Numbers

 1.     According to the news, numbers are going up: covid cases, degrees Fahrenheit, percentage of the population who mistrust the election results, greenhouse gas emissions, student debt, taxes. The internet is a failed experiment. Facebook has turned into the state, Instagram has turned into a mall, and Twitter has turned into Instagram. Everywhere you look, there are stories. I try so hard not to click. To click less, at least. 

2.     I like filters that make me look like a shiny CGI fairy with fangs and Disney princess eyeballs. I don’t like filters that make my lips too big. I like funny dog videos and contextless anime clips and pretty girls in big pants. When something I tweet gets under ten likes, I usually delete it. I’m trying to build a brand, I guess. The word platform makes me think of security. Sometimes I want to tweet cynical things about the dogma of self-love, but I’m scared someone will call me out for being toxic, so I leave those in my drafts. Toxic isn’t a part of my brand. 

3.     People don’t want to be called out, so they hide their bad thoughts and pretend to be outraged by other people’s bad thoughts for likes and a sense of belonging. They compete for pity, clout, and validation. There is a terrible need for validation—the good news is it can be granted by anybody and taken away just as easily. Maybe this is normal and fine. 

4.     The last time I saw my friend Dominique, I complimented her jacket. I posted a picture of her to my Instagram story and minutes later, an advertisement popped up for the exact jacket she was wearing. I felt afraid, betrayed by my own two thumbs, which seem to swipe and scroll of their own accord. 

5.     I’m trying to turn things around, so I drive to the gas station and buy a Powerball ticket. Afterwards, I print out a bunch of billionaire heads and paint red crosses over their eyes for catharsis. My printer’s color cartridges are almost empty, so the billionaires’ faces all come out a sickly shade of green. I position the cut-out heads around my lottery ticket and make a wish. I send a picture of the Zuckerberg head to my friend on Facebook Messenger, and he says, I hope he’s watching.

6.     In preparation for the big Powerball drawing, I create a Pinterest board to log all the expensive furniture I’ll need to fill the lavish house I’ll buy with my winnings. I scroll through antique bookshelves, velvet couches, and leather ottomans. Everything will be better when I have a shower with omnidirectional spray jets. The drains in rich people showers never get clogged. You never have to find out what’s down there. 

7.     Some Zoomer on TikTok recommends listening to video game soundtracks as a substitute for Adderall. She claims to have finished writing a paper in just an hour while listening to the Mario Kart song, and several people in the comments have chimed in with similar success stories. I’m not one to question the wisdom of teenagers with ADHD, so I blast my brain with Nintendo music all day. No results to boast of thus far. TikToks are beginning to feel like really insidious commercials, but then again what doesn’t?

8.     One of these days I’m going to jump into a lake with my phone in my back pocket. Oh wait, it’s fucking waterproof.  

 9.     Only forty minutes until I find out if I’m a millionaire or a sucker. I think about all the people I’d give money to and all the people I wouldn’t give money to. I think about how, when I’m rich, I won’t need a platform. I’ll be able to delete the apps, every last one, and become one with the Cloud. 

10.   The results are in: I’m a sucker. And again, still.

Categories: Essay

Daily Drunk

Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter @Sbb_writer.

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