So… I Get Depressed When I Stalk Myself on Social Media

Amanda Montell
PHOTO:

Urban Outfitters

I'm going to admit something that I wish wasn't true: I care about the way I look on social media. I care a lot. I act like I don't because, in my ideal world, I wouldn't, and I have such reverence—envy even—for people who never worry about how they appear online. The truth is, however, that I desperately want to look effortlessly cool and beautiful on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even freaking Google images, ultimately because I want to seem that way in real life. Sometimes, I almost think I pull it off.

But then—and this happens a few times a month—I inevitably find myself descending into a social media black hole, stalking old photos, not of other people, but of myself. Sometimes these scroll binges are inspired by a simple, random urge to find some old photo from my Instagram feed, but other times they start with the Facebook Memories feature. (You know how we get those notifications reminding us of what we were posting on such-and-such a day three years ago? Seems like a charming way to stroll down memory lane, until all the sudden, it's two hours later, and you find yourself obsessing over the dreadful orange hair color you had in 2013, wondering how anyone let you look like that).

Every time I enter one of these online excavations, it invariably results in me spiraling into self-hatred over how hideous I used to be. (Look how insane my eyebrows looked, I'll think, horrified, or, Why does my face look so bloated there? Is that what I really look like?) What follows is the anxiety that I am still a monster, that everyone sees it but me, and that I have no perception of how I truly appear to other people. I get that this worry is delusional and self-centered, but it's real, and for a few late nights out of every month, it consumes me.

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