After AM yoga my finger accidentally liked my Facebook post and I stared at my error like uh-oh because only one other person liked so my self-endorsement will be super obvious and it’ll be crystal clear that I’m self-obsessed and desperate so I stare at my iPhone screen while the car is idling in the driveway and I have this crucial come-to-Jesus moment where I freeze and I’m like what the hell am I going to do: should I unlike my post and undo the finger slip or do I let my accidental like stand?
Because I’m hungry and imagining eggs and because my finger wasn’t dexterous enough to unclick the like button and because the dog was in the backyard barking for me to come in I just figured fuck it I’m liking my own stuff on FB, why not, and then I shut the car door, skipped up the brick stairs, kissed the baby, pat the dog and cracked eggs into the frying pan.
That afternoon, after unliking my morning self-like, I text a friend: wanted to talk so I walked to your house and knocked but you didn’t answer so I looked in the window and your bed was made up so nice and neat, not a wrinkle, that’s impressive.
He texts: Thanks. Makes me feel safe.
I text: I feel safe when I go on Facebook and do Live Audio and say whatever I want. Safe and fully naked. Which is weird but true.
He texts: We’re naked in the womb.
That night. I sit in a graduate creative writing classroom. The lights are off. An old art film plays on a pull-down projector screen at one end of the room. I close my eyes because it’s 7pm and I’m tired. I close my eyes because I never get to take a moment, close my eyes, and just breathe. I cross my right ankle over my left knee. I feel the stretch in my right IT band.
In the next twenty minutes, I scribble three phrases that slap me into awake mode: “desolation in immaculate public places.” The smashing together of desolation with immaculate. So violent. So true. The contradiction of culture. “So much of adolescent is undefined dying.” Again, the juxtaposition. Dying with adolescence. Genius, because even if it’s not true, there’s truth in it somewhere. “This will be my undoing.” Yessss. A bald confession-contemplation. Now, present, ripe, unavoidable.
Honestly I unliked my morning finger-slip like because of social shame. Like how desperate. What does it say about me if I’m the only person to like my content? What does it mean to click like on your own posts? I have something like 2,037 Facebook Friends and I think I’m posting so manically that they all unfollow me. I think that’s a fair and likely possibility.
I can’t soapbox say that liking your own stuff is a valuable practice in self-esteem building. That’s bunk. What I can say is that I feel the razor edge I’m tiptoeing along. This cliff’s edge isn’t on any maps. But everybody knows where it is. It’s this dark cloudy rainy place where all you want to know is that you’ll have a future that’s meaningful and safe and where your basic needs are met. That’s all I want because that’s so uncertain, because the future is so foggy and glaciers keep melting. That’s why I click the like button…to fool myself into momentarily believing it’s all good.
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