Sarah was content before she joined Facebook.
She had been popular at school. She had glided through the corridors with her good looks and quick wit. She saw it as her duty to enlighten the lesser beings (the nerds, the weirdos, the ugly) of their place in the world, beneath her. She had been so successful at growing up, that it never occurred to her to move out from her home town and seek further approval; she simply was great, so why try? She’d always assumed that those nerds, weirdos and uglies would still be impressed.
Then she joined Facebook, and discovered those same hapless beings were running companies or living in far off lands. One was even a model. She had been happy imagining how sad and sorry they all were, but instead she could see their photos of glamour and adventure, and excited posts of achievement and popularity. And she had nothing to post. She went to work at the hairdressers, she went home and watched X Factor, she went to the supermarket.
“I think you’re either good at being a child or good at being an adult,” posted one ex-dweeb, all her pimples gone. The accompanying selfie showed her drinking cocktails in an exclusive club in London. “And now I’m a surgeon in Harley Street, it makes all the bullying worthwhile. But it seems like all the cool kids are now just stuck in the same town in crappy jobs, pretty sad really.” The post got two hundred likes and thirty comments agreeing. Sarah was incensed.
So she set out to prove them all wrong. She spent two days plotting and shopping. She travelled to London and scoured the streets. She sweet talked every good-looking stranger. She wore her credit card down to a stub. And then she unleashed the new Sarah onto Facebook. Careful not to show all the evidence of her sparkly new life all at once, just a few details at a time.
Monday: The picture on Sarah’s Facebook page showed a pair of men’s shoes by the door “Oops, looks like I did it again #YOLO”. She had bought the shoes in Shoezone, they were accepting returns.
Tuesday: picture showed a Ferrari with the number plate SRH 2. “Guess who’s got a new car!” She had wandered around Chelsea for three hours looking for a car to pose with. She had to balance just above the bonnet so as not to set off the alarm.
Wednesday: picture showed Sarah grinning in a selfie with a barman, “Time for a little drinkie.” The little drinkie cost a day’s wages. She had tried to get a few of the other patrons to join her for a photo, but they had backed away from her.
Thursday: picture showed Sarah with a horse, nose to nose, “My own Ferdinand, looking gorgeous as always.” She hadn’t been able to get on the horse, and it had taken many attempts before Dobson (the horse was not called Ferdinand) allowed her near him.
Friday: ten pictures, all showing her new haircut from a different angle. The haircut was real.
Her newly added friends liked and commented, with gushing praise for her glamourous lifestyle. Sarah felt such a high, riding on the crest of praise, she didn’t even think about how she might maintain proof of her glamourous existence. Every time she logged on (thirteen times in one hour) there was someone else giving her the validation she craved, that she deserved; even if the reason they were giving it was not the reason she deserved it.
“Oh you have a horse! He’s beautiful!”
“Love the hair, honey.”
Saturday morning, she opened up Facebook with glee, and with eyes still blurry from sleep. She clicked on a PM and felt her stomach drop as dread took over. Her one true nemesis was on Facebook, the worst gossip she knew. The only one that could unravel her web of lies.
“Sarah! Wonderful that you’re on Facebook finally, but what’s all this about a horse? And men’s shoes? I’ll call you later, love mum.”