#SeekingFollowers: A Social Experiment

On Thursday, bored and avoiding work on three (three!) final projects, I decided to try an experiment: I wanted to see how many followers on Instagram I could get.

Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform, and that’s probably because I’m a pretentious, ironic millennial (read: hipster and maybe tack on wannabe). I also won’t lie, I watch my ratio of followers to who I follow. Followers are the currency of social standing. (And this is what makes me a wannabe hipster; a bonafide fair trade coffee-drinking, thick-rimmed glass-wearing, scarf-in-the-summer millennial isn’t concerned about these capitalistic, mainstream woes. At least theoretically.)

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Unrequited, but Rational (I Swear)

By Cazey Williams Today in Starbucks I thought I saw you. Of course it couldn’t be you, because you’re on another continent, and I’m here pursuing the practical path of PhD student. But let’s not pretend I forgot about you.

The synopsis is short. I liked your best friend, but then I met you. (Your friend foretold we would get along, not that that matters.) You invited me to your hometown and entranced me. I should’ve kissed you, but I didn’t. I tried to hang out with you again, but you always said, “Rain chk plz”…unless your best friend was around.

You (the reader this time) would think this is an open-and-shut case; she didn’t like me, and maybe this is true, but I offer up the defense.

The Monday after I should have kissed you, I saw your best friend. She had no idea we had been together, though I knew you two had been texting.

You edited a literary magazine. I submitted this story. I called it “The Hardest Glass” – because your friend told me, in a Gchat, that you’re the hardest glass to break. I had to pull an Ian McEwan (Atonement, anyone?) and fabricate a “happier” ending where the boy and girl reunite, though not for good. Never for good. You’re not someone I see ever being somewhere, with someone, for good. And you probably take that as a compliment. You should.

Maybe you read my story, because you invited me to your party. I came, we chatted, but I never want anyone to know I have affection, so I left. I did that to you several times. I want to say we’re both cowards, but in hindsight, it’s one-sided.

I resent myself for remembering these trivial details. I am a rational person. I haven’t seen you in over a calendar year. Yet here I am taken aback to see your ghost in Starbucks. It’s not a frequent longing; I only comb your Facebook photos every six months, less often than I judge my high school peers I haven’t seen in over half a decade. But I resent myself (I backspaced over the word hate) because it is every six months. You should be forgotten by then, like every other lust/crush I’ve ever had.

And I hate myself because when I post things on social media, I wonder if you’ll see it, and what you’ll think, and if you’ll like it, though I know you won’t, even though I like your things methodically, only things that I can objectively justify for liking. I wonder if you’ll see this.

I worry I’m creepy. Okay, I know I am “creepy” from the removed standpoint of observer. But because I recognize this, am I less creepy? And why can’t I get over you? Why are you in all the songs on my Spotify? “Stubborn Love,” “Riptide,” “I Already Forgot Everything You Said.” And “Stay With Me.” And “Coeur D’Alene.”

And because I can’t get rid of you, I wonder (read: wish) do you have the same thoughts? And because I’m a rational person, I know you don’t. But because I over think things, because I’m a rational person, if I can so irrationally hold onto a crush (and no one here is mistaking this for love/romance/butterflies and strawberries), then you could, too. But you don’t. And neither should I.

Yet I continue to over think you. I rationalize you. I don’t like you; I like your ideal: The bonafide bohemian, the wanderlust millennial. You travel by moon’s phases and morning’s impulses, and I, I live by Google Calendars and emails. I want that, not you.

That makes me feel more rational.