I’m not perfect and not everyone likes me
Ploy Kingchatchaval:Week Three
I nearly didn’t write a column this week.
Up until a few days ago, I hadn’t thought extensively about the people who were actually reading this column. When I sat down to write, the people I imagined reading were people I knew: my sister, my friends – because most of them were reading drafts full of drivel over my shoulder and sniggering/suggesting the insertion of penis jokes wherever possible anyway – people who get my sense of humour, who had been present for the anecdotes I was recounting. So when I found out recently that I could check the view count on my columns, I saw those numbers and I panicked.
Just like a character in one of those painfully clichéd Internet safety videos we were forced to watch in school, I imagined an endless sea of nameless, shadowy faces judging my opinions, staring stony-faced at my jokes, coming to conclusions about me and my personality over the course of my 500 words. It grew worse – feel free to imagine me hunched up over a glowing screen in the solitude of my bedroom to the soundtrack of an angsty pop-rock song for maximum cinematic effect – as those faces morphed into those that were horribly familiar. Someone I went to school with. Someone I ate lunch with one time last year. Someone I sat next to on a swap that got pissed off when I tried to steal his wine. Someone I got with in freshers’ week and never spoke to again. All these people had the freedom to read, and judge, the things I was writing. It was terrifying. The onslaught of writer’s block was immediate and intense.
I’ve talked about the permanence of social media as a comfort before: that leaving an unalterable shard of yourself behind on the Internet undeniably imparts some sense of reassurance, of security. But that permanence, and the completely public sphere in which it exists, means we always want that suspension of ourselves to be the best possible suspension ever, because it will always be there, and anyone can see it. Why is there such a difference between expressing an opinion in conversation and expressing an opinion online? Because the latter is quotable, rereadable, unchangeable. On the Internet, we expect to sell ourselves, to pick and choose what we want to show, and present ourselves in the most flattering light we can. After I saw that view count, I couldn’t get out of this weird headspace where I kept trying to perceive how people would perceive me in this gross perpetual circle of grossness (a technical psychological term, obviously). Everything I wrote fell flat. This week’s column started out as an impassioned tirade against gilets. It’s been a difficult week.
So my column this week probably (definitely) isn’t as well-structured or coherent or funny as I’d like it to be. But that’s my point, really. It’s difficult and tiring and entirely unrealistic to expect myself to present my ~*<< Best Self Online, All Week, Every Week >>*~ for eight weeks. I don’t want the impression that I impart on people who are reading this to be one that’s been revised to the point of glossy falseness. This week, I tried to reach some ideal plane of being where I was putting out universally-loved content that was simultaneously hilarious and opinionated, and it was crap. People aren’t always going to like what I’m writing, or even like me, and that’s fine. When we talking to people face-to-face, we don’t constantly curate our speech, or think about the perfect thing to say every time. We’re not expecting everyone we meet to deeply love every little thing we mention in conversation. So we shouldn’t do those things online, either. Making mistakes on the Internet, as in life, is inevitable, and we shouldn’t let our fear of fucking up stop us from doing things that could potentially be really great. At least, that’s what I’m going to tell potential employers when they inquire as to why I voluntarily captioned a photo of myself with a suspiciously orgasmic missive and let it loose on the World Wide Web.
Nobody’s perfect, I guess.