She stared at her phone screen, and it glowed against her eyes as she took in her image on her facebook site. People were always telling her she needed to be more active on it, that they wanted to see her more, but everytime she went on, she felt this sinking feeling.
She was an embarrassment. Every time she saw her picture, everytime she posted something or commented on something, she felt it. She should just shut down the whole site and run away from this whole internet interaction. At least when she was around people, she didn’t feel so self-conscious. She was thinking about the other person, not herself. But these days, whenever she was around people, they were always on the phones. It pissed her off.
But more than that, it made her afraid. Afraid, because if she was forced to come back here again and again, forced through these jarring interactions, she would expose herself too much, show people her real self, and they… they would tear her apart for it. People were about as gossipy and ruthless as she was ashamed for her differences and the body that hides them. Because that’s what she saw, looking at her photo. A face, a body that represents a whole. A smile so still it appears fake, the body too exposed by the clothes wrapped around it. Legs filled with sexual presence, arms filled with vulnerability, face belying too much sorrow. Everything too exposed, as she stretched on the grass, reading.
The book revealed too much, too, for those who knew. And there was those who knew, had to be. Catcher In The Rye, the book about Holden Caulfield, the character everyone she knew hated, who she alone loved because she felt like she knew him, was walking around in his life, in his skin. She could tell no one else this, but here was the evidence. She tapped edit, then choose facebook photo. She had to show a different self, she couldn’t be that girl, who looked their nose down on everyone and hated them; she knew it was all in her head. At least, she needed to show them a different her.
She scrolled through her pictures, saw pictures of her with friends, family… lots of scenery; she liked to keep the focus off herself… places she’d been, things she’d done… “I don’t know…” she sighed. She picked one close by, that was good enough. She stood by the side of the frame, crowded by a restaurant her family had taken her too. It was an unintentional shot by her brother, just as she was turned towards him. He had uploaded it with relish, telling her, too, that she didn’t have enough photos up on facebook. But part of her remained certain he did it just to embarrass her. Little brothers are so cruel sometimes.
She knew there was nothing particularly wrong in this picture, but her hair was too messy, her eyes too bright, and she tapped back. Find another photo… she thought, and kept scrolling.
Out of desperation, she almost chose a plate of food, if only to obscure her face, but she knew how that would look to the outside world; it would look like she was hiding. And from a world that demanded her presence, she knew that wouldn’t do, so she continued down.
Finally she found it, a group shot from school where she was reasonably hidden in a sea of faces. They had all taken a picture in front of the library during free period, and she pictured right from the centre, surrounded by her group. She chose it, cropped it, and stared in satisfaction as her eyes flitted from Alex to Sara to Jessica, and all around at the friends surrounding her, avoiding her own face completely.
She exited the app. There, she thought. Maybe that oughta hold them a little while. It wasn’t a post, but she really had nothing to say, so she’d just have to think about it a while longer.
Partly inspired by this.