I stare at the glowing white light of my computer screen mortified. Moments earlier I had been woken from sleep by Matt, “Phoebe! Wake up! Something has gone terribly wrong”, he says, “you need to see this”.
My mind is racing, running through a list of possible reasons he may have for disturbing me in the middle of a dream. “Is everything okay? What is it?”, I ask. He turns the laptop screen to me, it takes my blurry eyes a moment to adjust to the bright light and focus on the image staring out at me from the screen.
What I see is horrifying. A photo of Matt and I from a friend’s party, but not just any photo, this is the worst photo ever taken. I do not remember leaving the house looking like Rosie O’Donnell and Courtney Love’s hybrid offspring.
My skin is white, pasty and greasy and I am puffy and bloated like a marshmallow. The hairstyle I had taken an hour to perfect looks like the refuge centre for disadvantaged and abandoned wildlife creatures all knotted, dull and lifeless. And where is my neck? Did my abdomen get hungry and eat it?
Matt has not fared any better, one eye is half-shut and the other is completely closed. He has a crooked smile across his face and his neck is strained, making his head look like a football. If he were seen by the authorities lurking around a dark alleyway he would definitely be arrested.
This is not good.
Immediately I am wide awake, we click-through the next photo and it’s just as bad, so is the next one and the next one and the next one. We spiral out of control and begin to assess the damage. What time is it? How many people have been online and seen this in London and back home? What’s the time difference? Who was online and commenting at that time of day and for the love of God how do I get this off my profile immediately?
We are both mortified. The new version of Facebook has thrown me for a loop and I cannot find where to un-tag us, detach us from this mess of white skin and bad hair. I didn’t ask for a timeline, I never wanted a timeline, but Zuckerberg and his band of minions have forced it on me and now I can’t use the darned thing. I knew I should’ve worn a dress with capped sleeves to that party, it was too soon to go strap-less.
I quickly open Google and type in the magic words ‘how do I un-tag photos on Facebook’. We are not alone, in 0.17 seconds Google has produced 225,000 results on the subject.
My fingers cannot work quick enough as I frantically remove them from my timeline and un-tag myself. Why is Facebook asking me so many questions? Just get them down! Immediately! The only thing you need to know, Facebook, is that this is an emergency.
Having successfully removed the photos from my timeline and deleted all tags I go into damage control mode. I have spent a considerable amount of time building a reputation of not looking like a wounded albino wilder beast to my Facebook friends. All my hard work has been shattered in a matter of hours.
I have dedicated large amounts of my time to carefully selecting only the most flattering, slimming, grease-free photos of myself to share with the world-wide web. Prior to this incident my friends had thought of me as a tanned, slim and care free person with excellent hair lounging around the Mediterranean.
This most recent series of photographs, and the last image of me etched into their minds, paints a picture of the Yeti on heat, squeezed into a tube sock like a stuffed ham, gorging itself on wine and cake.
My Facebook profile has quickly gone from a revered homage to my travel exploits as a good-looking, thin person to a public wall of shame powered by bingo wings and binge eating.
There was a time when attending a house party, wedding or your favourite pub/club on a night out was a care free experience, but that was B.F (Before Facebook). Now, after a night out, you live in fear.
You wake up in the morning and login immediately to see who has been uploading photos. The first 24 hours after a night out are critical, this is the time when they will upload and this is the time when they will tag.
When it comes to Facebook, your friends have no mercy. In fact the more shameful, exposing and degrading the photo the more your chances of being tagged increase.
Waking up to face a hangover and trying to work out if you were legally under the limit yet so you could drive to McDonald’s by 10:30am used to be your biggest problem. Now, you wake up and cringe as the traumatising and confusing events of the night before are splayed across your news feed in 13-inch, 1.8GHz, intel core duo processed high-definition goodness for 541 of your closest friends to see.
There is a reason that nobody has a good, clear shot of the Yeti, my friends and quite simply, it’s because it’s not a pretty sight. So afford me the same privilege, steer clear of me with your 500 optical macro zoom at parties and please, don’t tag me.