(W)INTERNET INSANITY

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.41.28 AM
“Everything is going to be okay,” I’ve been saying on repeat. To myself, to other people, to stray cats, to no one in particular. Every year this happens, so it should come as no surprise. I have never ever been a winter person. I keep thinking it will change, that one of these Christmases will just be so spectacular that I am fully energized to take on the next year’s goals and resolutions with the gumption they deserve, all polar vortexes be damned. Despite the evident awesomeness that was my 2013 holiday season I can’t seem to resist the dark temptation to emotionally self indulge.

It happened a lot in college. When I wasn’t working on papers or in retail with no access to my phone, I would sit in my room bored out of my mind refreshing facebook over and over. There may not have been anything good on the internet, I thought, but I was going to waste my time with it anyway. And what would come of this? Not much, except longform analyses of every other person’s instagrams and tweets and profile pictures, and then my instagrams and tweets and profile pictures, and then their worth (calculated using an algorithm based on average likes, followers, and how much I happen to envy them), and then my self worth (which of course could never compete). The next thing I knew it’d be 3 in the morning, the skin on the inside of my bottom lip would be rough from gnawing nervously as I spiraled deeper and deeper into an identity crisisโ€“a crisis based on identities with no inherent truth or validity, mere projections of aspiration and constructed self imageโ€“at a speed so seemingly beyond my control it would begin to snowball into a fully formed depression.

Will I ever be as popular as her?
Will I ever have someone like him?
Who am I really? URLy? IRLy?
What is my value as a human being? Physical, spiritual, virtual?
Will anyone ever appreciate me at the level I need?
Why do I need it? Am I weaker than other people?

And this was before I had a smartphone. Imagine my chagrin years later, while isolating myself from the cold, to find myself in the same vortex of self doubt.

Truthfully, social media statistics are just a glorified version of high school yearbook superlatives socially accepted by adults. I frequently make the argument that who we are on the internet is no less genuine than the identity we construct in the physical world. To draw an inequality is to place too much inherent value on “the identity” itself, something that while we each cling to it for survival in a modern society, while we were raised as millennials to believe that each and every one of us is special and unique and important in a way that has never before existed, while fashion and music and the food we eat feelย like an outward expression of an internal truth, is merely a combination of options that have been decided for us from an incomprehensibly intricate social construction. How can the clothes that I wear and the words that I say and the people I consort with in the physical world be considered any more valuable than their virtual counterparts? The way that I look in person isn’t any more real than online (photoshop? makeup? plastic surgery? haircuts? the infinite ways I could choose to dress myself?). I have “known” people for years in strictly offline relationships that have never come close to the intimacy I have achieved with some online. The internet is as real as reality, people, which is to say, not at all.

There is quite a bit to be said for physical contact, though, isn’t there. Being able to touch the person you love and physically experience them is something technology has not quite been able to accurately simulate and a luxury I certainly long for every day in my long distance relationship. While I can place myself mentally miles away by digitally engaging 24/7 with people in another city (and I do), I cannot be satiated, cannot rest assured that I have not missed anything, cannot drift to sleep without a palpable loneliness and two burning retinas from staring at screens. What I do have that I don’t in “real life,” is the ability to stare at what I wish I had, who and where I wish I were, all day every day until I have ignored my physical life so successfully that I don’t even know how to go to the bathroom anymore without my phone much less carry on a conversation.

I appreciate everything technology has afforded me, but maybe I should take a step back. In high school I deleted AIM off my computer because I was unable to focus on anything but the alert sound I had set for my crush, and it was the best choice I could have made for myself. I focused on schoolwork, I made art in my spare time. Then Facebook came along and ruined all of that AND gave me access to the personal information of every person that has ever dated anyone I’ve ever liked.

I compare myself to my friends a lot too. I asked Alex how he was getting so many facebook likes on his most recent blog post (you know, aside from the fact that it’s great) and he was like “Take a look, I have far more friends than you. They’re coming out of the woodwork! I never delete.” I do delete. Until recently I was a big fan of the delete. Why would I want to afford a person access to my life if it serves me no benefit? Ah, yes, the curse of self-promotion. Or another I’ve been experiencing lately, the curse of the NEED TO KNOW. You know the Need to Know curse. A girl you don’t like lurks your boyfriend…her face and her words make you uneasy and defensive…passive aggression rules all of your interactions. There’s no reason for you stay connected to this person other than to “keep tabs on them,” or, more accurately, to feel bad about yourself. It’s Media Masochism at its finest, and what’s more, it says a whole hell of a lot about your trust issues, your level of self esteem, and in my case, a lot about how, despite my attempts to progress, I still partake in the patriarchal construct of a necessity for competition between women.

I want to be stronger. I want to ascend to a level of comfort with all my identities and lack thereof, namely the still fetal relationship I have with myself that I go to bed with every night and wake up with every morning. I want to be comfortable alone, in this physical space right here and right now. I want to look forward and face the fucking snow even though I hate it so much and remember that there will be a Spring, there will be a Summer, and that a time will come where I rise to the level of success and popularity and appreciation that I think I deserve.

