Tomorrow, my concerned mother will ask what time I got to bed.
“I don’t know. Sometime after midnight,” I’ll respond, but the mental snapshot of my computer before I turned it off clearly read 1:27.
“Homework?” Mom will ask, her eyes sincere and sympathetic.
“Yeah. Homework.” I’ll avoid eye contact to keep her from seeing the guilt staining my eyes. I’ll know the truth. It won’t be homework.
But this conversation will take place tomorrow morning.
Right now, it’s 11:45 p.m. A dull yellow light seeps through my grandmother’s lampshade onto the messy contents of my desk. The Piano Guys’ “Rockelbel’s Canon” buzzes softly from my laptop, inaudible to my long asleep mother. My favorite fleece blanket wraps my limbs tightly in my swivel chair. A notebook, open to a blank page, reflects its perfect whiteness into the cold air of my room.
Tomorrow, school demands a completed creative writing draft. For days I’ve fretted over doing my homework without staying up late Sunday evening, but here I brood, surrendering my sleep to the wee hours of Monday morning. I sulk, staring at the clock, hoping that it will turn back upon receiving my angry vibes. I ask myself how I let this happen again.
I sigh. No use identifying the cause. Might as well get working to minimize the effect. There is so much to do, so much stress, so much pressure. I must focus.
Suddenly a mysterious energy interrupts my rationale behind commencing my draft. My mental process shifts, as if now under the influence of a foreign force.
“You deserve this. It’s okay,” a voice says from the back of my mind. “Just five minutes won’t hurt.”
I agree with this familiar voice without much thought. I set my hands into motion, typing quickly before I think through the consequences. My fingers swiftly slide and click. My heart beats slightly faster as I scurry.
I exhale. Relief fills my body as my eyes soak up the words and pictures framed by the solid blue background, as if the opiate diffused into my brain and I forgot the pain of the needle.
Selfies of insecure middle schoolers litter the screen. “19 Reasons to Start Wearing Black Lipstick Immediately” blares its presuming title, accompanied by a rather attractive woman flaunting a quite unattractive lip color. “Definite Proof that Lady Gaga’s Stage Show Will Never Be Topped” insults my intelligence. Overeager Cally posts a foodie of her morning breakfast cereal that literally looks like every other bowl of cereal. Annoying acquaintances nag me to join their quest to grow corn and pigs consisting of nothing more than LED lights. Bob Lloyd shouts his excitement over his shiny red Ford F150. Wait, who is Bob Lloyd?
But there I stare, entranced as I scroll down my newsfeed soaking up the superficiality. Fluffy golden retriever puppies spring to water for the first time; I giggle at their adorableness. I snap open “Seven Ways to Know He’s the One,” immediately comparing my relationship with their flaky but juicy advice. “Twenty-Five Great Photobombs” sounds just too fun to miss; I amuse myself over these perfectly timed masterpieces. An attractive senior photo of a classmate claims the spot of her profile pic; soon I’m flipping through her boyfriend’s mom’s page, gazing at vacation pictures from two years ago. For some odd reason I still click after the forty-seventh picture of the Rocky Mountains. I have no clue who this person is, but flipping through this album makes the world seems simple. There’s no creative writing draft deadline in this album. Just mountains.
Of all the ways I could procrastinate, it’s baffling that Facebook so easily seduces me, when I boast that I’m a classier girl who walks her dog and plays the cello. After all, a girl who achieves a 4.0 GPA doesn’t succumb to the foul entertainment choices of the hoi polloi. A girl who’s expected to get scholarships and become a lawyer or a doctor certainly is better than that. She doesn’t waste time watching movies with friends on Friday nights; she studies for her plethora of AP classes. She doesn’t flip through Netflix on Saturdays; she travels between music rehearsals and her job and church leadership meetings.
Perhaps, however, my world of high expectations and overanalytical mind cause me to greedily soak up this drug I outwardly condemn. Truth is, I’d play my cello to relax, but my perfectionist mind would scream, “Why can’t you play this piece by now?” Truth is, I’d walk my dog, but wandering park trails leaves me alone with thousands of thoughts shooting through my head, stressing me with reminders of unmet deadlines.
However, on Facebook I escape life in a way that’s so shallow I slip into a near hallucinogenic state. My hyperactive brain relaxes in this imaginary world, where there are no worries, no deadlines, no expectations; just a lot of cat videos.
Being insightful means scaring myself constantly with all the fears my brain churns up as it searches for the deeper meaning of the scenes around me. Being smart means treating life like a creative writing draft that needs to be elaborated, revised, evaluated, and picked apart until it is perfect; however, once connected to Facebook, my brain finally forgets about elaborated thoughtshots and meaningful “so what’s?” and instead completely accepts boring, generic narration.
But right now, my mind isn’t analyzing my inner turmoil or justifying my secret addiction to Facebook. At 12:39 a.m., my world simply consists of a dark room and a laptop. My fingers rhythmically slide down my mousepad, while my writer’s notebook shines its untouched page into my bedroom’s cold night air.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.
This piece won the November 2015 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.