Social Life

📅 Published on September 29, 2021

“Social Life”

Written by Matt Dymerski
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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I am the one that the world left behind—at least until you finish reading this.

It wasn’t that I was unremarkable.  Everyone has something about them that is uniquely their own.  It just so happened that my thing was floating through foster families, schools, and social situations without leaving a single mark.  I was just slightly too shy to make lasting friends and just slightly too outgoing to fit in with other loners.  Consequently, I ended up living with more solitude than any of them.

But it was alright.  Through high school and college, it was fine.  I told myself that it was all good.  Every dog has his day eventually, and I was just a member of those silenced masses that TV shows and movies ignore.  When the football players and cheerleaders and student council representatives all graduated into the real world, they’d be on the same ennui-filled playing field, and then I’d rise up and—

I don’t know what I expected, but it didn’t happen.  Instead, social media happened.

It started innocently, with MySpace in high school.  Facebook followed during college, and then even more sites joined in.  As the years passed, they taunted me with a growing sea of shame.  Everyone else was happy, smiling, partying, drinking, dancing, going on vacations, and having the times of their lives.  What was I doing?  Nothing worth noting.  I had a Facebook account, and it had so-called friends I’d collected over the years with increasing desperation, but I couldn’t bring myself to post anything real or substantial.  My few attempts garnered no views and no likes.

The night of my college graduation party—which nobody had attended, despite the hundreds of invites I’d sent and the dozens that had clicked yes, attending—I felt something dark bubbling beneath my heart.  It was a simmering boil of pitch bitterness that had been pooling there my entire life, and, too pained to let things continue the way they’d been going, I shattered a sacred tenet.

I lied.

Heading out onto the streets, I found a random college party, moved into the center of the crowd, and shouted “Go team!”  before snapping a picture of myself surrounded by countless drunk people who had automatically sent up a whoop and a toast for the team.

I ran home, and, hands shaking, I posted the picture on my Facebook with the words, “Graduation party’s crazy!”

Called out.  I’d get called out.  I knew it.  Someone would recognize those partiers or the house, or—or—they might just not believe I could actually have friends.  I drank the entire bottle of liquor I’d bought for my pitiful unattended party.  The world had ignored me this long, but being called out and humiliated would be far worse.  I would have given anything to take it all back.

Turning my face up out of a pool of my own vomit, I awoke to a groggy hangover, a painfully bright beam of sunlight, and over a thousand likes.

Who knew you were such a party animal?!

Congrats on graduating!

Woo, we’re all adults now!

When’s your next one?  Couldn’t make it but I’ll be there next time!

My God.  Not only had they not called me out, they’d leaped at the opportunity to—what?  What was this?  They didn’t want real.  They didn’t want substantial.  They wanted to consume positivity and be made happier for it.  In that respect, I couldn’t judge because we were a dichotomy.  They wanted exciting time-of-my-life posts, and I wanted their reactions.  I’d always wanted to be noticed, and now I could be.

Alone, I drove six hours to the beach and set up a bunch of pictures of myself supposedly on vacation in South America.  I even asked a random girl to take a picture with me, and, lo and behold, she did it without thinking and with the same fake sudden-smile that everyone seemed to don when a camera came out.

Who’s that?  You dog!

South America looks so beautiful this time of year!

Is that your girlfriend?  Jealous!!  Xoxo

Amazing.  The ease of all this was almost ridiculous.  Nobody wanted to see through the façade.  Nobody wanted to call me out.  This was a space of desperate positivity.  That post actually resulted in my first real date in years, along with people starting to recognize me and compliment me on my supposed tan.

I grew addicted.  I won’t lie about that; not here and now in my confession.  It was all glamorous parties, best nights of my life, and beautiful dates from then on, each staged with increasing audacity.  The craziest part about it all was that my fantastic online life began dragging my real one up from the depths.  People high-fived me on the street, girls asked me out to drinks, and an old teacher offered me a high-paying job after seeing how well I was doing.

