I’m not much of a pleasure reader, but last week my book of choice was a 220-page PDF entitled “Mwaahhahaha,” a Facebook thread among four seniors at my alma mater, Choate Rosemary Hall. The thread went viral over a month ago and has since made Connecticut headlines as a real life “burn book,” the diary of bullying created in the hit movie “Mean Girls.”
The thread made for an entertaining read, but after several minutes, a nagging unease led me to prowl through my own Facebook messages. I didn’t have to read too many before I was reminded that my own cyber voice doesn’t sound all that different from those in “Mwaahhahaha.”
As it turned out, I had come up with some pretty catchy message subject lines over the years as well. “Wow Ima Be Flippin over this WITH steam leaving my ears in 2 Seconds” was one of my more creative lines. But if you want someone to respond in under five minutes, I recommend “Fergalicous definicious make demmm boyzzz go LOCO.” Then maybe include a video of yourself imitating Mike Myers as Austin Powers? I laughed out loud when I saw another subject line: “[̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] I got money in the thangggggggg.” I’m pretty sure that I sent after I got my first paycheck.
Then I stumbled upon “These grenades are going to get some …” I wrote the message after a summer party at which body shots had been the drinking method of choice. I clicked it open and was immediately taken aback by how cruelly I described the day. I’ll spare you the gory word-for-word message, but trust me when I say I brutally insulted many of my friends and people I didn’t even know who were at the party — their bodies, their clothes, their behavior.
But as I continued to read my message, I was surprised to see another side of myself emerge: “i will admit it. i am human. yep, i have enough insecurities, etc etc enough to write a jewel song right now. i just really haven’t felt myself at all.”
When I took a break from bashing people, my true feelings emerged. I felt self-conscious and guilty. This does not excuse what I wrote; I know I need to judge other people less. But I’m not the only person whom Facebook has documented at their very worst — I’m sure we’ve all written things that don’t really represent who we are. If we judge individuals by their online personas — in threads and IMs — we only glean a very incomplete picture of who they really are. And perhaps more importantly, remember that we always have room to cut each other a little slack in how and why we judge our friends online.
So tonight I will start my newest thread on Facebook. Subject line? “Bootylicious, jEwEL-icious.” Message? Everyone, you’re looking good. Just listen to Jewel — after all, she really does say it best:
“In a world of post modern fad,
It’s not hard to understand.
Just follow this simple plan,
Follow your heart,
It will lead you in the right direction.
Ladidada, Ladidada, Ladidada, da da.”
Sing it, girl.
Maddie Broder is a sophomore in Morse College.