It is the summer and it is 2015. Despite this present time, I can’t stop thinking about something I once said during the summer of 2013, when I declared that I would “literally” never participate in an Instagram fad (new to me and my friends, probably not to other people) called “#tbt.”
My exact words, I believe, were something along the lines of it being the “stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.” I was particularly irked by people who posted things from, say, October 2012 in May 2013 with a caption like “‘#tbt to bid day with my bestie! Forgot this day happened hahaha.”‘(sidenote: 2012/ 13 was also a time before “bae.” What did we even say before bae? I could not tell you.)
I wasn’t opposed to posting old pictures, per se, nor was I necessarily against the principle of pandering for online external validation. It was just something about the hashtag #tbt that, to me, that revealed an unsavory need to receive likes- a need of which everyone on Instagram is complicit, but I thought everyone maintained a certain degree of decency to mask. Thus, I declared that I would never ever ‘#tbt.’
I should say that this summer was a weird one: I recently discovered by looking through my journal (which, it must be noted, I only bother to write in when I am feeling especially angsty) that I had three goals for myself at the time: lose five pounds (I had a particularly bad round of finals binging that year; I accomplished this but only because I got food poisoning in July), become the “kind of person who wears hoop earrings” (if you are the kind of person who needs to put that on your to do list, you are never going to become the kind of person who wears hoop earrings) and learn how to take the “perfect selfie” (?????) (I definitely did not accomplish this).
I have “#tbt”-ed many a time, however, since declaring I would never ever “#tbt.” At first, I did this defensively: My first #tbt was in June 2014 with a deliberately unflattering picture of myself as a three-year-old, when I was wearing a red jumpsuit and looking at the camera with a sensual, asexual gaze. My caption was “#tbt to the fond memories of my youth as a smug, inbred Regency-era lord,” the location “Little Lord Faunterloy’s Closet.” It didn’t get very many likes. Still, it was pandering, and I couldn’t stop. I #tbt-ed a month later on my friend Shayna’s birthday, which was earnest enough but also coupled by a disclaimer that this was the only “#tbt” I would “deign” to do. This was not true. I wanted to do so much more! So I did: I followed it up with another, during the following Halloween, of a picture of myself and my siblings dressed in our 2005 Halloween costumes. I had dressed as a carbohydrate, but still: pandering! Each time I #tbt-ed, I did so with lessening irony in my caption but heightening guilt in my soul. Justin Bieber once told me to “never say never,” and he was right. I said never, and now I hate myself. I am a fraud. I have had enough. I would like to #tbt unfettered; sans guilt and sans irony. So I have decided on an act of contrition: Every other week, for the rest of the summer (or until I can’t do it anymore) I am going to #tbt. Then, the following week, I will write a blog post about it, serving a dual #tbt purpose: it will analyze both the picture from last week’s #tbt as well as the act of my own #tbt-ing from the previous week.
So, if you will: this is a #tbt to last week when I decided to do a #tbt to the year 2001, but, mostly, this is a #tbt redemption to a time in the summer of 2013 when I felt like I needed to decry something, so I decried all things #tbt.
Analysis below: This is a picture of me in 2001, I think. I liked reading, and my grandma worked at a library, so that is probably why I am wearing a shirt with a cat on it that says “Reading Rhythms.” (The cat is playing guitar and not even reading, which I cannot explain.) I am also, obviously, on a tennis court and holding a tennis racket. I did play tennis. I was not particularly good or bad at it. This is why I don’t really remember anything about the time I played tennis, except for the one time I was serving a ball and it flew over the fence and hit my cousin Sofia, who was visiting from California, on the head. The coach stared at me for a long time and said, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” At the time I thought he was impressed, but I don’t think that anymore.
A final note on my footwear. Looking past the fact that I am wearing sandals and socks, it’s dumb. My arches are not supported at all! How did my mother let me out of the house?
As you can see, I was still feeling very insecure with my #tbt abilities at this point in time. I did not even use the #tbt hashtag! My syntax also reveals further discomfort- on social media, the use of “u” and “ur” is generally a signal that one is not serious (think of the way Ezra Koenig tweets). Plus, the “when ur ____ and u/r _____” verbal meme is another way of expressing irony.
I don’t want to be too harsh on myself but, for this week, I don’t feel that I can give myself anything higher than a C+. I am getting the “+” only because I fought the good fight and #tbt-ed at all.
I will soldier on! Until we #tbt once more,