My hacked Instagram account is having more fun than me. How do I know this?
It sent this message to all my friends…
“I’m doing pretty good and extremely happy but am not sure you heard about the recently good news yet.”
… Which in my opinion should have been the first clue that it wasn’t me.
‘Cause yeah, I’m hanging in best I can during this pandemic… but “doing pretty good?” Not sure that’s the case. “Extremely happy?” Nah, don’t think so.
And then that “recently good news” it wanted to share. That cut me to the core.
I mean it’s bad enough to have FOMO about the posts you see from your friends… but when those posts are coming from pretend you, it really hurts.
Pretend me looks like me, has my photos, but unlike real me, pretend me isn’t locked down. Pretend me is out there livin’ life—not just happy, but EXTREMELY happy. Pretend me wouldn’t cite her recent masked trip to drop off her moth-eaten clothes at the dry cleaner as the most exciting thing that happened to her last week—pretend me has “RECENTLY GOOD NEWS.”
Fuck, I’d been hacked.
Fuck, I’d been violated.
How dare they? Who the hell is this? How the hell could they do this to me?
And then it occurred to me…
Maybe I wasn’t really hacked at all. Maybe pretend me just had enough of the current flatline that is my existence and showed up to take over the story of my sad lockdown life… kinda like Glinda the Good Witch or Clarence the Angel… or a really good P.R. person… Maybe pretend me got into my Amazon and saw that I’d ordered a Yonanas Machine that makes an ice cream-like substance out of frozen fruit, and even more masks in even more fabrics and colors, and an air fryer even though I don’t cook and Levain thousand calorie boulder-like chocolate-chip cookies from NYC just cause I could and said no. NO, real Eileen. This isn’t who you are. I’ll save you. You are struggling and clearly going through your process but we can’t let your friends know. They’ll worry. I got you, real Eileen. I’ll buy you a little time. I’ll reach out and tell them you’re okay, even though you’re clearly, clearly not.
And it worked. She did kinda save me. But not the way pretend me had planned…
‘Cause a funny thing happened that day. I woke up to so many messages from my real friends. And I do truly have so many. You’ve been hacked, they said. I don’t think this sounds like you. Are you okay? I knew it wasn’t you ‘cause it wasn’t funny. I knew it wasn’t you ‘cause it asked me for money…
And one message from a kinda distant friend I’ve always liked and known for a long time but our interactions were mainly light social niceties in the grocery store, or when she was on the arm of her ex-husband, who I am very close to. She said she had gone down the road in conversation with pretend me for just a little while and it was so disconcerting because she had been so happy to think she’d been talking with real me… And that she was gonna call me tomorrow to catch up.
She was gonna call me?
Had we ever had a phone conversation before? Nope. Okay, that’s a little odd, but sure.
And she called me the next day. And we did catch up. And it wasn’t superficial at all. It was actually a very real, very touching—very deep conversation in which she told me what she was going through with her youngest child getting ready to go off to college and how confusing and weird this time was. And I realized that even though I’d always pegged her as this very zen very at peace person—she’s an artist—even she was roiled by this time. Even she was struggling. And there was something about the fact that she wasn’t someone I always talk to that made our conversation more meaningful, and the interaction more helpful to me. Having this conversation with someone I’ve known so long at arm’s length made it oddly even more intimate.
And so we decided there was more to say. And we made a plan to outside distant meet this week and talk more. And I told her she could bring her paints. And I’m gonna bring my one thousand calorie boulder-like Levain cookies from NY and share them. ‘Cause they’re actually meant for sharing. They’re too much to take on all by yourself. They’re truly quite overwhelming alone.
So thanks, pretend me. I did report you and delete you but I appreciate you reaching out, I really do. I can’t say what the future holds, but I hope you understand that at this moment I’ll no longer be needing your services. I think I can take it from here.
But wait—please just quick eyeball my Amazon every now and then. If I ever do order that giant electric roller machine thing that‘s about pony-sized, costs over $2000 and makes your sheets come out all smooth and perfect like in a hotel… give me a little ping, will ya? ❏
Eileen Heisler is a writer, director, and co-creator of The Middle and other things. In preparation for November 3rd, she is practicing her deep breathing. But in case that doesn’t work, she has the internet’s last available mangle in her cart.