What we post in these moments of proclamation on a site like Facebook is a byproduct, a projection. Instead, life happens between status updates.
Then I opened Instagram, ran a filter over it, and posted it — to send it off into the world to be liked and viewed for its moment of glory, and to shortly after join the stream of other Instagrams disappearing into our Internet wasteland.
I think of the expiration dates we stamp on produce at the supermarket. How when we place items on shelves, we instantly date their freshness. I think about tweets in the same way: once unleashed for all to see, how long can they sit before they’re irrelevant? Before they’re kicked out of the conversation of now?
Read Later. I’m unsure what this means now. It’s become less of an action, and now some kind of blessed, magical place. An ideal state far in the horizon, to where I put stories and ideas and information for me to consume and synthesize to make myself a better, more informed person.
So I’ve thought about what digital spaces I’ll update with this name change, and which ones I may leave alone, and why I choose to make this distinction. I updated my name on Facebook—minus the reaction I had after updating my Twitter account—which makes me wonder about the identities maintained on each of these networks, the distinct spheres of my Internet, and the different levels of public.
I show a similar disinterest in my photography. Process and context are increasingly less significant. I’m preoccupied instead with creating the perfect shot for any given moment—worthy of an avatar, of a Facebook cover photo—and discarding the rest. A single unit is easier and faster to create—and consume.
Sometimes I envision my Twitter feed as rushing water: my presence is a dam, and each tweet is debris making its way downstream. It’s now a challenge to let information simply flow—to let tweets swim by without me seeing or interacting with them.
Sure, I was collecting things in an online space. But it still felt like clutter, fit for shoe boxes under my bed. And with Pinterest, my aspirations no longer floated in my head. They were right there: discoverable, pinnable, and recyclable by others. Aren’t my dreams supposed to be elusive? Unable to be bookmarked?
But on Twitter, it’s different: favoriting is less about someone else and more about me. The process is about plucking the juicy bits from others’ minds and imaginations and tossing them into a cauldron—a volatile place that mirrors my headspace at any given moment.
Alone, I sobbed. Yet I sobbed with Facebook open—his life revealed and exposed in bits on my screen, his friends spilling tears on his profile. I sobbed at home, by myself, but also with everyone else.
Imagine that you die with computer passwords in your head, leaving coworkers without access to critical files. Imagine your loved ones cannot find your bank accounts, or that you die with a secret that you longed to reveal during your lifetime. This copy is pulled from the home page of […]
One afternoon in our high school library, I noticed my friend studying a glossy, colorful postcard of sorts, folded into a few sections. She opened it horizontally to reveal a triptych of thick paper. A jumble of text was plastered all over, on the front and back. She handed it […]
I wrote an outline of my parallel universes at the start of this year. The beginning: 1. My mother and father, both born in the Philippines, move to the United States and meet one another, or 2. My mother (or father) moves to the United States, but my father (or mother) […]
The first time I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, years ago, I didn’t like it. The film, about two people who go through a procedure to erase each other from their memories, was made well, and I appreciated the vision of Michel Gondry. I also loved Jim Carrey’s more […]
Facebook makes us jealous. Competitive. Depressed. Facebook stirs up that fear of missing out. Facebook’s meaningless, frictionless sharing—think automatic Spotify updates—makes us care less. Facebook is destroying our friendships. Our connections. What it means to truly interact and be social. And so on. You’ve heard this all before. There are […]
A few weeks ago, as I was enjoying a routine Saturday morning of Internetting and caffeinating, a thought came to me: my real self is often jealous of my virtual self. Which I thought was silly, but perfectly understandable. I have an online persona—on this blog, on my Facebook profile, and […]
Yesterday, someone on Twitter posed a question: What makes you unfollow people? So, I compiled the top 10 types of tweets and peeps that make me click “Unfollow.” And I follow less than 100 handles, so believe me, I’m fickle with the clicking. The meaningless Follow Friday tweet. Occasionally, I send out […]
When I was four years old, my best friend Malia lived two blocks away; I rode my bike to her house, and we sped off to explore our neighborhood. In high school, all of my friends lived within a fifteen-mile radius; we coordinated hangouts over the phone, we sent beeper […]
In the spring, after my winter trip to Europe, I wrote about the evolution of friendship in a virtual world, and how I had an increasing number of online relationships, most of which were born on and have sustained through Twitter. I live far away from these people, who are […]
Above: @AJEnglish tweets mixed with top, promoted, and other tweets from my stream. Please refrain from laughing at my rudimentary Photoshop skills. Yesterday, I had multiple CoTweet and HootSuite dashboards open on numerous browsers, scanning the streams of 40+ Twitter accounts at once. I was the operator of the Nebuchadnezzar, sifting through the […]
As our Vueling jet descended, I saw clusters of orange rooftops, hilly neighborhoods, and a sparkling blue sea. After we landed, I turned my phone on and posted the obligatory location-based update on Facebook. Just landed in Lisbon! I wasn’t even off the plane when my BlackBerry light started blinking. […]
Irritated, I sighed and glanced at my mother. I had shared my latest post on social media, Egypt, and (my) pseudo-activism on Facebook. And no one had commented. I sifted through my Facebook feed. Ah, yes! Somebody just checked in at the dry cleaners. A handful of “likes” earned, naturally. And oh, […]
Last weekend in London, on a drizzling Saturday, I made my way to The Fellow, a gastropub near King’s Cross/St. Pancras station. I stepped into its cozy interior and immediately caught the glance of Mike Sowden, the blogger behind Fevered Mutterings who I’ve known primarily as @mikeachim on Twitter. He […]
I’m an outsider looking in on all that’s happening in Egypt. Since January 25, I’ve been overwhelmed, amazed, and inspired by the Egyptian people protesting on the streets of Cairo and throughout the nation, following #jan25 and #egypt tweets on Twitter, watching the live stream and coverage on Al Jazeera English, […]
At my job on a college campus, I recently researched social media policies at other universities, which led me to social media monitoring tools and a subsequent search of my name on Social Mention. I’m used to seeing my blog posts, photos, videos, and other content in search results and […]