Being online has never been more embarrassing. People are renting 10 minutes of time on private jets for the 'gram. The most innocuous and best-meaning of posts can spark outrage. You can't talk to someone on a plane without it becoming a viral story that leads to harassment. The president tweets.
But there's a lot of good stuff too, of course, which makes it hard to log off completely. That's why I humbly suggest creating anonymous accounts — Instagram and Tumblr are my preferred platforms — to escape it all.
It's not a finsta, exactly. And it's not an anonymous account that allows you to spew hatred and make racist comments without recourse, or creep on an ex. In fact, it's almost the opposite of all of that: A place where you can indulge wholly and completely in your interests and guilty pleasures and no one else knows or sees.
It's your little slice of anonymous internet heaven, an intentional, stress-free place of joy.
My Tumblr, which I've had for many years and has always been anonymous (even as a naive college freshman, I recognised the embarrassment inherent in posts on the platform), is a place I can reblog Sylvia Plath quotes and sepia-tinted photos of pens and journals strategically placed on a rustic writing desk and not worry about what anyone else thinks.
A more self-assured person might not care, but the fact is I don't necessarily want all of my friends and coworkers knowing that I was up until 3am looking at pictures of Parisian cafes and reading about the Combahee River Collective and Slenderman. I just want to post sappy love quotes without judgement. I want to be basic in peace.
At first, Tumblr was a platform that fed my burgeoning political and policy interests and allowed me to learn about things I wouldn't have otherwise. Doing so anonymously gave me the freedom to look potentially (read: definitely) stupid and not face any backlash or internet rage. More recently, Tumblr has become an escape from the horrors of the news cycle, a place where I can read earnest poetry and look at landscape shots instead of refreshing Twitter for the 200th time to see what fresh hell is upon us.
Then there's my anonymous Instagram, which I use to follow accounts dedicated to interior design, fashion, inspirational quotes, Bachelorette contestants and all other forms of "embarrassing" content I actually really love.
Near the end of 2017, something weird started to happen. Snapchat's iPhone app kept logging me out of my account. The first few times, I promptly logged back in, but after the fourth or fifth time I didn't bother. I was already getting bored with Snapchat and I soon found that Instagram's copycat Stories feature was just as good — if not better.
While this also acts as a reprieve from Trump and his bullshit, the added benefit of the private Insta is that I don't have to follow my friends, family and people from high school whose names I barely remember. There are no stakes, no pretending, no comparisons.
I can unabashedly comment on Karamo's newest Queer Eye group shot and watch makeup tutorials I'll never attempt, without having my joyous post stream interrupted by the fifth picture of my second cousin's bachelorette weekend or the pile of trash in my old coworker's "artsy" New York snap.
There are no bad feelings, no news accounts and best of all, no followers. It's just me, Karamo and 400 other branded accounts dedicated to absolute nonsense and frivolity.
No doubt many people have accounts like that. If you don't, I can recommend enough making one or two of your own. You'll get a break from the news and your neighbour's baby pics and still get to see what Doug the Pug is up to. A win-win.