Click. Scroll. Click. Scroll.
She's gorgeous. Look at that tan. I wish I had her hair. I bet she has her pick of boyfriends. Everyone wants to be with her. It must be so cool to be popular. I want her closet. She partied in Ibiza? She probably has really chill parents. That's her room? There isn't an outfit she doesn't look good wearing. Why can't I have a boyfriend like that? She has a flat stomach without working for it. Isn't that a new purse? She probably doesn't even work. She looks flawless. I bet she has everything she wants. Why can't I just be her? She's supposed to be such a bitch.
Click. Scroll. Click. Scroll.
I need to upload a new profile pic soon. Should I do the one where my lips look fuller like hers, or the one where my thighs look thinner? And which filter? Is my caption original enough? Is it even funny?
Every status, photo and like on social media is a choice. Often a choice on which we've deliberated for at least a few minutes. For every selfie posted, there are probably 30 other selfies that didn't make the cut. Do I look pretty enough in that photo? Is my status witty enough? With each act on social media, we are creating an image of ourselves -- the person we want to be.
This isn't necessarily bad. It's not as if we're trying to be a Catfish and misrepresent ourselves, in most cases. We're simply trying to put the best versions of ourselves out there, or are we? We troll the Internet to look at our acquaintances and use them as models to try on different aspects of their persona. Sometimes it feels like Mr. Potato Head. I want those eyes, these ears and the casual flippant humor of that girl I met at the party. Are we showing the best aspects of ourselves, or are we creating an avatar, like we do in virtual world games?
And so we cut and trim our rough edges to shape ourselves into someone we think is more desirable. But as we hone our cyberspace persona, something seems wrong. We all want to be that girl and that guy, the one everyone wants as their friend, or wishes they could date. And yet, as we're looking through the Facebook albums of that girl, we realize we hate her.
Maybe it's only jealousy. Maybe it's not. It might be something more that that. We don't understand it, but you know it's not just you. Your friends hate her guts too, and it baffles them as well. All we know is that we want to become something we hate.
How did it get this far? We realize that it's so strange. We idolize someone we hate. We change ourselves to better fit that version of perfection we have in our minds, and, yet, we fundamentally want to be liked for who we are, and we certainly don't want to be hated. We teens in our most introspective moments talk about our closest friends as being people who know us well and accept us for what we truly are.
This is a paradox of the modern age. We so intrinsically want to be accepted -- and, yet, we don't have the confidence that we will be accepted as we are -- that we spend enormous effort being someone else even though we aspire to be a person we, and our closest friends, would actually not like. And here you thought that high school was hard!