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The secret to finding true joy online? Embrace Your Most Trustworthy Self | Ione Gamble

I‘ve always been hyper aware of how I’m perceived. Like most “digital natives,” I know my angles, perfected the art of the not-too-serious Instagram caption, and frantically deleted my drunk Instagram Stories the morning after a big night out. But now we’re being asked to unleash our cringiest personalities on the internet, and I, for one, am in favor.

Meme accounts such as @afffirmations encourage a new type of oversharing online – accepting that ultimately we are all embarrassed on social media. “I’m scared, but I’m free” memes have swept Instagram, with accounts dedicated to cringe popping up alongside increased engagement in behavior that once would have induced days of dread.

Anecdotally, more of us are happy to send replies to stories from friends (and even strangers) as if they were published for our personal enjoyment; elsewhere, we comment on public posts with all the enthusiasm of a “live, laugh, love” Facebook mom.

This decision to be more authentic online may seem positive, but many of us remain reluctant to hang up our perfectly curated Facetuned selfies. The pristine facade that apps like Instagram have enabled for over a decade is hard to let go. In short, we are still afraid of being considered “too much”.

When it comes to posting something more personally or politically charged than a false claim meme, our fear of being wrong can be crippling. But this self-censorship is holding us all back – if we insist that online life has to be “perfect”, it’s not enjoyable for absolutely anyone. It is by reveling only in our wildest thoughts, and accepting that the Internet is as messy as our “real” lives, that we can escape the clutches of doomscrolling. We’re all angry – and I urge you to embrace embarrassment if you want to find true joy online.

Ione Gamble is the author of Poor Little Sick Girls: A Love Letter to Unacceptable Women



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