"It's not reality," said Vane as she yanked the laptop from my hands last night. "It's an alter-ego. " We were spending the night in because I was cranky and sick, and suffering from a weird allergic reaction to an Aleve I'd taken the night before. I reread a comment Sara had left on my page a few days earlier. Something about "This is Alejandra...always sexy." I looked down at my weird blue t-shirt and decidedly un-sexy splotchy hives and laughed. I know it's all fake, but it still has the ability to infuriate me like nothing else...With the exception of a few comment exchanges between my close friends or brother, I very rarely sign off of it feeling good. I hate the bathtub html, the cut and paste CSS, the slideshows going in 6 different directions, the glittery kisses, the animated gifs, the cascading hearts. I get so annoyed by those little quizzes that tell you what kind of a kisser you are or what kind of underwear you would be if you were a pair of underwear. I can’t stand those little tiny squares in neon colors that say things like “I’m a Bitch, deal with it” and “You know you love me.” I do not love you and I do not wish my girlfriend was hot like you. All the girls have very honest hips on MySpace and they’re all bringing sexy back. I’m not sure where sexy went in the first place, but it’s back…with a vengeance. And apparently, it loves the color pink.
This morning, as I browsed through my “friends,” I came across the profile of a girl I knew in high school. She and I were never very close then, but she was always very sweet and we hung out a couple times. I’ve looked at her profile a time or two and it always seemed to be dedicated entirely to her relationship with her boyfriend. What caught my eye this time was the main photo. I wish I could have posted the photo here, but even I have more tact than that. So instead I’ve used my stellar graphic design skills to recreate the image here:
In case you can’t tell from my expert rendition, it’s a professional Sears Portrait Studio type-photograph of her and her boyfriend kissing. They are both dressed up and standing in front of a backdrop resembling a fake sky. She is holding what appears to be a plastic rose in her hand. I clicked on the profile and found a collection of these pictures in various poses. I checked to see if she was engaged, surmising that this would be the only time when a couple might possibly feel compelled to take these types of photos. Upon finding that she was not, I was left puzzled. I sat there, clicking around as I sipped my tea, wondering under what possible circumstances would a girl actually be able to convince her boyfriend to shower, shave, dress up, and join her for an afternoon of glamour shots at the local mall. What kind of a guy would even allow this? I then moved on to the even more important question of why would you even want such a collection of photos? I realized quickly enough that the answer is obvious: to post them on MySpace.
And that’s when I started to realize what it is that I hate so much about it. It’s high school all over again. And not the nerdy parts that I loved (like quiz bowl matches, English class, or the newspaper), but the parts that I hated—the pep rallies, the fights over who wore whose football jersey, gossip in the lunch room, notes on lockers. It’s the girls BFF Vanessa, Sara, and I couldn’t stand. The ones who lined their lips with brown eyeliner and screamed things like “Bitch I fuckin’ love you” as they ran down the hallway. The ones who fake-and-baked and rented Hummers for prom.
Now don't get me wrong. There are things that I enjoy about it. I like that I have been able to reconnect with a few of my cousins and older friends that I hadn't heard from in a while. And I love that you can download free songs and videos from the music section (especially now that iTunes felt the need to up its prices). And there are a few very clever people out there with nicely designed pages and well-written blogs that I like to visit regularly. But most of the time it just feels like I've wandered into a contest meant to show how sexy you can be and how cool your friends are and how much fun, fun, fun we’re all having.
The surreptitiousness of it also gets to me. There are times when I get comments from friends on my page and it doesn’t seem that they are really there for me, but rather for the benefit of others. I’ve actually had friends admit to me that they posted a comment on my page so that “X would read it” or “Y would notice me.” It just all seems so immature and petty and silly, and yet the thing that I hate most is the way that I find myself getting pulled into it too.
At age fifteen I managed to deftly avoid these things. But here I am, nearly 10 years later, and I’m suddenly finding myself quickly drowning in this pixelated maelstrom.