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Maintaining the illusion

Matthew Reeves on the 'magic' of Facebook

Maintaining the illusion

I don't know if I've mentioned before that I'm incredibly cool - I don't follow any rules, or have a bedtime. But I find the hardest thing about maintaining my eternally groovy look, while staying focused on my career goal of becoming last of the famous international playboys, is the admin. I spend hours on the internet, imagineering a mood board of current cultural and fashion trends, embodied by the activities of my coursemates, friends and colleagues.

Back in the day, Facebook was your friend. Find someone cooler than you, load up an album and assess the damage. Did six months in Australia, fine. Surfed on Bondi, a bit clichĂ©d, but basically fine. Plays in a band. Well, that's just bad manners. Then go through your collection of photographs and opinions to construct a “filtered three times for smoothness” version of yourself. Back then I would have been happy to be Matthew Reeves' friend. But I have no idea what the rules are any more.

Now when I log in with the innocent aim of assessing which of my secondary school competitors I earn more than, I'm swept away by a relentlessly swift, unswimmable tide of events. We all hate it when our friends become successful, and now I find that they're regularly doing stuff as well. No longer can my life be updated once a year with a few well-timed shots of me smiling while other people are “enjoying themselves” in some place where people apparently feel the emotion of fun. What are we meant to do?

I'm not going to be one of those “into cars” people who gets a hatchback and takes it on a spin around the market town they grew up in. Nor am I going to form any part of those non-speaking couples, electively mute and Instagramming their way through a voucher-fuelled Strada extravaganza. I think Instagram is a magical creation - if you accept that Paul Daniels is magic and not a weird little aged man. And bearing witness to that sort of activity makes me feel more sad than any advert for a starving this or a stray that ever has. If someone were to walk past me with a clipboard under those circumstances I'd readily liberate it from their grasp and start a campaign for any amount a month from anyone to provide some funds to enable the said couple to divorce.

Or maybe they're true forward thinkers in realising that life is a wheel of boredom which involves repeatedly providing an endless stream of proof that it wasn't. What better solution, then, than Instagram, a free, fast and effective way of altering the presentation of your reality, making it more beige and faded. Maybe it's actually fun to make an inanimate object look like it was from twenty years ago. So is this surge of reality-enhancing apps like Instagram going to be the second dotcom bubble? We've got all the useful academic, medical and financial information we need and are as interconnected as we could ever be. Now we've moved on to the age of connecting the less useful bits. Maybe it's just another facade of Facebook-profile proportions, but perhaps there's something beautiful about our pointless Instagrammed illusions.   

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