OK, PLS, THX offers regular performance improvement options and bug fixes to maximally optimize your overall user experience for social. It’s an advice column.
This week’s question: I text my friends all day long, which is nice and keeps us bonded. But sometimes it feels like I outsource too many daily decisions to my friends, which not only imposes on them but spreads my sense of self thin. We are so embedded in each other’s lives that it’s hard to know when to keep a thought to myself, and for what reason. Where, and how, does one draw the line between the self and beyond?
Mira’s answer: This is perhaps the first time in my life I’ve ever questioned whether or not I am outsourcing too many decisions to my friends. I am in four separate group texts right now and they’re all just slightly different configurations of the same six-or-so friends. I outsource every choice I make to one or all of those group texts. “Should I eat right now?” is a pretty common one for me. Another question I often ask is “Can I start drinking alcohol yet?” I swear to god I’m on the verge of asking for advice from my friends about whether or not I should go to the bathroom.
My friends do the same thing with me, maybe not to such an extreme degree. We are all hopelessly terrified of the Beyond and so addicted to our phones that we look to them for answers to almost everything. I view this habit as simply the first part of us becoming full-on cyborgs, which I am super excited for. The moment we can safely embed our cellphones into our skin for easy access, count me the fuck in. Can you imagine? We would never lose our phones, never break them, never have to worry about missing an important text.
Once that happens, the internet very literally becomes the Self and I never have to worry about the Beyond again. As someone who feels like the world is constantly out to get me and the internet is my only safe space, that sounds like a beautiful paradise.
Judging by the way my response to this question has digressed, I guess I am mostly interested in drawing (or rather, not drawing) a distinction between the Self and the internet and pretending the Beyond doesn’t exist.
People often ask me if what I do online is “real” and I am never sure how to respond. Why is everyone so obsessed with whether or not an online presence is “accurate” to reality? That question assumes that the internet is not also part of reality, which seems not only incorrect but completely insane to me. Of course all online presences are “true” and “real,” in that they are the accurate representation of how a person would like other people to see them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every aspect of a person is represented in their Twitter account, because that is impossible.
So in that sense, the distinction between the Self and Beyond is just that: The Self is constant, unending, inescapable, and mostly boring. The Beyond is anything you want it to be, which can be more terrifying than it is freeing. The Beyond is how you choose to present yourself to people, and the Self is how you present yourself to yourself.
As a person who hates myself more often than I love myself, the Self is a hell of my own making. In the Beyond I have found the internet, which I have contained into a portable device I carry in my pocket. On the internet, I create a manicured version of the Self to present to the Beyond, because I want to impress the Beyond. I want the Beyond to think I am hilarious and insightful and fuckable. But mostly, I want the Beyond to completely consume the Self until the only part of me left is the part of me I have preserved on my iPhone.