“What’s on your mind?”: frantic, overshare-y thoughts on me vs. my facebook feed

Here’s a confession: every time I add a new Facebook friend, especially one who I’m keen to impress for whatever reason, I am seized by a sudden fear that my feed–filled with selfies, KPop, classical music memes, and makeup–presents a picture of a vapid, self-absorbed, “me”-llennial (as the Gen-X and Boomer thinkpiece-writing keyboard warriors like to call us).

I mean, it’s not an entirely inaccurate picture: I curate my Instagram; take tons of photos of myself, healthy drinks, and quinoa bowls (or a combination of all three); and don’t exactly have anything on my feed about saving the world, or being profound, unless it’s posts about how profoundly dumb I am at my job.


(Long-time friends and co-workers, I know that because you are loving, caring people, you don’t like it when I call myself “dumb” but:

1. You haven’t heard my so-called “inputs” during video-call meetings with our Facebook account manager and, 

B. Let me have this moment. It is the closest I will ever come to being a standup comedian.)

Recently, I accepted a (surprise!) Facebook friend request from someone that I was extremely keen to impress (for reasons I do not think I can ethically discuss), and was overcome with the existential dread that comes with realizing that, outside of occasional “conversations” where I make two to three awkward, nervous jokes (tops!), said person’s idea of who I was, as a person, would be based on this narrow field called a Facebook timeline. A field, which, I’m going to be honest, is less about what fuels my introspection and more of whatever floats my boat when I’m not having an existential crisis about work or turning twenty-six in a few days or whether or not I have been setup for massive failure and anxiety because, when I was younger, I was told I was “destined for great things,” but now here I am at ALMOST THIRTY still living with my mum and auditioning for KPop reality TV.

Oh, hello existential crisis. Let’s pretend I didn’t see you coming.

Thing is, if you meet me in meatspace and maybe give me five minutes of your time, you’ll know that despite the fact that I have the rapid-fire, awkward yappiness of a toy-sized dog with a bladder problem, I’m not just shallow, self-absorbed, and frivolous. I have deep opinions on things other than the necessity of sunscreen (though if you say you don’t need to use SPF I will fight you) or whether or not Kim Seokjin has secret abs. And I know that’s not just me: some of the most articulate, interesting, and profound people I know have the feeds of bored thirteen year old memelords. Because, yes, at heart, they are bored, thirteen year old memelords…but that’s not all they are.

I don’t know if this post had a point when I started it, but in writing it, I’ve kind of, like, realized stuff. (Yes, that was a Kylie Jenner quote. And yes, that was a shameless bid to look #relevant.) Specifically, in a culture where we pre-screen acquaintances via Facebook “stalking” (in the words of an acquaintance, “It’s not stalking if it’s public information.” And no, that acquaintance was not Joe Goldberg.), maybe we should take feeds** with a grain of salt. Facebook–Messenger or the main page–can’t really take the place of an IRL dinner and sangria (or coffee and donuts, whatever) when it comes to figuring out who a person really is, what they’re interested in, and whether or not they’re actually interesting.

Which is to say, at twenty-six, maybe instead of mooning over green lights on my Facebook contacts list, I should actually give people a chance to get to know me in person, and to get to know them in person too.

Maybe 2k19 is the year I decide to get out more. 


(Fat chance.)

~ F.

**No promises about profile photos and captions, though.

Can we not talk on Messenger, please?

Disclaimer: I have nothing against Facebook Messenger. I think it’s extremely useful. A good 80% of our office’s communication happens on FB Messenger, because it’s quick, convenient, and everyone is on it. It’s really, really great for getting in touch…

…just not getting to know someone.

I met a guy at a gig a few Saturdays ago. Since I’m about 70% sure I will never talk to him again (my messaging style scared him off, but more on that later), I’m assuming it’s okay to talk about him. Anyway, I won’t say anything unflattering, precisely because there is nothing unflattering to say. I thought he was kind of cool. He showed up to the gig–it was actually an art show slash open mic that I played emcee for–in a short-sleeved, well-cut(!!), white button down and skinny-fit chinos (as opposed to every other guy’s t-shirt and jeans; call me a superficial human bean but I appreciate classic closet game). He smiled a lot. He was willing to try on my cat-ear headband and let me take a photo of him in it. He struck a really, really awkward pose for that photo. He makes good art. He likes Neil Gaiman.

