I spend too many of my days watching the lives of others unfold online while allowing my real life to sit stagnant. WomanI hold my phone so close to my face that it slips through my hand and plummets onto my nose too many times than I want to remember. I just leave the nose I paid $7,000 for unprotected as I fight even the most basic of human needs, sleep, in order to stay online as long as I can. And when my eyes can stay open no longer, BAM, my phone hits me on the sculpted bridge of my man-made nose.

If sleep can’t stop me from this online obsession, surely anxiety and panic attacks can. Sadly, they can’t. I view all of my social media accounts on my phone. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are all kept in a little handheld box. Currently, Instagram is my number one vice. I’ll view Nicole Richie’s page and before you know it I’m on Reese Witherspoon’s page and then Drew Barrymore’s and then Cameron Diaz’s. And I do all of this so that I can follow their friendships with one another via the pictures they post, but that’s not the worst. I’ve gotten to the point where I follow reality TV personalities. Big Brother, Real World, Real Housewives and the unthinkable, Bad Girls Club are shows I’ve gotten sucked into watching and now I find myself “researching” the casts via their Instagram accounts.

For those unfamiliar with what Instagram is. Basically, it’s a place where anyone can go and participate in the most self-indulgent behavior in the history of (wo)mankind. A place where you can take a #selfie or a #groupie and then edit each within either separate Photoshop apps or the filters provided to you on Instagram. By the time you are done editing a picture of yourself standing in front of a mirror holding your smart phone, you have the face of a fetus. Wrinkles, laugh lines, blemishes and double chins are nonexistent. I use so many filters that I don’t even know what I look like anymore. I look into the mirror and ask, “Who’s this dark-circled, wrinkly-eyed bitch with zits on her nose and why is she giving me the stink eye?”Joleen Selfie

I feed into the lie. The lie that we are all better people when “touched up.” And despite a movement by some women who claim to be posting pics with #nomakeup who apparently #WokeUpLikeThis, their efforts are made in vain when we realize that 99 percent of these women are in fact wearing makeup and woke up hours before the picture was taken. Celebrities take these pics all the time in some lame attempt to have a feminist voice. I think; however, they’ve forgotten that foundation, concealer, mascara, lip gloss and nude lipstick are all forms of #makeup.

I get so caught up in the Instagram world that what is supposed to be a quick 10 minute “peek” at other people’s pictures becomes a 2 hour affair. Recently I’ve started getting anxiety and even a few panic attacks while immersed in this fake online world. I spend hours trying to figure out how all of these reality stars who tag each other in photos, know one another. Despite being a literate, somewhat intelligent person, it takes me far too long to come to the obvious conclusion that they know each other because they are a bunch of fame thirsty, chronic self-promoters whose looks and soul-selling is what got them onto television in the first place so why wouldn’t they all hang out in a transparent attempt to cross scripted reality cultures in hopes of gaining more followers and remaining what everyone with a Hollywood dream seems kylie-jenner-lips-phototo need to be, relevant. (Except for The Real Housewives of Atlanta, NeNe Leakes. I’m sure most will disagree, but I think I’m allowed a favorite whom I believe to be worthy of her stardom. Why? Because she makes me laugh. Even if she’s reading from a script, her comedic timing, bluntness, attitude and her explorations deep into the Atlanta vernacular make her my exception or “Hall Pass” if you will)

Once I’ve been on Instagram for longer than an hour, I can feel my anxiety rising, making it hard for me to breathe. Like someone is sitting on my chest. I start to sporadically flash back into my actual reality where I am cognizant of what I am doing and then the shame sets in, which triggers the anxiety, which then triggers a full-on panic attack. I’ve cried whilst in my Instagram journeys. Lately it seems that the longer I look at Kylie Jenner’s inflated lips, the longer I cry. If you don’t know who Kylie Jenner is, she’s, no never mind, you’re lucky. You’ve managed not to waste your precious time on this earth studying and then judging what appears to be, the most discernible lip augmentation in the history of collagen. And I’m not proud to admit this, but as I gaze upon her plumped-up lips I think, “Wow, she looks so much better.”

Despite my illogical and embarrassing online behavior, I sleep at night by reminding myself, “At least you’re not a lonely Internet troll.” An Internet troll is the worst “person” you can be online. Trolls hide behind fake social media accounts so that they can bully and instigate fights about subjectivity and politics where their main “facts” are based on racism, sexism and poor vocabulary. I may neglect my basic needs (sleep and mental health) in order to feed my insatiable appetite for stalking the lives of strangers, but at least I do so under my real name. At least I’m not an Internet gangster without an avatar image who lives in a cloud of delusional, misdirected self-hate.


PS my Instagram profile is http://instagram.com/palegurl