He told me straight to my face that he’d thought I wouldn’t amount to anything and that I’d surprised him.  It was a punch in the gut, but I smiled, shook his hand, took the job, and used it as more fuel for my glowing online life.

Of course, none of this really made a difference in the private hours of each day.  When I had to return home to my small apartment and sit by myself watching Netflix, there was nothing to do but stew in the brutal tar that my fake life had made all the more painful.  I wished that these times could just go away somehow; these same spaces were invisible in everyone else’s lives, for they never shared these parts online, and I wondered if they all had to endure the same isolation and pain.

Since that first night when I’d discovered this magic, the liquor had not decreased in frequency.  Sitting alone and drinking, I regarded a message I’d gotten on Facebook from a girl I’d actually liked: sorry, I had fun on our date, but I just don’t think I can keep up with you!  You’re so social and outgoing, and I’m a homebody that mostly sits at home watching movies.  Hope you understand.

The laughter wouldn’t stop.  It grew in my chest until I couldn’t breathe, until I couldn’t take it, until it became humored screaming powered by the blackest irony.  There was no way to reconcile the powerful allure of my online life with the basic realities of my actual existence.  I couldn’t admit what I’d done, and I certainly couldn’t stop.

So I drank.

And I drank some more.

Then I took some pills for my drinking headache.

Then I had a coffee, drank some more, and took some pills to help me sleep.

Feeling worse than I’d ever felt in my life, I took more painkillers.

And then I took some more, just in case the headache came back.

That’s how it happens sometimes.  It’s not always about killing yourself.  Sometimes, people are just lost and wallowing in consuming tar, sinking only to be caught inescapably, suffocating on their own pain.

Turning my face up out of a pool of my own vomit, I awoke to a groggy hangover, a painfully bright beam of sunlight, and over a thousand likes.

Somewhere in my haze of liquor and pills, I’d posted about partying like there was no tomorrow, and the voyeurs out there had eaten it up.  I’d even taken pictures of pills and told them it was ecstasy—and nobody had called me out even though they were clearly brand-marked painkillers!  They didn’t want to see the truth!  The power of their denial was amazing.

So amazing, in fact, that none of them wanted to believe I’d died the night before.  Despite the clear story played out in my posts full of lies, they wanted to believe I’d partied hard and had another best night of my life.  As always, the consequences in the private hours of my life were mine alone to suffer.

The first thing I noticed, about an hour after waking up, was that I had no heartbeat.

I stood in front of the mirror without a shirt on and examined myself.  There were no wounds, no bleeding, and no injuries.  I’d overdosed, and it had left me looking normal.  Surely, this was all some sort of delusion.  I must have still been high on painkillers—despite everything feeling normal, albeit a little cold, I chose to believe that I was still alive.  My breath put no fog on the mirror, I couldn’t feel my pulse, and a thermometer gave my body temperature as startlingly low, but I refused to believe the obvious.

In fact, I went to the store and bought groceries.  The clerk took my money and packed the bags, and said good day.  I smiled at a random person on the street, and she smiled and nodded back.

I was alive.  I had to be.

It began getting harder to move, and I retreated to my apartment and pulled up my shirt in the privacy of my bathroom to find my skin turning purplish-grey.  Frantically Googling, I discovered that my cells were breaking down and my blood vessels were rupturing.  What could I do?

I had only one thought—return to my addiction.  Quickly taking photos before the discoloration reached my face, I grabbed as many angles and smiles as I could.  Who knew if I would ever be able to take more?  Hoping against all sanity, I threw stuff all over my apartment and then posed in front of it, posting crazy party last night; at least I’m feeling great today!

As the views and likes began rolling in, I started feeling a little better, and my mobility increased.  I’d been right: the same force of collective human denial that had kept me alive in my dead body could also sustain me.

I couldn’t leave the house for long.  I had just enough time to go to work each day before making a new post; suddenly, I became the superstar of my own fake world.  The grander the post, the more the likes; the more the likes, the more the rot in my limbs seemed to stall—but it never, ever reversed.  Every time traffic delayed me, or I had to stay late at work, another small part of me blackened a tiny bit.  I managed to transition to working at home, and thankfully, for at that time I was wearing turtlenecks every day to cover open rotting sores on my neck.

