I like girls who overshare on the internet.
I like girls who vague-book about their feelings, reach out for support, and tell stories of trauma. I like it when people crowdsource for advice on their mental health issues. I like it when my Facebook friends talk openly about their process of recovery from depression or eating disorders.
You know that person on your timeline who posts a novel every day about their feelings? I live for that person.
I know I’m not supposed to feel this way. I’m supposed to think these people are “attention seeking” or “dramatic.” I’m supposed to think, “doesn’t she have any real friends she could talk to?”
Here’s the thing: vulnerability is a quality that I value in real life. Why wouldn’t I value it on social media? Whether I like it or not, I spend a good portion of my time on the internet. It’s very possible that Facebook is collecting all my personal details to sell to a Chinese company who sells puppy organs to white supremacists through child labor, but I still depend on social media for professional reasons.
One of the main criticisms I hear from people who opt to delete their social media accounts is that it’s “fake” (I’m picturing a Holden Caulfield-loving disenfranchised white dude using the word “phony.”)
At the same time, these people are demonizing women and queer folks for being emotionally honest online.
We’re supposed to eschew social media in favor of more “genuine” interactions while disregarding the number of folks from marginalized groups who are already being their authentic, sad, weird selves on the internet every day.
(Sidenote: my assumption that it’s mostly queer folks and women who share their feelings on Facebook come from mostly anecdotal evidence. If you know any straight cis dudes who post public about their body insecurity and anxiety, maybe give me their numbers?)
Before social media became so ubiquitous that your Grandma now understands Snapchat filters, people were using the internet as a way to make genuine connections with strangers. Does anyone remember the glory days of Livejournal?
When I was in middle and high school, my friends and I used Livejournal (and the occasionally Myspace bulletin) as an outlet for our teen angst. We didn’t necessarily have the understanding yet that disillusionment and depression were normal emotions that everyone felt, but we still needed a way of expressing ourselves. We’d write public journal entries about crushes, friend drama, boredom in our hometowns, and anything else we needed to talk about.
Now that the internet isn’t just for nerds or teenaged girls, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good space for honest displays of struggle and capital-F Feelings. Just because more people have joined doesn’t mean we should stop making it a place where we can be vulnerable with each other.
You might be thinking, “but shouldn’t we strive for better real-life relationships instead of just using the internet for shallow interaction?”
Yes and no.
Sharing your vulnerability and on the internet and sharing it in person are not mutually exclusive activities. Having an internet presence doesn’t mean you don’t also have friends in real life. In fact, it can mean you’re being more honest in the way you present yourself both in real life and online.
Social media gives everyone the chance to construct themselves however they choose. We can curate our interests, our shared opinions, our performative allyship. We can choose how people see us with the photos we display. It’s not “attention-seeking” or “dramatic” to curate your internet presence in a way that is honest to how you are actually feeling on a day to day basis.
In a world where women are routinely harassed just for existing on the internet, oversharing is an act of courage.