You don’t know who you are. You used to know. But not anymore. There was a stage when you could count all the people you knew respected you and those that didn’t. You could say with relative ease how many things and instances you should regret and ought to be ashamed of. But not anymore. Now you’re unsure. You don’t know what people think. What they really think. You search for validation in the online world. It works briefly, like a drug, and you are sedated, but then the drug wears off and you’re worse than before. There is an inkling that the world has formed an opinion. A false one. It’s a constant feeling of walking into a room that goes suddenly quiet as if you have been the topic of conversation. It’s not that people go quiet publicly – it’s that their minds suddenly switch to a certain mode. Something they know, or have seen, or think, or has formed their idea of who you are. It happened with work. You were going for the interview. Your CV was sent in. All relevant details supplied. Past experience. Age. Suitability for the role. Cover letter. Education. Enough to work on, to consider, and then allow the candidate to make an impression. But then someone said: ‘Let’s google him.’ And the task fell to the girl it always falls to. The one that can type fast, find the sites, declutter the search to the juicy bits. They found you on Facebook and looked at all your pictures. The holiday. The friends. The relationships. They got an idea of the type of person you are. Then it was on to Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Linkedin. They went into your friends pages. Your family’s pages. The friends of your friends. And the family of your family. They looked at everything. Would they marry you. Would they sleep with you. Would they work with you. Could they like you. Those opinions in that status update. Maybe it was sarcasm. Maybe it was racist. You shared that article on US politics. Seemed to support the candidate they don’t like. Is he critical of #metoo? Let’s not hire him. Not the right fit.
And then there was the girl you met. It seemed to go well but then went cold. Maybe it was her friend. The one always on the phone – what did she find? And some days you say hello to people and they’re not really responsive. Or they ask you things they couldn’t know unless they were looking at your online profiles. You talk to strangers like friends, and friends like strangers. Everything is a surreal bubble of virtual possibility. When you dropped the petrol hose and the fuel went everywhere, you saw it on Youtube in your mind. When a passerby said something funny you saved it later for sharing. When you met an old friend you took a selfie to tag it in a while because there was nothing else to do. Nothing to say. Nothing to feel. There is no substance. No reality. No emotion. There is no human connection. You don’t know who you are, everybody else does, but you don’t. Everything is chaos.