There’s a weird self-popularity contest that comes from social networks. We’re all looking for more followers and likes and comments. Our self-worth is wholly reliant on +1s and thumb-ups. Everybody’s trying to climb over each other in this digital playground, clawing and screaming to get one more “hit.” It’s a currency of clicks. If only they’d print and mint pageviews in paper notes so we could stuff our wallets with them until our pockets stretch like our bandwidth.
And we mock the silliness of it in our online blogs (remember to like this on Facebook!), and in the Irony Age it’s all okay. We lol at our own hypocrisy because everybody does it, and deep down we all know why we do it. Okay, maybe I’m speaking too broadly here. I know why I’m doing it.
I’m blogging because of The Truman Show.
I don’t know if it happened when I walked out of the movie, or later, when I heard a kid in my elementary school insist he was “living the life of The Truman Show.” Whenever it happened, it triggered a deep-set, narcissistic paranoia that I’m not sure I’m completely over, and this blog isn’t helping my case. Anyway, it became pretty much obvious that I was the star of some impossibly elaborate TV show. In every mirror, a camera. Every friend an agent. I would look at the clock at school and catch it stopped, only to continue ticking once the Director realized I was on to them. Clearly time would slow down or speed up at the whim of the Director, to lengthen my torment and shorten my entertainment. Tormented protagonists are more interesting, after all.
So I made it my mission to disrupt audience expectations. I would start to predict the plans of the Director and deliberately choose a different path. It’s probably why I inwardly cringe when a cliche moment is playing out in real life and I have to ruin it to prove to myself that I’m not a dancing monkey that follows the obvious road because it’s been conveniently placed in front of me. I realize now that my habit of ruining my chances at (cliche) romance with goofy jokes probably steers me more towards being a tormented protagonist than if I gave in and went with the Director’s romantic/perverted intention.
But that’s not important.
I know it looks like I’m a paranoid nutjob, but I promise I’m not. I always knew, logically, that none of this was feasible, and, in fact, it was borne of some cocktail of narcissism and neuroticism. And from that cocktail came an intoxicating desire to be creative and unexpected.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought he was the star of an Orwellian reality show. What I’m trying to say here is that there is an essential narcissism that comes with thinking that anyone would want to sit down and watch our mundane lives. That they care about our thoughts, our dreams, our behaviour. That complete strangers yearn for any information about us that they can find. It makes us feel good to think that our behaviour when we’re alone is getting admiration and laughter from some family in a living room somewhere in Wisconsin.
They’re a family of pageviews. They’re likes. They’re re-tweets, and pins, and follows. They’re an arbitrary, invisible, yet quantifiable measure of feel-good points. They aren’t real. It’s all masturbatory. It makes us post and tweet and blog and.
And here I am.