I found myself the other day lamenting that I had not received much buzz on Instagram lately, and I thought that I had better post some more photos. I looked through the recent photos I had taken on my phone and decided that none of them were particularly good enough to garner the likes I was craving. Let's make no mistakes, I was definitely craving those likes. I liked to think that I was above all of that, but in honesty I am not. I know that the things posted that gather the most attention are food, bodies, and pets. I decided on a photo of my cat. I love him dearly, and he is adorable, so it scratches the itch. The problem here is that I wasn't posting something I liked because I wanted to share a glimpse of my life. I was solely posting something to get attention. Granted IG is a tool, and you can use it however you feel like it. I do not think there is a wrong way to use it. I just felt cheapened by what I was doing.
I have also changed my username on IG countless times (current one). I want something that is creative and witty, something that expresses who I am, something that stands out, but doesn't limit my appeal. I want the perfect, unique gem that will make people like me. In fairness to myself, I have the best self esteem I have ever had in my life currently. That does not stop me from wanting more. That would be like a rich person declining money because they have enough of it...
One of the other issues that I have with Instagram is the faux familiarity that I gain for the people that I follow. I develop an attachment to this person I have never met. I feel like I know them. I know their life. I know what they are trying to accomplish. I celebrate their successes with them. I commiserate in their setbacks. I am so happy that they nailed that yoga pose, made it to Thailand, beat their own PR at crossfit. I forget that this person has no idea who I am. I forget that I only followed this person because they posted an underwear shot and looked like I can never look. I forget that I have never met this person, and likely never will. Plot twist: Since moving to NYC, I have actually met, or at the very least seen in public, several of these people. Let me tell you, that is a great way to fuel your insecurities. When you have convinced yourself that these people only exist in some far off fantasy land, and that they are not real, you have comfort. Then you end up sitting next to one at brunch and chatting about mundane worldly things. It shatters the illusion. It brings them out of the internet and into the flesh. It then makes you reevaluate yourself, and unjustly compare yourself to this fantasy person in the flesh. Then they start talking about their ex, RandomHOTTY486 on IG, and of course you know all about the breakup because you have followed both of them for years. You hear that RandomHotty486 left them for some new guy, who you know is DaddyPaysBoysBills15 on IG. You remain attentive and pretend like you know nothing about this person. In truth, you don't know anything about this person, but you do know EVERYTHING about this persona. It's such a bizarre situation to be in.
For January of this year, some friends and I deleted our gay dating/hookup apps. One friend did so in an attempt to force himself to connect with people in the real world. Another did it in order to budget his time in existing relationships versus always looking for the next or most convenient thing. My reasons were a little different. I do not like the offerings from those services truth be told. I am not interested in sex from a vending machine. I want to know something about a person, before I shed my skin. I view the apps as an electronic extension of the bars. I am more or less alone in that viewpoint. So then I find myself starting conversations that quickly devolve into photo exchanges and then drift back to the obscurity of the internet. To say that I find that unfulfilling would be a gross understatement. The saddest part is that every woof, every new message, every unlocked album still floods me with validation. Someone likes me. Someone thinks I am sexy. Some random stranger approves of me. Then there is the minimal 'interaction' followed by the ghosting, which just makes the entirety of the encounters that much emptier and meaninglesser. I have met some great people through the apps, and am still friends with a few of them. Those gems are a minuscule percentage though.
I have watched several of my friends at a bar that see a man that they find attractive and then immediately fire up Gruffler to see if he is on there. If he is, then they find something in his profile to dismiss themselves with. If he is not then they decide he is either a weirdo, or straight. It doesn't matter that he is wearing a hot pink Cum Dumpster crop top. He is obviously straight. I have also received a message while I was at a bar, from someone else at the same bar. The message was asking me if I was at the bar. When I replied that I was, the guy mentioned that he was also at the bar and that he saw me. I put my phone away and walked around the bar until I found him, and I said hello. He was terrified. He had no idea how to interact with a human without the aid of wifi and a keyboard.
I also get super irritated when I am out with friends for a night on the town and every time I look over, they are on the apps trolling for sex. (I won't even mention the times that I spotted a date that was on the apps...) Personally I do not understand this. To me, there is a whole room full of potential people to interact with. Talk to someone. Flirt with someone. Compliment a stranger on their whatever. I know it may not lead to that exciting tryst with ThoTMasc4MascIhaTemyselFF24, but you might actually make a connection. The conversation may not go anywhere. The interaction may not go anywhere. You might get embarrassed. He might be with his boyfriend. NONE of that matters. The potential connection is all that matters. Interacting with another soul is what matters.
I realize fully that I am writing a blog about the ills of seeking likes and that I will be posting it to my Instagram and my Facebook. I realize that this is exactly the type of behavior that I am decrying in this post. Even though I recognize the ills of this system, I am still a participant. I can not help myself. I may want to sanctimoniously rise above it all, but in honesty I still crave the attention. I love the attention. I love the Nightlife... I want to Boogie... On the Disco ro-ound.