other people. Every post is a projection of identity. For this reason, social media continuously forces me to reckon with who I am and who I’m not, and how that all aligns with how I showcase myself and how I want people to see me. (I don’t know about “continuously,” actually. I don’t think I was intensely interrogating any of my moral virtues during my botched Facetune era. But I am now. And that’s what matters.) 

All this rich introspection has helped me figure out just how important authenticity is to me, and how important it should be to others. (As we know, duplicity and falsity are not exactly celebrated by society, and for a good reason.) 

Parsing the authenticity levels of my online behavior has also helped me figure out who I am. And that’s something that everyone wants, right? To know who they are? 



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