“Why do you have two Instagram accounts?” asked yet another friend, catching me, yet again, off-guard. Mumbling something about having one account since before the days Instagram became such a thing, and creating the new one just to improve my ‘career’ social media profile and to match my Twitter handle, I’m eye rolling myself at how improbably convoluted my explanation must sound. But it’s also true. As our constantly updating 360-degree jobs and workplaces mandate it, some of us are just getting our act together in projecting a brave new self on social media. We’ve heard the case for it, from “social media is the future” to “being your own brand”. At the time, the latter took some time for my caffeine-deprived brain to process. The Nike swoosh or KFC’s genial colonel is branding, not my mug with dark circles and all, or my predictable Insta feed of Dubai skyline pictures, I recalled thinking. Social media is bone of inner contention with me, ’nuff said. You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it, what to do man? While writing this, I’m also scrolling my Instagram and Facebook page multiple times, willingly seeking distraction that only the online kind can spoon-feed, watching various spoof versions of the BBC Interview Dad video and YouTube tutorials on how to do a messy bun with my hair (#fail: it turned out more messy and less bun). Got me thinking, forget social media, what did we even do before the Internet came along? Yes yes, you could say go out, have “real conversations with real people”, read a book, soak in the nature, travel, or cook. But hey, we’re doing all that and finding time to update the socials and squint at a million snazzily filtered food pictures now. If anything, I bet we’re packing in way more into our 24 hours in the twenty-tens than back in the noughties and nineties, even if most of it is online. Coming back to my friend, I could’ve told him that I used my old Insta account to stalk people and the new one to project living the “happening Dubai life”. it wouldn’t really be far from the truth. But it was wiser to spare him the horror and spare myself his horrified rant about how I’m better than that and should be using my time productively. In case that conversation had happened, my defence was readymade. It went something like: consider this, you see way more interesting, creative recipes on social media (forget that you’ll actually attempt like one a year). We can research on our next destination by checking out all those hip travel bloggers swarming over Instagram (just how do they have all that spare time and money?). And we can keep track of what our friends are doing with their lives (no, no! No one has the time to “pick up the phone and call them” every day and Whatsapping pictures of your last shawarma or salad to everyone on your contacts list is just OOTQ). But then the memory of another encounter – with a real person – got me refraining from click baiting for an argument. This incredibly smart, worldly and sorted 19-year-old I’d met asked for my Instagram. Half-pondering why wasn’t I half as savvy at 19, I watched her access it and raise an eyebrow at my fairly decent number of followers. Those few seconds of incredulous, pursed-lip silence from her said it all – I’m only cool on the internet.