tfw is a mini personal essay series I’m try to do on Tuesdays to recount second-person experiences of feelings and experiences we all have. Or maybe I’m the only one who has them?
You post something. Maybe it’s to Twitter. Maybe it’s to Facebook. Maybe it’s to Instagram. You post it and you let it live its little life online. You don’t bother it for a few minutes or maybe you have the restraint to wait hours, days, or weeks before checking in on it again. People Like it. People comment. People will do what they want with your post because that is the point: you put something out there and people touch it in different ways, poking or petting or pushing it however they please.
But there is one type of person looking at your post that is different: that Someone. The Someone are a unique set of people who you no longer talk to. You pass each other silently online and you may even stalk this person—but they have no idea. You two are strangers, your shared history strictly history. You two had a time together and that is it. It’s over now, though.
That person could be an old friend. That person could be an estranged relative. That person could be an ex-lover, which is probably the type of person you are most likely to squint at in confusion as you drag the screen closer to your face to examine who Liked what. “Someone Liked that?” you ask. It was a photo of your dog. You post photos of your dog every other day. This one is no different. It is neither better nor worse than anything else you have posted. It is kind of a status update for your dog. Why did Someone enjoy that?
They liked it. Someone Liked it. Someone did not pass the chance to let it go but they stopped and they acknowledged that what you did was worth their time. Where were they when they did it? Were they thinking of you? Clearly they are not trying to get you back and they have no reason to try to engage but, yes, they did all of these things in your mind because they are now in your face, an avatar kindly smiling or squinting or waving for you to follow them, to Like back.
Or maybe Someone just doesn’t care about you. Maybe the engagement was strictly accidental, a casualty of a speed Liking run and a too quick scrolling habits. Maybe Someone has made it a point for years to disengage with you. Maybe Someone just thinks you are Someone and that you are now at such a distance that you can be watched without any repercussions. Maybe Someone has gotten their shit together.
Then it stops happening and this act by Someone is an anomaly, a little itch on your brain that sticks all week. It doesn’t go away. You and Someone are now back together in some way, tied by the online image of your dog.
Or it happens again and again and you realize that you and Someone are just two people who are now at safe enough of a distance that you can mutually watch each other without the stir of catastrophe. You are too fucking old for this bullshit. You and all the Someone you have are now good. Even the Someone who you went out with on one date, where you both proceeded to friend each other on Facebook while drunk, and who you now are still friends with despite you and Someone only having shared five hours together, one of which was spent doing messy things with your mouths: that Someone is still in your life, for some reason.
It’s always the same when a Someone Likes you. You may be at work on your computer or walking to your car or in the supermarket shopping—but that Someone has power, wherever you are, to transport you back in time, to when you first met or when you last saw Someone. You wonder why they did this and you continue picking up vegetables. “Am I Someone‘s Someone? Am I anyone’s Someone?” you think. You hope you aren’t. You hope you go unnoticed. You settle yourself into the cushion of thought that, no, you aren’t special enough to be a Someone. The attention you give that person isn’t that special: that Someone isn’t even getting any attention either. They are just caught up in a net of memories that you frequently forget about, in a make believe moment with Someone, before you and Someone became each other’s Someone.
Someone doesn’t matter. Their Like is just another dulled down interaction worn by the repetitiveness of online activity. Someone isn’t really a person anymore. They’re just any other someone.