Every so often I wake up on Saturday morning with a hangover and a text from Nadine, nagging me to breakfast with her. Some mornings I can’t physically pour my own cereal without my chest exploding (like in Alien except growing inside of me is alcoholism and two kebabs instead of an alien baby) and so I say yes.
"Awfully awkward breakfast…we talked around my crushing loneliness and then I felt uncomfortable when she mentioned some weird sex problem..."
Also, Nadine is the kind of friend that you grudgingly love because you grew up together but sometimes you really don’t like so you go to breakfast with her but never to the pub. And I peel myself out of bed, still reeking of beer to meet Nadine at some pretentious café. Everyone else there is wearing white linen and looks fresh-faced. Their phones all still have backs, their lip-balms have lids and I can’t see any tomato sauce stains on anyone. It’s unnerving how grown-up they are.
I usually start to regret this decision after I pay $30 in coins for some organic froth and Nadine starts to talk about clean-eating and how bohemian I look these days. It’s always a nightmare. She never has anything raw to share and I keep running off to vomit. By no standard are these breakfasts ever fun. The conversation is stilted and dutiful, the compliments are back-handed and I leave with a sour feeling that has nothing to do with deep-throating infinity billion beers last night.
But without fail every time our food arrives. Nadine squeals “Wait! Let me Instagram it!” Then she artfully arranges everything so that the flowers on the table frame the food and captions it with something stretched like “Amazing catch ups with my lovely friend! I love my life sometimes lol :p #laughter #joy #bestfriends #food #cafe #cleaneating #foodporn #instagood #like4like #pleaselikemypicture #please”. Then I devour my breakfast wondering why Nadine would lie and on the INTERNET of all places.
I don’t like the brag culture on Instagram and how damaging it can be. It’s just not real. No one Instagrams depressing post-break-up texts, bad sex, nasty rashes, fights with your mother about $$$, period stains, deep feelings of inadequacy and shame. If Nadine was being honest about her Saturday morning she should have taken a photo of me as I puked in the gutter and captioned it “Awfully awkward breakfast…we talked around my crushing loneliness and then I felt uncomfortable when she mentioned some weird sex problem. When we left she vomited in the gutter #depression #promiscuity #bingedrinking”. That’s good IGing! If Nadine was really honest with herself though, she would admit everything she puts on the IG is an attempt to show her ex how well she’s doing, how many friends/suitors/outfits she has, how skinny she’s become.
The terribly sad thing is that I know Nadine and so I know that behind every picture is another sad breakfast with a reluctant friend that’s been glamorised with a filter and some dishonest tags. But other people don’t know and might wonder why it seems everyone else is living in beautiful, pastel dreamscapes while they languish in the drab real-world outside the frame. Instagram should come with a disclaimer. WARNING: objects on-screen will seem more fabulous than they appear - please don’t compare your lives with these fragmented shards of artifice!
We filter our photos and we filter our lives and it becomes so easy for others to understand our deepest insecurities. We IG certain things because we want to be perceived in a certain way, it’s the most comprehensive database of human delusion ever conceived. A database born of deep insecurity and the idea that everyone, everywhere, is constantly brunching, shopping, reclining in stunning outfits on white couches and looking fine. Whatever truth is there is filtered over, cropped out, and selectively manipulated. And so it becomes a reflection of the subjects mind rather than the world at large which is unfortunate because the ugly world can be beautiful.
Doesn’t honesty bring people together and make everyone feel less alone and weird? I know that if I uploaded an unfiltered photo of myself, date-less and alone on a Saturday night, eating a burger, watching a romcom, stalking my ex on Facebook and feeling really miserable, it wouldn’t get many likes. But I guarantee it would resonate with everyone who feels sad and is doing the exact same thing. I don’t want to see people’s airbrushed nonsense I want to see shocking, embarrassing, brave, hilarious, relatable, disgusting realness and I want to see it with #nofilter.