And most of all, I want to remember that it all means nothing unless I can truly love my Self. In all its forms.

SEXUAL ABDUCTION

xmas96
I may be a little late posting these, but seeing as I’m still fumbling around my apartment in a post-holiday haze singing “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas,” I figured the story of the BEST HOLIDAY PARTY OF 2013/EVER IN HISTORY was still appropriate to share.

For those of you who don’t know, I host an annual (two years & going strong!) XXXMAS party along with Jeffrey Scott, Sarah Sassafrass, Boy Reverend and Katy at their home in Raleigh. Last year we had SCURRY XXXMAS, a horror-meets-winter solstice theme that wasn’t really visually embodied beyond Christmas sweaters, sequins, and leaving our Halloween decorations up alongside snowflakes and disco balls. This year, we wanted to take things a bit further. While drunk at my brother’s Martha’s Vineyard home over Thanksgiving, I texted back and forth with Sass about themes, before finally making the Facebook event and broadcasting over Twitter. We decided on XXXMAS: ABDUCTION, where all things extraterrestrial would meet all things festive for a gigantic hometown holiday explosion.

I was certain it would be a great success, but not without some stress on my part. For an entire year after Scurry, I could not manage to live down the fact that I had fallen asleep early and missed most of my own soiree. People I didn’t even know were giving me shit about it well into the Fall of ’13, a humiliation that was only tempered when someone I’d never met before invited me to my own party this yearย (it was just like that episode of My So-Called Life where Rayanne used all her money to throw herself a birthday bash except I didn’t OD in the end).ย Although this year I would be arriving in Raleigh four days prior to the event with ample time to prepare, I had my plate pretty full with family issues and, you know, nail appointments and going to Dave & Busters. I had already purchased my look (on discount, with the help of Moe Dabbagh) and had it sent to my mother’s Cary residence, but I was unneccesarily worried about the decor. Two days before the event, I showed up to 3801 to find unassembled bubble wrap all over the floor, some kind of PVC archway in the hall, and paint and paper everywhere. Half finished gigantic alien head drawings were draped on the couch. I was eating a Cook Out corndog and spewing out complaints in my signature “I’m joking but not” tone, and I was pretty sure Sass was *this close* to blinding me with spray adhesive.

“IT WILL BE GREAT. IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.”

Sarah and I, as distinctly nonverbal and verbal artists respectively, often have a hard time imagining the other’s vision.

“We’re going to use this paper to make a giant circle and be the space portal,” she half explained while stomping around the house draped in twinkly lights and waving scissors. Whatever you say, Sarah.

And damn if I didn’t underestimate her again. Let it be known that in the midst of a full time work schedule, not to mention herย final exam week, Sass still managed to spend 2 days cleaning and crafting to make the house into a full-on art installation. The Reverend’s PVC and bubble wrap creation had fully transformed the hallway into a Cosmic Ice Tunnel, and with the help of a few extras from me (a fog machine, an outdoor set up, 150 autographed extra copies of my Christmas card, and colorful lightbulb replacements in every room) as well as a few extra hands (Katy and Sass’s bro included), we managed to complete the setup by 8 pm on the night of the party…just before the first guests started barreling through the doors in packs. With the halls fully decked and LuxePosh on her decks, we were ready to leave this planet behind. Photos by Sarah Sassafrass for your viewing pleasure.
(Warning: there are lots. When Sass’ website goes public I will just link to it, but for now, enjoy the mass)
xmas3
xmas4
xmas5xmas6xmas8
xmas12xmas14xmas15xmas20xmas21xmas23xmas24xmas25xmas28xmas29xmas30xmas31xmas32xmas33xmas34xmas35xmas38xmas39xmas40xmas41xmas43xmas45xmas49xmas52xmas54xmas56xmas58xmas60xmas61xmas65xmas67xmas71xmas72xmas75xmas65xmas77xmas78xmas79xmas84xmas89xmas90xmas91xmas95xmas97xmas102xmas104xmas105xmas106xmas110xmas114xmas117xmas120xmas125xmas126xmas127xmas129xmas130xmas131xmas133xmas137xmas143

I didn’t exactly take a census, but I want to say…everyone fabulous in the entire state was there? I think we stumbled into a time warp or something, because the clocks were saying 5 am but I felt like the party had just begun. The next morning, feeling unexpectedly spritely, Katy and I went to Chipotle, and then Bojangles, and back home to eat in the wreckage. Sass was nowhere to be found and there was trash and barf everywhere. I was using pieces of painted bubble wrap as mini surfborts to slide across the slimy floors. My body suit was in a tangled mess and my autographs were strewn across the muddy yard.

As the sun was beginning to set on the second shortest day of the year, we finally located Sass. To this day, though, she prefers she’d remained abducted.
IMG_4350