Pleased to Meet the Facebook Version of You

While the real you is petty and vaguely racist, the Facebook version of you endorses multicultural organizations and believes in life as a shared path.
By Dan Kennedy, from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
January/February 2013
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The wit in your status updates is delightful. The real-life version of you always seemed intent on cornering me into a night of drinking wine after work so I could listen to you go on rather humorlessly.
Photo By Andrew Walsh

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Hats off to your laissez–faire attitude about the beautiful dinner you guys cooked up at the beach this summer. I was cracking up at the joke you made in the caption (“Looks like we’re eating outside AGAIN. Oh, well…”) under the snapshot of the gorgeous lobsters. The potatoes looked amazing fading off into the blur of a shallow focal range that ends at the saturated greens and yellows of herbs, and cornbread, and lemon garnish on the left just below where the sunset creates the lens flare that bounces off your icy bottle of beer.

The wit in your status updates is delightful. The real-life version of you always seemed intent on cornering me into a night of drinking wine after work so I could listen to you go on rather humorlessly about money problems and the usual rash of petty resentments against family and colleagues. But the Facebook version of you is one languid little paragraph of blurted bon mots after another. Like last week when you typed:

Sitting at the car dealer trying to figure out why I need $15,000 worth of optional accessories. But I won’t drive anything less than the new Infiniti… guess I was royalty in a past life :) 

This Facebook status update was a zinger compared to the previous week when your real life status update consisted of drinking a gallon and a half of Rosé at Loco Gordo’s to the refrain of:

I have to find a cheaper gym, I can’t keep spending this much on my hair, Kevin is a dick, I have to find some ways of cutting back, I hate Jan, I’m screwed, I … am … screwed! Face it, we’re all doomed. 

Then you said you were too stressed out to eat your half of the cheese and shrimp stuffed roasted poblano appetizer we ordered. You just kept drinking wine. You said you don’t like Mexicans. Two or three times, I think. You kind of yelled it, actually. At the waiter. Well, and then at the table next to us. And then to nobody in particular; kind of to the ceiling of the restaurant. But I think it was the Rosé talking because the Facebook version of you likes three different multicultural organizations that endorse fair trade and celebrate Hispanic arts and cuisine.

Judging from your wall photos, it looks like you never quite know what’s going to cross your path on any given day: longing for the five lazy days of summer you spent in Wyoming; a gorgeous sunset that seems to have appeared from an amber-greenish-orange era past; a fancy meal in a restaurant that you’re, for some reason, taking immense pride in; impromptu shopping trips that overshadow the layoffs and cutbacks where we work; you name it…

And I am crazy about the fact that the Facebook version of you is spiritual bordering on religious and philosophical. The real life version of you is, to be blunt, pretty quick to judge people for believing in anything more than reasonably priced alcohol, entry level luxury cars, restlessness, and chronic dissatisfaction. But the Facebook version of you has spun an enchanted web of a bio that feels like a cross between Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech and the mission statement of an idealist’s filthy commune that I long to spend my remaining years on:

Life is a temporary celebration of something larger and eternal. It is a shared path, sometimes traveled at different times than our fellows, but never traveled alone. Wealth is not measured in money or possessions, but in love and experience, ideas both created and imagined. 

That bio gets me weirdly pumped up, even just recalling it here. I want it to be true, and it feels like it certainly is true, at least while I’m under your spell of artfully rendered snapshots of a life going lavishly according to plan, peppered with status updates from days that never fail to overwhelm you with their spontaneous gifts, no matter how simple or exciting. The Facebook version of you is the kind of person I have always wished I knew. And in a way, now I do. Here’s to not seeing you in real life soon!

Dan Kennedy is the author of the books Loser Goes First and Rock On, is the host of The Moth podcast, and is a regular contributor to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, from which this piece was reprinted (October 12, 2012). 

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