Pillow Talks with Strangers
The numbers on my digital iHome clock glowed a bright blue in the dark bedroom. It was two in the morning and the only other light visible illuminated from a thirteen-inch MacBook screen. Not a lot of people were usually up that late at night, especially on a Sunday. I clicked on the favorites tab of my browser and a blue screen emerged with white outlines in the center that spelled out Tumblr. I logged into my account and then continued scrolling through my dashboard, occasionally liking or reblogging a post that I found interesting.
These late night moments were typically when people would come online and vent about their feelings, and even share their secrets online. In an era where technology seemed to rule not only our social lives, but also our private lives, I found myself turning to media platforms to serve as an outlet to relieve stress. It was during these late night instances where I let myself open up and, figuratively, put my thoughts onto paper.
I began following people that had the same humor as me and shared similar interests. Some days when I’d log into Tumblr feeling upset or in need of a good laugh, I’d see a post from someone I was following and immediately connect with it.
One day I was feeling exceptionally overwhelmed and I opened up my dashboard to see a quote that said, “Let go, or be dragged.”
I slowly processed the words on my screen and the previously etched frown on my face shifted to a slight upward curve. It was comforting to realize that I was not alone and someone somewhere was dealing with a situation that could possibly be similar to what I was dealing with. I felt secure in that I now belonged to a community of anonymous bloggers.
I laid back on my bed and looked up at the ceiling wondering how many people related to that post and if the original creator knew what effect those few words had on me. With newfound inspiration and courage, I sat back up, wrapped myself in my down comforter, and started vigorously typing away on my laptop. My keys were clicking so loudly that I was afraid my mom would come into my room and demand for me to sleep, but I couldn’t stop — I was on a roll. I felt free to rant and, basically, complain about all the little things that bothered me. It was like the large elephant that had been sitting on my chest suppressing any attempts to voice my opinions had finally stepped aside and the floodgates burst open. By participating in blogging, I became socially connected to a community of strangers that had no clue who I was, yet seemed to know me better than some of my closest friends.
After logging out of my Tumblr, I decided to browse through my Instagram quickly before sleeping. My previously upturned frown fell swiftly back into a grimace as I saw pictures of what my peers had done in the past seventy-two hours. There were images of people surfing at the beach, hiking in Yosemite, sitting in box seats at the Warriors game, and even playing with baby tigers and lions at a zoo. I sighed in exasperation as I looked back at my past weekend sitting at home watching Netflix with a few friends. I kept asking myself why I wasn’t out adventuring like the rest of my classmates. My life seemed unproductive and boring in comparison to those of my classmates.
I whipped out my laptop due to the sudden onset of frustration and reopened my Tumblr. In a flurry of motion I quickly typed out a text post stating, this is to the best of my memory, “Don’t compare your happiness to the happiness of others.” I was annoyed by the fact that I was unsatisfied with my weekend because I was comparing it to the highlights of my peers’ month or possibly even year.
By the time I checked my account the next day, my post had reached over one thousand likes and reblogs, and the numbers continued to rise. Even though the irritation I had the night before had calmed, I was relatively content in that others seemed to agree with me. People were replying to my post saying things like “This!!!” and “Totally relevant”, or tagging their friends to share my post. The number of followers I gained with that post increased right before my eyes from double digits, to triple digits, to eventually over quadruple digits. My ask box, a feature where users can communicate directly, started flashing with red notifications to alert me that I had new messages. I read my letters and saw that in addition to connecting with my text post, people also liked the other content I reblogged from other users.
I found a public sphere where I had access to individuals who held the same opinions and thoughts as me. As I sat up against my headboard, I started to recognize some names that appeared on my dashboard. I felt my heart beat faster as the realization set that my classmates and peers had found my blog. To this day, I don’t know why that thought frightened me so much, but I deleted my Tumblr a few moments later. For some reason, my blog seemed too personal to share with people I actually knew. It was easier to share my feelings with complete strangers than with friends.
I sighed and stared at the home page hovering over the two large buttons “Sign Up” and “Log In.” I didn’t regret deleting my account, but I did enjoy the reassuring, although fleeting, feeling of belonging to a community with similar interests and viewpoints. I looked up from my laptop and looked around my dark, fourteen by fourteen foot room, and clicked down on my track pad. I looked to the numbers shining from my clock and I felt my lips turn up into a small smile as I began recreating my Tumblr.