Best of all, he didn’t seem to mind talking to me, and I felt comfortable talking to him. This is no small feat, considering I am basically five feet and three-point-five inches of social anxiety.

In short, I kind of liked him. Not like-like, to use the grade-school turn of phrase, but I thought he was interesting (which is, BTW, totally different from being interested in him; wag maging assuming pls)I liked him enough to exchange Facebook friend requests (because who asks for numbers anymore?) in the hopes we could continue the conversation online. And we did!

For about a day.

Here’s what I don’t like about Facebook Messenger: there are no non-verbal social cues. This is totally fine if you’re messaging someone you know, or messaging someone at some ungodly hour of the night when those cues don’t matter (shoutout to my friend AJ, king of extremely random late-night FB convos), or both. It is not totally fine if you’re messaging someone that you are trying to get to know. IRL, you can tell when someone is laughing out of genuine enjoyment or just to be polite. With a “HAHAHA” or an emoji…it’s a little harder to tell???

If you’ve read my open letter to any potential new friendsyou’ll know that, despite all my claims of being an antisocial cactus, I actually like meeting new people and getting to know them. Not only is being able to connect with someone a sort of catharsis for my inner awkward teenaged loner–who literally had zero friends and had to eat in the school’s back stairwell–but people can be genuinely interesting. I like asking them questions, finding out what they do and like and think about and seeing where those things intersect with my own internal landscape. The meeting of those people may be intimidating and anxiety-inducing and downright terrifying, but once we laugh at the same joke or share a smile or I watch that spark of recognition flicker to life in their eyes when I mention something they love too…I mean, it makes the whole torture of meeting people worth it.

And the thing is, I can be really good with people. Scarily good. Mistaken for an extrovert, or someone who is confident and has her life together (apparently this is the first impression I gave my friend John, to which I reply with: AHAHAHAHAHAHA) levels of good. There’s a reason why I’m usually the default emcee when my org has events: the frantic energy that makes me overwhelming can also make me funny and entertaining, and I know how to be the latter and not the former when I’m working a room or holding court in person, where I can watch people and pick up on their cues. I can say things that might look awkward in black and white but don’t sound awkward because I can control the way I say them (you will not believe the stuff I’ve gotten away with saying just because I’ve said it super casually; inflection is everything).

I can even–gasp–shut up and settle into companionable silence. At least, until the next window for conversation can open up.

On the internet, I have none of these options. All I have is a screen, a keyboard, and the tyranny of read receipts. Silence can be golden when it comes to in-person conversation, but online it literally reads like a death sentence, a hard stop to any interaction. I can chatter on and on in someone’s ear and they might find my anecdotes entertaining, but in Messenger a string of essay-length blue bubbles looks less like animation and more like desperation. My conversation style does not translate well into the digital world.

I guess that’s why the bulk of my friendships are due to repeated, frequent, in-person interactions. Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that it’s possible to get used to me, to see past all the weird and find me tolerable and even likeable, especially when I’m at ease with myself, which I can get when I’m interacting with people in meat-space and am able to autopilot my conversational instincts. Shift a conversation to chat, though, and I am a mess. My friends, again, can attest to how downright hesitant and anxiety-laden I can be via chat, constantly asking if they’re mad or if I’m bothering them simply because I’m unable to gauge the context of their silences.

(The only exception to this rule is if they message really late at night, when I’m too tired to keep the filter on or care about it being off. Some of my best Messenger conversations have happened when I should have been sleeping.)

I don’t think I’ll ever sink to the level of those angry baby boomers who rant about how social media and “those darned millennials” are ruining society as we know it, but I can definitely say that being forced to conduct the “getting to know you” stage on Facebook Messenger has ruined a number of my chances at connecting with people I’d genuinely found interesting. Let me tell you; few things suck more than knowing you’d probably have hit it off with someone if you weren’t such an awkward blue bubble.

(Or, well, gray bubble.)

(Whatever. I swear, I’m a lot more interesting–and a lot less awkward–in person than I am as a bubble!)

At any rate, consider this an open invitation to the next person I meet at a gig or a party or whatever: instead of exchanging Facebook addresses (though we can totally do that), can we please go straight to arranging to meet up again to talk? Let’s pretend it’s 1995 or something, and ditch the internet for in-person.

I’ll even spot you a coffee.

