Tonight my face was featured on the JumboTron. Why I was in the vicinity of a JumboTron is incidental; for the purposes of this story, just imagine that I have one in my bedroom.
Seeing my image up there was exhilarating in a way that terrifies me now. To my knowledge, my face has never before been 10 feet wide, but I think this is the scale I’ve been trying to effect on Facebook lately. As I’ve plundered the site this past month, looking for ways to appease my loneliness, I’ve slowly gathered that it’s not other people I’m so desperately seeking, but a proper presentation of myself. I’m longing for what? A self who makes sense in the context of all these other selves doing busywork outside my apartment. If I could only get it right here, in these well-trafficked places, then I could sit solidly in my chair and be someone calm and important. Tonight, as I primped in the bathroom mirror, I told my mom, “I finally figured out how to make my hair do. It didn’t do before, but now it does.” I feel that my internet persona strikes the same shallow register as my enhanced body of hair. At this point I’m just fluffing random parts and spraying product in all directions, hoping for some degree of positive attention.
Darren Hoyt recently wrote a blog post about anxiety and the internet, inspired by an N+1 piece published last November. As I grapple in Virginia with my book’s many empty pages, I think about bullshit websites and my presence on them. When you dance from place to place, you’re not forced to uncover meaning in your surroundings. When you tangle with identity only here and there, you can’t authentically untangle yourself (I know, First World Problems, fuck it). I realize that I’ll never write a good novel with one foot still in Facebook, but I rationalize that the constant distraction of web browsing is productive insofar as it makes me hate myself better, which I am told is good fodder for fiction. Ha ha, totally kidding.
I’m going to try to bring this all together now. Wine is not my friend this evening and Pandora has confused me with one of his other lovers, a pretentious electronica DJ.
Hours after my face darkened the JumboTron, I expected to be recognized by strangers in the street. “It’s really me! The one with the giant head!” But peoples’ reactions were surprisingly muted. Therefore I came home to Facebook, which I knew contained my biography in a comforting, manageable, place-holding format, where my life will stay put until I’m brave enough to venture off screens both small and jumbo, and put something right and real on paper.