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THE NEUROSIS REPORT: In which I clumsily attempt to collate Heminway and Instagram.

Hemingway chauvinistic, mythical, maligned Hemingway who, lest we forget, eventually shot himself hard in the face likened his theory of writing to an iceberg, with the majority of the body hidden from view. He claimed that by omitting key aspects of the story known to the writer, forcing the reader to feeeeeeel the edges of them and, for lack of clearer reference points, paint the picture with the colours of his own life until it was a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive. This act of cutting back a narrative until only the barest, whitest bones are left makes the reader form the flesh themselves, a device that, for Hemingway, allowed the creation of story whose emotional resonance with the reader is greater than the sum of its parts. My current working theory on this (picture me pushing glasses up my nose, shrugging) is that the inclination to use someone elses fiction to reflect back elements of our own emotional experience stems not only from the ease with which they fit into the story but also the extent to which some experiences do not seem to fit within the readers own life. We all experience moments of dissonance (picture me behind a big leather desk, shrugging) where an action or incident seems profound in a way that is incoherent with its surrounding realities and feels almost absurd. These misplaced moments, too keenly felt, cannot be articulated or actualised within the context of the rest of our lives. They dont fit with the mundanity of the majority of our interaction with the world, the minutiae of thought and action and reaction. By injecting these into the framework of a story, they are given context a platform on which we can isolate them and the story takes on a profundity that has much more to do with the reader than with itself. (How much are YOU enjoying my cereal box literary criticism?!) This relationship between the technical truth and events as we experience them becomes particularly tense when you consider the extent to which most of us are writing and editing our own narratives daily. Every human interaction has some element of projection we are continually presenting slightly different versions of ourselves, multifarious personalities that shift subtly with our situation and audience. However, whilst the differences in the self that we present during most social interactions are mainly unconscious and intangible, the same cannot be said of the online representation of ourselves that we create via various types of social media (ew - I hate this phrase so much you guys! Im going to call it SM for now, which I encourage you to think of as SadoMasochism ). When the new format of Facebooks Timeline was unveiled in early 2012, it was sold as a way to show The story of your life on a single page. This is an admission of how the perceived purpose of SM has changed - Facebooks original slogan was simply connect with those around you. This isnt a criticism - I am totally complicit in the idea that having an online presence (also ew) is a necessary and chiefly positive thing (well duh, pretty much the defining feature of my generation is

our capacity and willingness to talk about ourselves on the interwebss). Convenient communication now seems secondary to the expectation that we should create (and curate) a complete representation of our lives. As with any narrative, the end result is defined both by whats included and whats left out. On LinkedIn the specifics of the details we choose to present about ourselves are suitably predictable, so one-directional (Zayn! Niall! Louis! Liam! Haarrrryyyy! Ha.) is the function of the site and the reasons for using it. Whilst there is a certain amount of crossover between the reasons to exclude certain information from your LinkedIn profile and to do the same with your Facebook (I guessing you have some useful business contact lurking in your 500 friends, and your mum. People who dont need to see you sweaty and drunk of a Tuesday anyhow) the purpose behind omitting information from the latter is often far more personal. In both scenarios you are deliberately creating a specific avatar of yourself, a ghost of who you want to be to the people you want to tell. Both representations say as much about us, our aspirations and the more deliberate aspects of identity, as the target audience. However, the difference lies in the fact that the Facebook version is the self that you want to sell to your friends, not your employers. Once the superstructure of employer and employee (and the power asymmetry therein) is removed, the self that your selling is one defined by your values, rather than the tacit values that underpin professional relationships (efficiency, discretion etc.). What this means is that the person you are forming when you are careful picking an amusing but suitably obscure (anyone whos anyone has in-jokes, natch) quote for your about me, is the alpha-level you that the specific coincidences of your personality generates - the funnest, coolest version of yourself, the one that youd probably make out with if you met them IRL. (<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3) One of the most potent online success stories of recent years is Instagram, whose business model revolves around purposely removing detail from peoples photos, blurring lines and colours. The effect is something that the New Yorker described as instant nostalgia, the lack of detail mimicking the information that the mind naturally forgets, aligning memory and the momento mori of the snapshots reality, injecting a photo with emotion normally provided by time. The process of Facebook and Instagram is different - the former demands the deliberate addition or omission of specific information, whilst the latter obscures detail through a set of external rules that have been created by somebody else - but the direction and appeal feels similar. We are looking for a representation of the self that aligns more neatly with the self that we feel. To Aristotle, poetry came closer to the truth than history because the poet is less concerned with factual accuracy than with making things more profound this artistic license came closer to the actual experience of being human than a technically more truthful account would. And so it is with the tools we use to represent our lives - only by the omission of certain details can we create a mirror that we feel adequately reflects our lives the way we feel them to be.