on grease, and dual narratives

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Transparency is something important, I think, and while nobody on the Internet could—or should—be completely transparent, I think it’s something we all need. A lil more transparency. Life’s too curated now; I kinda hate not knowing the actual truth about people. Are you actually doing well or is that healthy Bora-Bora glow just the C1 vsco filter? Even finstas are false narratives. 

So, some truth: I was a grease ball in my last video.

My last video, for those of you who haven’t seen it, was entitled “Revisiting my First Year College Goals,” and even though the video is, ostensibly, about me going over my expectations for college and yada yada yada, really, the video’s about me trying to fake not looking like a grease ball. This video is about me looking like a grease ball on camera, and pretending like I don’t know it, when in reality I’m really aware of the fact and trying to get over it.

And I know that most people don’t really care, and they’ll tell me, oh, we didn’t notice, or rachel, you look great, and I know that nobody cares as much as I do, and actually it’s really self-absorbed to be constantly self-deprecating (there’s a bigger picture here, promise, PLEASE READ TILL END), but for the sake of my sanity here, let’s dissect this photo:

This is a screenshot of me, drinking water from my hydroflask. I am drinking water from my hydroflask for two reasons:

one! I have eaten Vallarta’s Christian fries* two days in a row and feel the need to cleanse my system;

two! I am trying to confirm for myself, for the umpteenth time, that I have no jawline.

In this video, my hair is greasy. I have just woken up from a nap, and vaguely have that bleary I-know-what-I’m-saying-is-probably-stupid-but-I-don’t-really-care attitude. I’m also not wearing makeup, and my face has broken out more than normal, because see:

fries, grease, etc., etc., etc.

And dude, it’s okay. If I wasn’t okay with looking like a grease ball on camera and putting it on the Internet, I wouldn’t have put the video out. In fact, I was actually trying to make a point by making the effort to upload the video so that over seven hundred people could see what a messy human I am. 

Darling, I’m a mess; but darling, all messes have deeper meanings. At face value, you can look at my channel and think, Oi! I’ve figured her out! She’s trying to capitalize on the fact that she’s going to UCSD to get views and coin! (I’m actually not getting coin right now, but I will when I hit a thousand subscribers; #subscribe; #sueme; #screwyouyoutube) Or you can look at the underlying message and think, Oi! What’s the deeper narrative here?

Everything we publish online is A) fake, and B) has at least two storylines. It’s fake, because the accumulation of content we create automatically forms a storyline, and the storyline, no matter how “real” or “transparent” we are, will never be true to reality. So yes, it’s true, your Instagram feed is a story you’re creating for yourself, a brand you’re trying to embody. If you looked at Olivia Jade’s Instagram feed, you’d think, Oh, daaaaaang! She probably looks that great all the time! If you looked at my feed, you’d think, Aw, cute! Another lil asian girl! or something to that effect. (I’m actually going for quirky Asian girl-next-door, but you know, that’s pretty similar.) Every picture we post tells a story, the story of how we want to represent our lives.

And that’s where the dual narrative comes in. See, our Instagram feeds, Tweets, Snapchats, Veros, whatever, they’re all the Chosen Ones--all carefully chosen for the singular, monumental purpose of Representing Ourselves Online. Like my lit professor from fall quarter so eloquently put it, it’s how we want to be remembered. I don’t think a lot of people think of it that way, but--guess what--even though our generation grows older, our pictures are here to stay. Which means, random-sorority-girl-who’s-probably-more-intelligent-than-i-am, your pictures of partying at the Yo Gabba Gabba** house will live on in infamy, probably to the point of where your children will want to ask you the story(ies) behind the photo(s) with the guy(s) who aren’t their father(s), and/or then maybe all of you will rewrite Mamma Mia, but, like, it’ll, like, be nonfiction and suuuuuuper inspirational.

(Okay, just went off on a tangent there. Coming back. ETA 2 words.)

The stuff we post is how we want to appear, who we want to be, which, if you’ve had any life experience, is honestly just almost 100% likely that it’s not who we are. I might be the quirky Asian girl-next-door on Instagram, and maybe that’s part of who I am in real life, but there’s also a part of me that is a grease ball who often rereads the Donald Glover profile in the New Yorker*** and laughed through the entirety of Manchester at the Sea****. And so, in posting pictures and uploading “our lives” to the Internet, we create this dichotomy of a storyline: the surface-level storyline, the one we want people to believe; and the second one, the one that actually happens. There’s the person in the screen, and the person behind the screen, and very often—you might be surprised, or not—these two people are very different.

Because of this culture, this difference, we all become artists and agents and managers in how we represent ourselves, who we portray ourselves as, and I think a lot of people do this subconsciously. Also, you know, it’s a common perception that the Internet is just chock-full of boring stuff, but the truth is that while my generation posts a lot on the internet, we don’t appreciate mundanity. We like to post things for their significance, not their normalcy. We like to pretend that we lead special lives. As a result, we post on Instagram maybe once every couple weeks, to make people notice when we do, and to also assume a cool, dignified air. For heaven's sakes, we like to think of our Instagram posts as so significant that we upload to our stories to let our followers know when we posted. We are not our dear aunt Sallys, who post pictures every night of their beef stroganoff and strawberry shortcake and chicken potpie. No, daaaaaaarling, we C U R A T E. We D E S I G N. We P O R T R A Y. We S C U L P T. Some of us might use plaster, while others use Play-Dough, but it’s sculpting, nevertheless. It’s an art. It’s bathroom mirror selfies and trying to tweet intelligent things at your favorite film critic and putting “Public Figure” on your Instagram bio and pretending like you’re #makin #money #moves when your followers, friends, and (most of all) YOU know that you don’t, really. 

So this fake narrative, this story I’m creating for myself online? It’s the narrative of me trying to be as real as possible while also taking it in the context of knowing that it’s fake, like this representation of myself as a “grease-ball” throughout this post is fake, too. I’m part greaseball, part Wikipedia scourer, part AZN-GRL-NXT-DR, part who knows what else, and really only partly myself*****. I go to UCSD, and yes I use it for views, but also because it’s an experiment for me: can I take this über-niche thing and turn it into something legit? Or will I go down in the history books as only being the UCSD AZN-GRL-NXT-DR?

So I guess this is me asking you to not take me seriously. And I’m also asking future me, who will be reading this through to determine whether or not all these pop culture references were a good idea, to not take me seriously. Because it’s all art, and it’s all fake, and most people don’t understand it, so they try to pan it, but, you see (don’t you see?), that’s all just part of the game.

[ i really am a greaseball tho ]




*fries can't be Christian! only people can!!

***Warning: #$(@*())!!!(#*@()!((#&%&(@

****Warning: rating begins with the first letter of my name

*****lol what does this even mean


  1. I love this! I think online people are either totally fake and don'r realize it or they do but then maybe they're a bit too transparent is that makes sense? I think this is the correct middle in between.

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl


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