Right now, there’s a stranger in my bed.
Well, on the laptop screen on my bed. A few days ago, I learnt that one of the friends I made off of the internet went to primary school with one of my only friends from high school. The girl who called me a homewrecker in grade 8 and I are sending each other astrology memes. It’s a small world.
It used to be that you had work/school, you had your family and friends and you had yourself and these were all mutually exclusive and separate entities that made up your life. You’d tell your brother about a new anime streaming site you’d found but you would never share with your manager that you sometimes spend Friday nights drunk and facedown on your dirty carpets singing Ariana Grande songs. And only your friends would know that you were in love with a boy who wore jean shorts (it was only the one time, I swear!) but they would never know you resent his girlfriend for being the girl you fail to be.
It used to be like that.
But now the internet, social media and the era of unsolicited (yet somehow constantly demanded) vulnerability and openness has us living in this never-ending performance where you always have to simultaneously be all the 12 characters of the great truest self for a play that has no curtain call. Part of isn’t all #society’s fault.
My favourite young adult novels were always diaries and memoirs. I kept my own diary, pledging to be honest and brave and daring as I recorded what I had for dinner, the loneliness I felt around beautiful girls, how I was going to be art, with some reader, in the far future, laughing, crying and being with me through all of it. I have always wanted to live a documented life.
I will always be grateful for the internet, especially in my teen years when I could live a thousand lives through one screen. I could be a rriot zine girl with friends in Canada who lived in a Petra Collins photograph. I could be an emotional wreck who watch Strivers Rows poems all day and performed her own spoken poetry to the audience of a webcam and a desk lamp. I could be a punk, a health goth, a kawaii cutie or the greatest Sims 2 architect. I was growing, I was living, I was sharing.
And then suddenly it wasn’t enough to share the blurry photos of my outfits, I had to make money out of it. I couldn’t just talk about my heartbreak unless it was to help other people not feel all so alone. My work had to be my passion and since it was everything about me, of course I had to post about it on Instagram five times a day.
I can’t eat, sleep or shit without affecting a celebrity persona – how would this look to the viewers at home, I have to let the world know about my risotto, this angle and this filter will provide the adoration I so desperately don’t care about. I am under constant surveillance, everyone is always looking at me. But I rarely ever see myself anymore.
So my biggest 2020 resolution is to actually have a private life. You know, kick it old school and actually make a piece of art without wanting to tweet about how liberating it is. Cook a meal for my family and not parade it for the gram. My work, my eccentricity, my eyeliner won’t be all I am but just the extension of myself I allow the world to see.
I am going to live like no one is watching. Because, from now on, no one will be.