October 3, 2023

After four years of practice, I found myself lurking: In addition to sharing snaps with friends on my private Instagram page, I was consuming strangers’ social media content without ever posting or commenting on myself. You’d think someone who relied on these conversations and derived joy from them would be contributing to them—would report that she, too, made chocolate lava cakes out of tin cans, or that a hyperbaric chamber could work wonders post-surgery. but not. Even though I love other people connecting through the internet, I’m still a staunch lurker. I would click a heart icon and contribute a like, but I find the public nature of social media engagement to be too performative for me. In an online world where anyone can get on stage, I’m more than happy to sit in the audience and applaud.

I started dormant a year before Covid. I worked two jobs in the office (an editor at a design firm and a managing editor at a magazine), wrote freelance stories on the side, and commuted between my apartment in San Francisco and my then-boyfriend’s apartment. Auckland house. I’m always juggling between different meetings and modes of transportation, and I never have enough time to do anything — including exercising or preparing meals. So it felt like the wall of my pants was closing. So, I opened the WeightWatchers application.

In addition to the tools for tracking diet and exercise, there’s something I hadn’t thought of: a sort of in-app Instagram, only available to members. By then, the shine of social media had faded for me. I’m done with the feeling of comparison, the echo chamber of trouble.but connect, As the platform calls it, it’s something else.

Unlike my other feeds, it’s not a group of people I know because they belong to my geographic area, field of work, or socioeconomic class. These people are united by common problems. Coastal elites, Midwest farmers, Floridians, doctors, former college athletes. People who like Trump. People who hate him. Those who really want to remind you that we should only be talking about weight loss. It’s a community full of random people I’d probably never meet in real life with stories about trying to be the best they can — and cheerleaders in the comments who are there for them.

Connect turns out to be a gateway drug.I would find myself digging into the following comments New Yorker, an Instagram account documenting the lives of city dwellers, and PostSecret, which encourages people to send anonymous postcards detailing close relationships in their lives.I followed the long comments at the end of recipes online and absorbed the inside jokes Zillow is crazy, Share the most wonderful houses on the real estate platform.not to mention the long back and forth “Am I an asshole?” Post on Reddit.

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