Working at home—and the fact that I never had to eat or sleep—gave me time to stage an elaborate online life, which kept me stable for several months.  My face was getting purple at times, but I covered that with makeup.  Awkward.  I think that’s what gave me away, and one like myself finally contacted me.

Idiot, she wrote.  You’ll give us all away by posting like that.

She gave me an address, and I showed up at a small house in the middle of the backwoods country with no idea what to expect.  I only went because I’d become aware I was fighting a losing war to stay in existence.  I knocked, but nobody came to the door.  Eventually, I found that it was unlocked, and I pushed my way into a horrible brown miasma.  For the first time, I was thankful that my numb senses could hardly detect smells.  Deeper into the dark, I found her by the light of ten computer screens.

I didn’t actually think she was alive—or, rather, animate.  Most of her skeleton was exposed among rotting gobs of flesh that dripped putrid black ooze.  One hand manned her keyboard, and the other manned her mouse, a decade-old corpse that had become melded to her chair.

Her skull still held hair on the side closer to me, but she turned to look at me, showing white bone that had been hidden by my perspective.  Her face was surprisingly intact, kept together by careful maintenance, and her eyes were the only thing about her still fully alive.  “Idiot,”  she rasped quietly.  “You have to be smarter about this.”

“How long have you been doing this?”  I asked, mortified.

“A lot longer than you.”  She turned back and clicked on one of her screens.  “You gotta have more than one profile if you ever want to make headway.”

I stepped a little closer.  “What do you mean?”

“I was just a skeleton and some muscle tissue two years ago,”  she said, her voice a soft lilting whisper pushed out by a single moldy lung that I could see contracting.  “Until someone hacked my account and pretended to be me.  I’d died out here alone—”

“—and since nobody knew you were dead—”  I realized aloud.

“Exactly.  I came back.”

If my heart had been able to beat, I might have felt a dozen things at that moment.  First, though, I asked, “How many of us are there?”

She grinned with half-missing lips.  “More than you know, I bet, but we get to live only as long as no living person knows about it, so they’re very, very good at lying.”  She let her single lung relax for a moment before continuing.  “Work from home or scam on the internet for a living.  No bills other than electricity, since we don’t eat or need water or heat.”

“It’s kinda great, isn’t it?”  I said quickly, excited to finally talk to someone else in a genuine way in months.  I’d once wished my real life could rot off and fall away, and it actually had, only to leave me with remorse at what a fool I’d been.

She smiled again.

I moved my computer there three days later and soon bought more to scale up our operations.  For the first time in my life, my private hours were actually spent with someone else, and I found the black tar around my heart receding.  She began looking and sounding more human with each passing week as her flesh regenerated bit by bit after every post.

But of course, I’m still the one the world left behind.  It wasn’t exactly a fairy tale, but it was my happily ever after—emphasis on after—and I lost the will to go on after it happened.

A breeze blew open a curtain, and a man who had gotten lost after his truck had broken down on the forest road saw her through the window.  She was still rotted all over, and he knew instantly.  That was it: she fell to the ground, gone.  Only her purple and black bloated corpse remained.

I cleared everything out after the passerby ran away, and I found a new place to hole up, but it’s just not the same.  I’m not even sure people like me can ever truly come back to life, or if the best we can do is cling to a false existence in the mental sphere of humanity, but I just can’t go back to being alone.  I guess that’s what this confession is about—I might be dead, but I still know when I’ve crossed the line into disgusting insanity.  Thing is, I don’t care.  I’m not even going to tell you who I am in particular, so I’ll get to keep living my false life.  I’ll still be out there posting, along with countless others of my kind, and you’ll keep liking and commenting on the supposed best nights of our lives.

I’m happy with this, no matter how disgusting it might be, because I’m no longer alone.  She might just be a bloated corpse, but I’ve got a girlfriend now.  She’s the one you can see smiling and partying in all my pictures.  You wouldn’t believe what can be done with Photoshop these days.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Matt Dymerski
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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