There’s a strange kind of guilt that is associated with social media, a guilt and a shame that stems from a feeling of self exposure and vulnerability. It overwhelms me sometimes, the feeling that I have shared so much of myself that there is nothing left for me because everyone’s consumed me already and I’m left hungry and hollow. I want to pull my secrets back from the universe, sieve them out of people’s memories but I can’t and it’s nobody’s fault but mine. But the temptation to share is so strong, it is this hanging fruit, just dangling blurry on the edge of my peripheral vision. It promises me affirmation, human connection and I just want to pick it and devour it and have its seeds grow inside me… but it never delivers its promise, it just rots and dies, turning my insides into mulch. There is no connection in social media because I am not not human in social media. I am an avatar of myself talking to other avatars. I am myself 2.0 or 3.0 or whatever point-oh I’ve reached to at that particular time in my life. We look at each other through pixels and pixels carry no meaning, no warmth, just an endless illusion of both – a convincing parody of could-bes, a mockery. Because, you see, I can’t brush the back of your hand through Skype, I can’t count your eyelashes on snapchat, I can’t smell that mist that rises from your skin and clothes… that odour? That scent? That welcoming nasal orgasm that precedes you. I know this and yet I try to bury this realisation as far back into the recesses of my soppy sodding sad head as I possibly can, back among the nightmares and the perverted fantasies, because to accept this as true would only magnify my loneliness and remind me…
I surround myself with these avatars to keep me from realising that I am, really, very lonely. Ghostly tendrils crawl out of my brain, gasping for someone and they grasp at air and slither back, disappointed. I fill this yawning with words and words and words and words, letting my tongue slap against my cheek and rub against the inside of my lingual braces until it is a raw, red and bleeding member pulsing in my mouth. Only then can I feel like I have accomplished something, that I have filled up that quota of necessary interaction, whether real or an imaginary parading in front of a reflective window. The sharp taste of iron spreading in my mouth and turning my teeth red is the taste of success. Or… not even success, just satisfaction. The satisfaction of an item checked off a list and nothing more. Like when you remember to buy milk.
I look for people to blame for this state I’m in. Some days I will shake my fists at The System. This global capitalist system, I will tell myself, encourages isolation and individuality. Man (woman?) must be alienated from their surroundings in order to function more efficiently in a capitalist society. The individual, I will go on (knowing in the back of my mind that this is all pseudo intellectual bullshit) must be DIVORCED from any sort of meaningful existence so that the void within them can be nurtured and encouraged to buy shit, the shit that’s clogging up my wardrobe, the shit I can’t even remember buying (a metallic red skirt, why?). Other days I will cast my blame on Society. Yes, I will mutter at the mirror, it is Society that forces me to conceal my TRUE self and pushes me to conform to a very narrow sexist, racist and downright disgusting stereotype of what it assumes to be the Prime Human Form. It is this struggle over control of my narrative that creates tensions within my self and results in anxiety and self loathing. Hah! I will scoff at my reflection (a little bit manically I’ll admit, but usually there is no one around to witness these episodes), that is it! An inherent tension between the individual and the group, a tale as old as time…
And then, perhaps in the darkest times, I will point a long crooked finger at myself. The fault lies within, I would whisper in the dark (it is usually dark when dark thoughts creep in, it is both a scientific fact and poetic prerequisite). I am the problem. I am a disturbed individual, born backwards or upside down, cursed by an ancestor of an ancestor, mishandled by a midwife or damned by heaven. There is something wrong with me, or else why does it seem like everyone is going about their lives as content as coco pops while I’m sitting on this leather worn, fart riddled chair typing in 8pt text and clenching my jaw so hard I could break a molar. Or why do I slip my hand under my pillow at night and imagine it grasping the cold metal handle of a pistol, imagine the smell of the gunpowder as I pull the trigger, imagine the overwhelming smell of blood as… Why does that image send me to bed relaxed? Why is a question I get very often. Why, Eman? Why are you like this? Why do you do this? Why would you say that? Why, why, why, why, why, fucking why as if I could have all the answers, as if those very same questions haven’t been dancing across my mind for years now, as if I could just smile and open my mouth and spill a thousand secrets about WHY. If I could I would gladly plaster them all here now, print them out and bind them and display them proudly on my bare chest. There is a shame that comes with not knowing why. That is why I cover it with the vapid shame of social media, because at least online I can create a Myself that I can explain, that I can back up with references and a nice linear narrative, because it beats the shame of not knowing why.