The Echo Chamber
A smiling face greeted me without so much as a warning, exploding outward from the Facebook ticker sidebar like rainwater from a Louisiana floodgate. I winced.
For what it was worth, it was a good photo. Her makeup was well done, hiding well the ravages of the oncoming Wall, rapidly aproaching. The lighting lit her new hair color up in warm and pleasant tones. The resolution was sharp but not granular, clean.
Yet cracks loomed in the facade. Her smile was a little forced, seeming a touch too self-aware for the pure expression of youthful confidence and happiness that she hoped to engender. She was significantly overweight, though not obese, obvious from the rounded shape of her jawline and the hump of the shoulders, just visible above where the picture cut off. In an unfortunate genetic roll of the dice the woman had been cursed with a larger-than-average nose, and a lifetime of misaligned teeth left uncorrected left her smile toothy and crooked.
She was not quite ugly. She was, however, a picture of American mediocrity, of potential beauty left ungroomed, overgrown with the weeds of neglect and self-abuse.
Fourteen overnight hours had passed since she had posted the picture, a time frame which had garnered her 29 ‘likes’ and a flood of positive comments. Curious.
I looked deeper. “Beautiful!”, one comment lied. And again, “Stunning!” Once more, “Blonde bombshell!”
Twenty-nine likes, 11 comments. To the last, all by other women.
It all made sense now. The community knows that on the cognitive level, women are hilariously bad at understanding men’s attraction triggers; hence the relentless pursuits of education and careers, the trojan horses of false confidence and snark, the tragic defacement of their youthful bodies with the scrawlings of a high-school dropout tattoo artist. Yet here was de facto proof that what women presumed attractive, or at least would publicly give credit for, did not jibe with the shockingly honest vacuum left by the paucity of comparative male response.
The question remains as to what extent it was disingenously positive commentary for status building and relationship forming, and to what extent it was mere obvliousness to male attraction triggers. In this case I suspect that it’s more the former than the latter; the hamster is most effective in rationalization of one’s own flaws and foibles.
In any event, one should not be surprised by overblown egos in the Facebook era of instant gratification and hamster pellets. Examples like these serve as passive reminders of human connectivity gone haywire, and its inevitable false harvest.