(And if we do have to resort to that infernal chat window in the interim, then please, for my sake, just take my enthusiasm at face value. I swear on the honor of my family cow, I’m not hitting on you. I JUST REALLY, REALLY LIKE FUN-FACTS, SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOR, AND MAKING PEOPLE LAUGH. I literally built my entire radio persona on those traits.)

(You would have gotten to know that–heck, you would have gotten to know I used to be a radio DJ–if I could have just! Held off! My anxiety! A little bit longer!!!)

*cue self-loathing*

[I’m INFECTED: Life As a Virus, Inc. Intern] Hey Young Bloods, How Does It Feel? (Or, the blog about the redheads of strat.)

4/5!  We’re nearly there!

It wouldn’t be a complete record of my Virus internship if I didn’t blog about the new blood we got this summer.  After months of being the sole intern of the HQ,  this summer I–along with the rest of the team–was very happy to welcome Nicole and Gerard in the Creatives Department (Kitchen), and Dani, Pao, and David on the BD/Strategy (and, coincidentally, UA&P) front.

As my newfound lessons in socializing hadn’t kicked in by then, I have to admit I pussy-footed my way around the new blood.  I didn’t quite know how to treat them: we were united by our status as interns, and in Dani, Pao, and David’s case by our school, but at the same time I didn’t know them very well, and was worried that any overtures would end up looking “plastic” and fake.  I even felt reluctant asking my fellow BD/Strat interns for help, because I didn’t want to make it look like I was “bossing” them around due to my more “senior” status (having been in the company for several months).

Referencing another internship–which coincidentally also happened in the summer–meeting my new co-interns for the first time felt a lot like meeting my Project TALK-mates, only with the added pressure of being known–at least by association–as one of UA&P’s “crazy ViARE kids”: a distinction confirmed when Dani was asked what her first impression of me was.

For the most part, though, my worries were unfounded.  First, on the Creatives Front: I sort of expected never to get to know the interns here, because I spend most of my days on the other side of the office (with their own interns, the Kitchen no longer has constant need of the #CrossFunctional one, *cue sadface*), but while I didn’t get to know Nicole very well, I did get to chatting with Gerard due to him being, like me, a music-geek and band-boy, which led to a ukelele jam session where I learned how to play “La Vie En Rose” à la “The Mother” in HIMYM.

On the BD/Strat front, there was a bit of pressure because I was expected–by the members of SMN, no less–to “take care” of the new interns, since I was from UA&P and, in the case of David and Pao, from the same institute.  In this case, I had to play “ate,” no mean feat for a girl used to being the “bunso.”  Thankfully, Virus duties gave me an out–as I’d previously trained as BD intern, I was tasked to instruct both David and Pao in the drafting of prospecting emails, while fellow redhead Dani, being Strat, sat in with me on brainstorming sessions and, guided by Rashmi’s instructions, we eventually started working together on pitch decks, with Dani doing much of what I’d first started learning when I began at Virus (drafting content and researching data, among other things).  Work became our initial bond, and when Pao left and David, due to summer classes, deferred his official start date to the 24th, it continued to be the connection that kept conversation flowing between Dani and I.  As in theater, a shared duty made speaking easier, and while I was an awkward “ate” (Dani, if you are reading this, I am sorry for all the motherly nagging and weirdness.), I appreciated Dani’s quiet strength and quickfire mind for content, as well as her fast and (relatively) silent work.  I also admired how she got on much faster, and with more casual-ness, with the other Virus people–an easy sociability that I tried to learn by osmosis.

As Dani came from IMC, she was invaluable in the more complex pitches, as her marketing/advertising knowhow, let’s be honest, far outstripped mine.  The concepts of insights and big ideas–things I was still grasping at straws for, on occasion–came naturally to her, and she was quick to confirm or deny the validity of my attempts at hitting the mark.  There were still many times when I felt apologetic for asking her to do things for me, or not being able to answer her questions fast enough–my frazzled mind, dealing with the BAP project post-thesis, became a bit erratic–but thankfully, she took it all in stride and never faulted me for asking for help.

Most of all, it was nice, having someone who could relate to both my student life and intern life, around, and sometimes it was very hard to remember that she hadn’t been around for only a few weeks–she was such a steady presence that very early on it felt like she’d been around forever.

Only she hadn’t been, and wouldn’t be.  Which leads me to update 5/5…