Do you like me?

on the eternal embarrassment of desperately wanting people to think I'm cool

Sure, self-esteem that comes from within is probably ‘healthy’ and ‘better’ than drawing all validation from external sources.

But wouldn’t you rather be cool and popular?

Be honest. Think carefully.

Imagine if every tweet you wrote was instantly liked thousands of times. If a side hustle would be guaranteed at least minor success because people would buy your wonky pottery because they want to support creators. Picture someone earnestly trying to be your friend because they think you’re smart and funny, wanting to ingratiate themselves to you because if YOU engage with THEM, they will be cool by association.

I’d take that over just being content with myself any day.

I’ve long wanted to be liked, which you can probably pin back to the usual stuff of not knowing how to style my hair as a child and having the wrong sort of shoes, but this has only intensified in the past year.

I think that’s due to the limited IRL interaction we’re all having, and the increased important of online social currency in its place.

Without the those mini bites of validation in the form of a compliment on an outfit, a smile from a stranger, a thank you, office chitchat, I’m ravenous for any sort of confirmation online that people don’t think I’m annoying, unfunny, and generally hate-able.

And so I hunger for every like, every retweet, every subscription to this newsletter, fulfilling every worn-out cliche of millennial social media dependency. Resentment builds like pus in a wound and begs to be poked and prodded. I let thoughts of ‘I always share their stuff, I’m always there for them’ simmer into the inevitable ‘why don’t they do that for me? Do they hate me? Or am I just shit?’ boil.

The trouble with just going offline and relying on self-worth is that I don’t really like myself, either.

Without the internet, I’m left to deal with the thought that I actually am extremely annoying1. I annoy myself all the time. If I met me, I wouldn’t like me.

Plus, I’m horrible to myself. Yes, this could probably be worked on. But you know what’s cheaper, less intensive, and more immediately effective than months of therapy? Finally managing to write a tweet that bangs.

I can’t trust my own opinion of myself because I have a mentally ill brain that’s bound to be overly criticial and never satisfied. Other people’s opinions, therefore, are the ones I’ll rely on.

It feels more realistic to pursue affection online than to work on IRL happiness and peace, or to break down the desire to have as many people as possible think I’m cool. If that desire disappeared, what would take its place in that valuable mental real estate? I’m sure I’d find a way to fill it new forms of self-loathing that aren’t so easily fixed by views on an article.

The problem with not chasing some undetermined amount of approval is that you need to chase something else. And online admiration isn’t impossible! It’s conceivable that I could actually make strangers like me online! That’s a far more achievable goal than other ways to feel popular, like having unlimited funds to buy people’s pints and thus their love, or becoming a footballer for the sole purpose of then campaigning to tackle child hunger and then being the most-liked person in the country!

If you’re reading this and thinking wow, this all sounds quite concerning, maybe I shouldn’t support this damaging way of thinking by engaging, you are wrong. That’s not the point of this. The point is to like my tweets and tell me you think I’m brilliant. I won’t believe you, but I still need it. Do the right thing. Like me.

reading recs:

Leave a comment

1

Yes, my dad did once call me annoying when I was a small child. I’m sure that this has had no longterm impact.