Behind the screen I am anything I want you to think I am. I post pictures of me smiling, pictures of me posing. Pictures of the beautiful dinner I’ve said I just cooked. I post pictures of friends I say miss so much. I post pictures of holidays and distant places I say I am going to. I tell you when I am happy, why I am happy and what is going to make me happy next week. Five pictures a day, waiting anxiously to see if people will like them. Clutching my phone, waiting for the little red number to appear on the screen.
I count my friends, thousands and thousands of them. Most of them are only brief encounters, sometimes not even a hello. Just another number that makes me feel as though I am wanted, needed, popular. I like what they say not because I agree with what they say, most times I don’t even read it. I like it so they notice me. If I don’t like them I can be cruel too. The attention doesn’t just have to be good. Bad attention is better, it’s even more attention.
I tell everyone how sad I am when the latest celebrity dies. A person I don’t know, a person I’ve only just heard of. I have to show my grief for them though, join in with everyone else. Private grief, private recognition of someone’s achievements no longer suffices. I have to let everyone know. It doesn’t matter that I never cared for that person before. All that matters is belonging and being accepted. Or maybe I will say I hated them, perhaps that will make more people listen.
I look through other people’s profiles and see what they have and they haven’t got. See what they have been doing and what they haven’t done. Achievements and stories that I wish they hadn’t, not because I begrudge them, just because I haven’t done it myself. The happy, smiley photos. Annoying me because so many people like them, like their happiness. They like my happiness too, I just want them to like it more. Always craving more recognition.
And when I put down the phone, or turn off the computer, none of these people matter to me. They can’t see what I am doing now. They don’t care what I am doing now. Neither do I care what they are doing. The recognition, the likes, the attention is all for nothing. On there I am only what I want them to see, I am not the person that my family knows. I am not that person that craves attention. I wish I would take off the mask forever, but I will put it back on tomorrow and be the person they don’t know.