Chapter 3, Erin

Of course, I worried a little initially about the horror stories I had heard. The trolls, the glamorous accounts of false lives to make me feel awful about my own, the mass of uneducated opinions, the dangerously fast addiction and everything else in between, but I never thought much about it all after a while. Besides being sixteen in 2019 meant that I had a firm grasp of what lay before me and felt strong enough to cope with life on social media.

At the beginning I tried to remain strong anyway. It was more to prove a point to my mum but a fraction of it was fear of the inevitable. I could feel instantly the addiction looming. After two days of having access to the virtual social world, my phone was the first thing I went to pick up in the morning and the last thing that I put down at night. I spent hours scrolling and still do, but I don’t know why because after doing so I have never gained anything more or lost anything – my life remains exactly as it was.

On days when I feel bad about my own image, Instagram strengthens this sad emotion when I witness the accounts not of celebrities but of my own friends looking like celebrities. Their accounts fill my newsfeed with perfection and no flaws. The perfect brunch, the most exotic holiday venues, the prettiest new haircuts that look better than I looked that time when I had my hair and all my makeup done by a professional for a family wedding back in Ireland.

At the weekend I see friends and acquaintances out having fun. I always think to myself how they are doing the things that I should be doing when I am visiting Mummy or at work. Friends who have gone to places without even asking me so of course I feel totally left out and forgotten. Acquaintances who I don’t even care about doing things that make my Saturday night look so boring and suddenly I am deeply involved with care for the comparison.

On a more distant level, I see opinions all the time that I completely disagree with or that make me so angry that I can feel my face going red. I see people being horrible openly in their statuses or indirect Tweets and I laugh a little inside in agreement, but never would I say it to their face. I don’t wish to be involved with that kind of negative behaviour, but it is too easy to get sucked in.

When it all began though, I didn’t and still don’t feel I got too involved. I always stayed back and never posted much on my own accounts. The last picture I posted on Instagram which I also posted onto my Facebook account was wishing Jack a Happy Birthday in May. I made a collage of photos of the two of us from when we were very little up until our holiday in Ireland last year.

I am finding it very hard to see how my involvement affected anything. I guess you never know what is happening behind somebody’s eyes. Their thoughts and feelings are totally invisible which is the danger when they don’t discuss anything going on inside their head. I have been over all our accounts since finding out, even hers which is hurtful to do, and nothing seems too awful, but it must have seemed awful to her.

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