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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor 10.05.2021

On appearances, making Instagram casual again, and being the main character

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Photo: Isabel Liang

I get really hung up on appearances. 

As embarrassing as it is to admit, swiping through Instagram carousels of date night photos while spending my third consecutive Thursday night alone with The D’Amelio Show still gives me that special kind of hurt. You know—the kind that sends your brain into a tailspin as it figures out why you lack the intangible something that guarantees weeknight plans and a medium–sized girl gang. It doesn’t matter that I like my solo Thursdays or that big groups of people make me anxious. What matters is that they’re creating a memory I lack, even if I don’t want that particular memory in the first place.  

Social media is a game of whack–a–mole appearances. As soon as you accept someone else’s supposedly charming life as aspirational, another curated–to–be–casual post undoes all that work. We know this concept (as does Facebook) a little too well. And yet, it’s not easy to stop feeling that all–encompassing envy.

We can predict the advice Boomers dole out on the topic. It follows this route formula: Remember that nobody is having as good of a time as they look, that everything is photoshopped, and that real life doesn’t happen behind a screen. All of that is true—to an extent. Nobody is having as good of a time as they appear to be, but what if they’re having a better time than you? Reality, after all, hovers exactly in between expectation and the lies we tell ourselves in order to function on a daily basis.

Although pessimistic, I don’t think we can free ourselves from the grip of cyclical Instagram jealousy. But I think we can reconfigure it. Namely, we can remember that the doldrums of our lives are exciting—and unattainable, almost—to someone else. The girl who requires a party for a good time secretly wishes she could be satisfied by a Saturday spent on a long walk or with a good book. And the boy who hops from one Instagram–official relationship to another probably wishes he could be single in the way you are, unperturbed and self–fulfilled. 

The point: as silly as “Main Character Syndrome" is, it gets the job done. When we stop replaying the climax of someone else’s movie, we realize how great our own is.

The week’s issue exists in the liminal space between appearance and reality, unpacking what life looks like just beneath a glossy exterior. We have notes on Megan Fox’s hot–girl friendship with Kourtney Kardashian and the well–meaning vanity of queer representation on Dancing with the Stars. And our feature, an exploration of LGBTQ student life at a university lauded for inclusivity, revels in a deeper truth: praise can stifle growth.


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