Facebook: Enough of the Internship Post-boasts

When did my newsfeed become my nightmare? A place where all my insecurities and failures and late night feelings of being just not good enough could harmonise in blinking black and white.

University acceptance letters: that’s when it started. While my UCAS screen slammed me with a stony white silence, others capitalised and emoticoned their overwhelming joy at getting that place here, that place there. I waded nobly through this sea of embittered likes and exclamation marks (pressed like myself) and hit refresh on UCAS. Acceptance letters: acceptance likes.

But these statuses were just the blow of a starting whistle. They broke the tape; they started the race. Now, at university the word of terror is internship. 

But I decide that I won’t let this scary word faze me. It’s ok that I haven’t got a status worthy internship for Mark Zuckerberg like everyone else definitely has. I’m feeling quite good about myself. I’ve been to the library. The book I took out weighs me down with pride and security as it sits in my backpack. I’ve taken a book out and I went to the gym. It was last week but I can still feel the ache and so the success is still with me as I confidently navigate my newsfeed.

Pictures of club nights, pictures of food. I smugly traverse the trivial waters of hangover statuses and juvenile frapes.

But oh, look. What’s this that’s climbed so high on my feed? Emily so and so is delighted to report that she has just got an internship! 

The terror is inked back into the word. It’s at the BBC I read. Ah ha! A dream come true I’m sure. 

I‘m sure because it’s my dream, and she’s living it, and I’m reading about it on Facebook. She’s living; I’m liking.

I took out a book. I went to the gym. 

But even though I’m not quite collapsed with envy and existential despair, yet, now I don’t see so much point in fishing out that library book. What is the point; it’s not an internship. It stays lurking in the depths of my bag. Its weight feels a little different on my back now. I carry it around until late fees force me to let it go, unread.

I soldier on, I scroll down, and soon Emily’s status becomes yesterday’s newsfeed, today’s chip shop paper. It’s the final year of my degree now and internship anxieties have simmered down. I have made it through three summers un-interned (but well travelled) and I’ve not been euthanized just yet. And years of Facebook envy have afforded me an Olympic scrolling speed. I heed the warning signs of emoticons and exclamation marks and whiz past any status that seems dangerous. 

Until I see it. Staring me down in obnoxious blue and white. It tricked me with its subtlety and I’ve read before I can scroll. Three hours ago: Tom has just got a place on a grad-scheme. Deloitte. One of thousands of applicants.

A grad-scheme!

It has all the terror of internship, with a sense of incoming doom and uncertainty added on. Internship just meant a summer of failure; this is a lifetime. When did I miss people applying for all these graduate jobs? What secret society was I not a part of, one which gilded my peers for success and left me languishing without direction? I secretly suspect the careers service.

Now I slow my scroll and there’s more and more. Job success, masters places rush towards me and I can’t dodge the flow. Hundreds of Facebook friends and every one is beating me in the race. No, they’re trampling me with their success. 

They all have a scheme; I have a black hole.

Our parents only had to cope with the intimate successes of their close friends or work colleagues. At worst, they heard about the golden children of their parents’ friends, and rolled their eyes. Now Facebook has made these golden children our friends, and chronicles their successes in a minute by minute report. Their brags are a chorus that haunts us every day, anywhere.

Yes, our parents’ generation had their own demons to dodge; they had competition, success, failure, false starts, all of these joys, too. But did they have to cope with a bombardment of their peer’s post-boasting as we do thanks to Facebook? No, they didn’t.

And they didn’t have to like it.

Words by Kate Smith