In 1987, a revolutionary creation was birthed into the wondrous, World Wide Web. At the time, employees at Microsoft had no idea how life-changing this tool would be, but, 23 years later, 5th grader Jolaya Gillams did.
In 2010, she would become a master Powerpoint presenter—a title she did not take lightly—, and by unlocking all facets that Powerpoint had to offer, she was able to utilize the art-form to its fullest potential. It was there, in front of her passed down computer where the young rhetor had found her purpose. It was there, where she stood in front of her parents, in what seemed like the most nerve-racking five minutes of her long eleven-year-life, mastering the tools of persuasion, and it was there, eyes illuminated, hopes high, and soul convinced that her parents would cave, and get her the one thing that she had been begging for: an Instagram account.
And it was there, after she finished presenting, Instagram: a Phenomena, where she believed that she, Jolaya Gillams, had surpassed a new level of genius. Though Powerpoint had taken her through Life Science and Pre-Algebra, she knew that this presentation would go down in history.
To her dismay, her parents were both children of the “just go play outside” era and staunchly held onto their beliefs that fifth graders were children. Unfortunately for her, that meant they believed that she should be—in the simplest terms—playing outside.
In 2016 (six years, one presentation, and an “Instagram Contract” later), Jolaya became the rightful owner of her very own Instagram account. It was there where she decided that, like Powerpoint, she would master Instagram too. In the race to build an Instagram following, Jolaya realized that she was behind most of her friends. Unlike her, they had aesthetically pleasing feeds littered with açai bowls, swimsuit pics, and beach sunsets, which emulated the zeitgeist of the mid-2000s.
In 2017, she’d spend endless hours watching hundreds of YouTube videos on how to maintain the best feed. Day by day, she grew fascinated by the saturated hues of the popular VSCO Cam filter, C1, that many of her friends used. But one thing remained true: the saturation of C1 paralleled the facade of the Orange County lifestyle she knew so well.
In 2017, she unintentionally began to live her life how Instagram wanted her to live. She was a master of deceit, molding her feed based on how she wanted others to perceive her. Cute but not cocky. Friendly but not a freak. Trendy but not a “try hard.” She started wearing vibrant outfits when she hung out with friends to match her Instagram aesthetic. She posted cute pictures with the latest Gucci belt and scheduled coffee dates with people posting hours later about the kindness of their hearts, but in reality, she was using her Chai Tea Latte Scheme to acquire post-worthy content.
In 2017, FaceTune became normalized; girls’ eyes got bigger, their noses slimmer, teeth whiter, and waist curvier. While understanding the magnitude of posting a well-edited picture, her soul was strained by the societal facade that edited her view of herself.
When 180 people were asked in a poll if “they had ever felt pressured to have an Instagram feed,” 61% percent of teenagers voted yes. When those same 180 teenagers were asked if Instagram makes them feel badly about themselves, 86% answered yes.
October 25th, 2018:
Jolaya’s carbon footprint was cut short. Now a victim of The C1 Effect, her Instagram became her shrine.
She will be remembered as a warning to her peers.
Her legacy simplified to a series of “R.I.P Jolaya. 😔, 😔 ,😭 . . . crying face, heart, heart, and 🙏” emojis.
And it was there that the Powerpoint master decided that she would set herself free. It is reported that Jolaya Gillams was planning on presenting: I Should Have Stayed & Played Outside, which, she knew, would be her second presentation to go down in history.
Photo Credits: Jolaya Gillams