What Cringing at Old Social Media Posts Taught Me about Adulting

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What Cringing at Old Social Media Posts Taught Me about Adulting

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

I’m hardly ever on Facebook these days. I tell myself that I’m way too cool and way too busy for Facebook, and resist the blue icon on my phone. After all, our profiles on social media are an extension of our personality, our social resume! If you want to know more about a person, you’d check out their social media pages and you’d know whether they are liberal or right-wing, whether they root for Marvel or DC and whether or not they like cats! We no longer simply share a post, we reflect on whether the post aligns with our reputation, values, and our carefully crafted persona before we hit Share! Which makes even my aversion to appearing on one of these platforms a personality trait.

The other day though, up popped a ten-year-old Facebook Memory. I knew in the back of my head that I was about to go down the rabbit hole. But hey, it’s the pandemic. And when you have binge-watched on ‘The Bold Type’ the entire weekend, you yearn for some drama of your own. So I fell for the bait and went back ten years to when I was a single, ready-to-mingle girl about town!

Ranting about a bad day on social media is the last thing I would do. That honour is reserved for a few close friends.

I had just meant to look at that one memory of my mum and I standing against the backdrop of a meadow, but sigh, I ended up reading every conversation, comment, and post older than 10 years. Yikes.

Is that… scratch that… was that me?

From inane conversations with friends which should have been DM’ed, to Farmville gift requests, the cringe factor on my 10-year old Facebook wall is immense!

One particularly embarrassing post simply said – “I’m bored”.

How crass. Whatever happened to keeping a stiff upper lip? Granted, that one’s primary aim on social media is to garner followers, friends and get as many likes as possible, but this seems like a ridiculous way to get attention! There were more such posts where I rant on about a cold or a long day at work or even terrible traffic. I seem to have worn my heart very embarrassingly on a high-visibility sleeve, uh wall. With the wisdom that comes with the last of your wisdom teeth, I have now become as stoic as a Viking. Ranting about a bad day on social media is the last thing I would do. That honour is reserved for a few close friends. Is it age that makes us wary of sharing our everyday trials? Or is it a peer pressure driven need to put our best foot forward on Instagram? Suffice to say, everybody’s social media these days is a string of happiness or worldly wisdoms!

A hefty ten years later and with the collective experience of billions of selfie-taking millennials, we are probably doing better.

This phenomenon isn’t just limited to me. I asked a few friends about their own “walls of shame”, and this sort of whining on Facebook seems to have been a common thing. Perhaps it was the ‘in thing’ then? All I can say is I’m glad it wasn’t just me! Then there’s the SMS lingo that hurts my eyes.

‘its so bd I hv 2 go hyd undr a rock rt abt nw.’

Why? What did I do with the time I saved not typing those pesky vowels? Couldn’t have done much seeing as I did not make it to 30 under 30 anyway! As a 30 –something woman, I fervently wish I’d have done justice to my school Wren & Martin and written complete sentences! This parade of cringe doesn’t just end with language. There are of course also the photos, so many of them.

We were all at that awkward age, except our awkwardness seems to have lasted right into our mid-twenties. Maybe we hadn’t found our good sides. Maybe these days we have access to better fashion. The fashion influencers we follow tell us that it’s probably not a good idea to wear printed pants with a printed top. A hefty ten years later and with the collective experience of billions of selfie-taking millennials, we are probably doing better. Also, Instagram filters guys!

Social media’s very nature means it robs us of individuality.

Certain platforms have now become time capsules. Nothing looks cool when looked at through the patina of an uncool ten years you have spent ageing, worrying about other things in life. Leave it to roost for another fifty years and then those weird floral hair clips and 3/4th pants might start looking vintage!

It is a lesson in humility to realise that no matter how wise you think you are now, and how cool your Instagram profile is, give it another ten years and those “This or That” Instagram posts and “Jumping on the newest trend reels” are going to look like “cheugy” content. The point is as long as there’s social media, there are going to be ‘felt cute, might delete later’ moments. Except you might forget to delete and that embarrassing selfie is now deeply entombed in the annals of social media, ready to pop up when you least expect it!

Social media’s very nature means it robs us of individuality. It reduces us to caricatures of the celebrities we emulate, opinions we echo for the sake of it and activism we half-ass from the comfort of our chairs. It’s also a mirror to all the contradictions you believed in when you were younger, the vanity that you believed would sustain in some sort of tangible way. But that is where social media may also be an invaluable repository for things we are not, for things we outgrew and for things we definitely won’t do again.

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