This is a piece that I wrote and shared at Syllable: The Reading Series, held monthly in Hartford at La Paloma Sabanera Coffeehouse. This month's theme was "Bogus." Inspired by the masked world that social media can sometimes be, I chose to write a satirical piece on the bogusness that can lurk in Facebook status updates.
Hopefully it's clear that there's a lot of biting sarcasm in here and that I'm certainly not passing judgement (I am a social media fiend and guilty of many of these scenarios), but instead, making a social observation on the TMI world that we live in. Again, it's satire.
Hope you enjoy!
I’m going to call “bogus” on that recent flurry of Facebook status updates about how “amazing” your girlfriend is, how off-the-charts smart your baby is, how sad you are that you’re leaving that dead-end job you’ve been whining about to your Facebook friends for the last three months.
Bogus. What really happened? You are in the dog house with your girl and feel that some virtual PDAs about how she is the best, prettiest, smartest, most incredible girlfriend EVER will get you back into her arms — bed — whatever the goal may be. Or, even bigger bogus, that’s her posting on your account, and though it makes you feel awkward to have that schmoozy stuff out there, you know damn well what would happen if you pull it down, so the status stays. Don’t worry, we know it’s not you, it’s her.
You’ve been posting about how clueless your airhead boss is, how your colleague plays Words With Friends all day, and how the office kitchen always smells like day-old Chinese food. Suddenly, it’s your last day and you “heart” all of your co-workers and are going to miss them soooooo much? Um, bogus. That translates to “See ya later, suckas!”
Your two-month old said “mama” while cooing in the bathtub today? Bogus. I’m pretty sure it was gas and you are delusional, but hey, if it makes you feel better to say that her first word was your name then post away. Your newborn smiled and laughed when you played Carly Rae Jepsen for him today? Again, probably flatulence, but I won’t rain on your parade.
Update: “Friday night in by myself with a bottle of pinot noir and a Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon. Ahhhh, perfect.” Again, bogus, this is just you trying to make yourself feel better for having put your pjs on at 6pm since all your friends ditched out on plans. Well, actually, that one’s not so bogus, it sounds like a pretty perfect Friday night to me. Carry on.
That photo of the tarragon roasted duck with demi-glace reduction that you cooked for supper? You make it sound so effortless with that photo caption about smoothly hosting Sunday family dinner: “Soooo nice to have all four of my siblings and parents here for dinner. I love cooking for them! [Smiley face emoticon]” What you forgot to mention is how many ducks it took, how you swore through the whole process, singed your pinky on the roasting pan and are so pissed at the pile of dishes, pots and pans you’re left with that no one offered to lend a hand on.
It’s funny how you never post pictures of the hot dogs, bowls of cereal, and pizza bagels you eat for dinner every other night of the month. What you wanted to say was: “hosting sucks.”
There’s nothing more infuriating – or at times a little gratifying – when Facebook statuses reveal how oh-so-bogus people’s real life excuses were. Oh, you are tied up with family and can’t pick me up at the airport? Weird, because your friend just checked you in at the bar and tagged you in a photo — Bud Light in hand — with the caption: “Happy hour with the crew!”
Hey there annoying co-worker who just told me that you’re swamped with spreadsheets today and there’s no way you could help me stuff this mailing …. It’s strange that your status was updated 10 minutes ago with a photo of your Bertuccis lunch, complete with Instagram filters. Must be a tough day for you.
We tag, we check in and we upload to put a persona out there — sometimes it’s the real us, sometimes it’s a totally bogus version, but that’s the beauty of it, some may suspect but no one can really know what’s lurking behind those cryptic Lao Tzu quotes or Ben Harper song lyrics: “It wouldn’t have worked out anyway, so now it’s just another lonely day.” Did you suddenly become a philosopher? Doubtful, this seems like a not-so-sly cry for inquiries about your mental state. Or, you thought that copying what your Dove chocolate wrapper told you would make you sound intellectual.
“Ugh, my hair is out of control, and I never have the right outfit to wear. Must update wardrobe. Feeling bluck today.” Sounds like somebody’s fishing for a compliment … . In roll the comments: “You always look amazing!”. “What? I love your hair!”. “You have the best clothes — you looked so hot in those pink cords yesterday!”. Well-executed use of Facebook as self-esteem booster.
Let’s face it, sometimes we all feel the need to brag about our little successes or daily frustrations — inflated or not — and will find any excuse to draw some attention. So what’s wrong with that? No one needs to know that you left that “epic” party at 8pm, no one needs to know that you didn’t actually go into the museum, but that you checked in just outside of it so we’ll all think you’re artsy fartsy.
We all need to feed our egos sometimes, and what’s better than a whole bunch of thumbs up to do that? But sometimes that veil between reality and virtual embellishment is far too thin. We can see right through it but play along anyway, because we’re all a little bogus at times, it’s way too easy to be in the contrived reality that is Facebook profiles, like buttons, status updates and newsfeeds.
Can’t wait to get to my phone to update my 5,000 closest friends about my night: “Just read a hilarious piece about social media faux pas to a packed coffee house of hundreds. The audience couldn’t get enough. Pulitzer Prize here I come!”