Hiding in plain sight

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By Kabelo Mollo

One of my favourite things about being married is not having to go on dates, first or otherwise. The agony of having to prep your representative, because in truth that’s who goes on The first couple of dates especially if it’s someone you like. Having to remind your representative to be fun and interesting, to be polite and courteous and to have his best table manners.

He must look good, smell even better and have an understanding of culinary delights and the wine pairings that go with them. The representative must be a mash up of Calvin Klein model, sommelier, investment banker and teddy bear. Its silly but we’ve been led to believe that’s the perfect guy. The guy every woman will swoon over and every mother will want as a son-in-law.

It used to be that this representative only came out for important engagements like dates, but unfortunately the pressures of social media have made it such that this representative needs to come out daily. The façade is no longer for occasional consumption. It’s now always on like the Wi-Fi at your favourite local eatery. It’s a nightmarish existence I imagine because you have to forget who you really are. If it takes 21 days to form habit, then the performance becomes a habit surely? 

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Those who are nearest and dearest to you get lost too, because they know you as one person, but every day you’re presenting another. Even if your rep has elements of you, the way you heighten and project those almost become caricature. Your close circle starts to look at you funny, but that’s fine because there’s a community online that accepts you for all your wondrous splendour. The imposter syndrome that has gripped so many surely stems from This?

So we hide our true selves from the socials. As many have attested in the past “I am not my tweets” essentially absolving the self from any inappropriate or unpopular posts. We posit how ever we like on there and then have an easy out in claiming independence from that character. It’s all very complicated because as mentioned before that’s just your representative, but It’s also the character that has become the main character, the one that’s garnered the following and that’s popular and well loved. What to do then when like Icarus that character has flown too close to the Sun? Because that’s one of the vagaries of the social media game. At some point, you’re going to have to be more extreme than even the character likes, but it’s for likes. Also, you’re not your tweets… So then back to hiding the true self. Nobody on social media wants to know that you’re drowning in debt, or that you have erectile dysfunction or that you have a learning disability. Nobody wants to know that you’re lonely, scared and anxious. That’s all too real. Those are a secondary character’s problems. The main character carries a platinum bank card, performs at the drop of a hat and is an academic over achiever.

Every day I see something that makes me laugh on social media. It’s always related to what a relationship should be and what each player’s role is. The clever blacks call them “twitter standards”. Both sexes must be these over the top movie type characters who are performative lovers that are perfect. I often wonder whether the folks purveying these views are deliberately baiting, because there’s absolutely no ways those folks believe the mess they spew. The truth about loving relationships off of social media is that they’re filled with ups and downs. They’re awesome and mundane simultaneously. They are vexing and centering. They are many things at many different points. They are also a number of small gestures that remind the other person that you chose them once again. Popular refrains like “indoda must” and “a girl better” are social media rhetoric. Not for real life.

With all of that said, there also need not be this new trend we see emerging on social media where people overshare. The social media community doesn’t need to know that you soiled yourself in public. I really don’t think we need to hear about your dysentery nor any ablution experience. That’s just not necessary!

Social media, like life is what you make of it. The experience is almost always dictated by you. So, why not make it an awesome, real, educational one?