One Character to Spare

photo by Joey Marion

photo by Joey Marion


I guess we millennials are lucky. We pretty much came out of the womb with iPhones. Netflix and Facebook accounts set up around us like cribs. The great fortune of being born into the Information Age is that we bypassed many of the technological frustrations of older generations. The downside is we’ve been dubbed personal tech support for our parents and grandparents. Although this provides some entertaining anecdotes, it can also be a time suck. Remember those four hours you spent with your supposedly fully functioning mom explaining how to send one email? You’ll never get those back.

In this age when likes and follows are their own currency, it is no surprise that I stumbled across an article titled “The Key 7 Ingredients to a Powerful Twitter Bio.” Despite being #twitterless, I was intrigued by its promise of the secrets to a successful description and dove in. How could I resist learning how to tell the world that I love pesto, goats, and sleeping in a witty and endearing package of 160 characters?

Reading up on how to brand myself with an amusing sentence and carefully selected profile picture, I grew dismayed that our generation is held up to such superficial standards. We are judged not just by Twitter bios, but all forms of social identification. The internet may offer tips and tricks that make our lives easier than our parents’, but it also instills an unrelenting pressure to present a curated version of ourselves online and in person.

Everyone is not only evaluated based on silly profiles every day. They are shaped by them.

Remember how uncomfortable and tragic your first impressions were at your college orientation, first party, and every interview? Imagine having to make hundreds of those impressions every day. Oh, you just puked in your mouth a little bit? Me, too.

Everyone is not only evaluated based on silly profiles every day. They are shaped by them. We create different personas for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest. Nicknames are often coined from peoples’ social habits, posting frequencies, filter choice, hashtag use, and emojis. It’s as if we speak another language on these sites, one that prizes slang and sexual innuendos.

These trends and behaviors are alarming, but the solution may be less daunting than we think. It may be as simple as taking ourselves less seriously.

Since avoiding social media is becoming less and less realistic, I think we should make a game of it, seizing the opportunity to craft a persona. One that is incomplete but still valuable.

This is one way to begin: If you only had 160 characters to introduce yourself at the next college reunion or interview, what would you say? I imagine my bio as something brief and somewhat arbitrary like:

Designer. Sleeper. Culinary Enthusiast. I’m 20 years old, fascinated by goats, and I am more than these 160 characters (insert emoji here) #onecharactertospare

EssayOlivia Crane