Unburying my Internet self

Cutting Room Floor

Miyako Singer_online

“My name is Madrid, but call me Maddy. A real JAP, a Japanese-Jewish American Princess.”

So read the excruciating bio of my old Polyvore account, a social media platform where you make and share “sets,” digital clothing collages that showcase capitalism at its finest. In case there was any confusion, my name is definitely not Madrid. That’s a name I used at the mall when I was “pretending to be rich” with my then-best friend that I recycled online in order to protect my real identity. The bio goes on to list my interests: flappers, Alice in Wonderland, and in all-caps, GLEE!

I quit Polyvore when I was 16 — far later than appropriate — and then fell almost immediately into the rabbit hole that is Tumblr.

By the end of my Tumblr tenure in my freshman year of college, I had filled over 2,000 pages with gifsets of Harry Potter couples I “shipped” and soul-crushingly handsome photos of Idris Elba. I spent all my free hours  —  and hours I should’ve spent studying for AP tests  —   gushing in all caps about why Jesse St. James and Rachel Berry of “Glee” were perfect for each other. They’re matched in intellect and ambition, they would never hold each other back and they would have really great sex on top of a grand piano.

When I got to college, I buried all of this. I got a boyfriend (finally!) and was desperate to begin the next four years with a clean slate. New College Me was confident, cool and had definitely never read Dramione fanfic. I really didn’t want anybody, most of all my happy-go-lucky paramour, to see my “GPOY” (gratuitous picture of yourself) tag consisting mostly of “30 Rock” quotes about loving food and hating parties. I drank now! I could take shots of shitty vodka at frats and barf only half the time — and pretty discreetly too.

I hid all evidence of my Klaine shipping, self-pitying, #UNF #OMGGG tagging online self. I logged off my Tumblr and didn’t mention it for a year. When my boyfriend asked me, innocently, how I knew one of my Tumblr-carryover Facebook friends, I grew flustered and claimed I’d met her at summer camp. I went back on my Tumblr to delete the most incriminating embarrassing content and changed the attached email so nobody could find it. I did much the same to my Facebook, deleting my old Photo Booth profile pictures from back when I wore glasses. I rewrote my own history, painting big white blanks over my middle and high school years like a totalitarian bureaucrat.  

There were good reasons to distance myself from Tumblr. For the first couple of years, I was online, I was all for that “Pizza is my boyfriend and I hate the outdoors! People are the worst” rhetoric. It made the fact that I was a studious homebody with a limited social life feel like a moral choice instead of a case of easily surmountable confidence issues. Tumblr became a place where performing anti-sociality and introversion was encouraged and glorified. As it turns out, I don’t even like pizza, and I really like people.

The best thing that happened to me was that I became genuinely too busy to maintain an online presence. My last post on my Tumblr in October 2013 was an announcement that I was running the Tumblr account of a college club. I didn’t mean to never log on again, but I had stuff to do — 17 units, multiple clubs, a job, real friends and, most importantly for starry-eyed, under-kissed freshman me  —  a boyfriend.

It took more than a year to become secure in the fact that my friends and boyfriend actually liked me. I became more open about my Internet past. I could joke about it. I dug up screenshots of my embarrassing Polyvore bio and pictures of 15 year old, frizzy-banged me doing the “Glee” “Loser” pose for their 2010 concert tour.

I wish I hadn’t deleted huge swaths of my Tumblr posts. In them, I could have traced my path from slut-shaming, casual racist, Twilight fan to Skyler-White-stanning, SJW-in-training who understood that Twilight was bad for feminism but old white dudes are also terrible to teens and should give them a break for their weird, sparkling sexual fantasies. My social media shows me how far I’ve come.

Also, those old accounts would have made great content for my Twitter.  

Contact Miyako Singer at [email protected].