She notes Erving Goffman's 1959 theory of identity, making what could read like a master's thesis into a gripping tale of how we became eternal performers - how we are similar in job interviews to how we constantly present what we think of as our best selves on the Net .
Offline, at least, there are "forms of relief," in which the audience turns over and the you at your job interview is different from the you who meets up with friends for a drink afterward and is different again when you go home to read yourself to sleep.
The Internet was one thing, Tolentino argues, but social media is a whole other level. People scroll through reams of content, viewing "all new information as a sort of direct commentary on who they are." Further, there's a constant pressure to expand one's audience, unlike in real life , when we don't seek more likes and more followers and more hearts. Friends don't go home from dinner parties on the Internet. "The online audience never has to leave."
And as Millennials lives have gotten busier and busier, there is less time to politically engage and, besides, the Internet provides a cheap substitute" for such actions. Having an opinion online is often seen as the end, rather than the beginning, of something. The Internet allows us to "seem" politically engaged.
This means that opinions have needed to get wilder and wilder. Gawker, Deadspin, and Jezebel were outlets designed to drive conflict. Upbeat ones like BuzzFeed, Grantland, and Upworthy failed to take,.
The Internet "brings the I into everything" because it can "make it seem that supporting someone means literally sharing in their experience."
Tolentino concludes that the Internet will collapse at some point, but that first we need to somehow start caring less about our online identities, to be "deeply skeptical of our own unbearable opinions," to "be careful in thinking about when our opposition serves us," and to not always put ourselves first.