Often you awake in the morning a completely different person. Your brain grasps a new wisp of trick the day before, a corner of you gets rewired, and you’re different.
And even more often, you tend to forget the previous versions of yourself, or you just choose to forget. Who knows?
The first thing you reach for is your phone, always. On the brim of your bed, you grope for it. Your left thumb presses your touch ID to unlock, yes, unlock your world, your toes tuck into your flip-flops, you opened “Snapchat” “Instagram” “Facebook”, landed into these icons and you are safe.
As usual, you sit on the toilet and reply to all your Snapchat messages. Other days there would be only 20 pieces, but today you get more, for it is your birthday, but you just reply with the same smile anyways. It made you feel like, as you put it, a “pro”- put on your signature face (a sticky sweet smile, with eyes looking to your right) and your “sass”, click open a message not even looking at it, press “reply” and then “send”.
As a little birthday gift, you worship your own Instagram ratio- you following 156 people, but 507 following you. You feel like a celebrity, although really, you are just brushing your teeth in front of your drowsy opaque dorm windows. You imagine paparazzi out there, although in this girl school you and your roommates don’t even close the blinds when you change, even though most of your followers don’t know you well and, ha, you don’t know them. Made you feel a bit chilly, but thrillingly chilly.
In this new mood you dance into your room, do a little swirl to take a panorama video of it on Snapchat. Did your roommate just say something? You can’t hear her for you had to select all you Snapchat friends! You are busy, you’re already dealing with too much stuff at the same time, okay? Okay, you raise your head, chin’ s up, smile on. This split-second “signature face” should be enough, and “unrude”; at least you heard her. You told yourself.
You open the door to get water. A fluttering sound of paper.
“Surprise!” your roommates laugh inside. Looking up, decoration paper, photos and sticky notes cover the door.
You snatch your phone out of your pocket, take a photo and post it on Instagram. “Lots of luv #birthday #BFFs” . 3 laughing emojis on your screen, a poor faint smile on your face.
Then you start looking. The photos are of a girl who is identical to you but whom you don’t know, beaming in minion costumes with one leg up in the air, and making a face in a little black dress, with no guys around, free and… “Brainless!” you think. Ugh. Her dimples and braces! You feel persecuted as if being jeered by a gargoyle. Someone wrote with a silver Sharpie “JUST BE YOU ZUMA!”.
“That’s not me,” you mutter, and frown a bit at seeing the letters “Z-U-M-A”. Your brain vomited a gush of forgotten things. You try to swallow them back but they just keep gurgling out.
You remember when you first came to high school, you had to create an account for everything and pretend you already knew these social media, none of which existed in your country, like the back of your hand. You only sent and replied when you wanted to say something, and on Snapchat you made real faces. You tool 2 minutes to take a photo, decorate it and caption it. Ew, dumb.
Then your brain started learning new tricks more fanatically. “ Oh you need to reply to people! To everyone!” “Just comment random stuff under my posts. I don’t care what you say, only want to see the numbers.” “Look at my Insta ratio!”… Everything you heard from others, your brain programs into you. You became Almeta, your new name on social media, “ambitious” in Latin.
But you were Zuma, “peace” in arabic. You were.
“That’s not me.” you say, starting to rip everything off the door.
Riven paper flutter onto the floor.
It’s 9 pm. “So weird nobody liked my birthday post!” you charge into the room, trying to shrug a little. No one answers.
How rude. You think.