I have to confess that I haven’t been myself at all lately. Or, in truth, maybe I’ve been more me than I have been in quite some time. I’ve fallen away from a lot of social norms, or things that have strangely become social norms. Like updating the universe on my whereabouts and daily happenings. It use to seem like something essential, somehow. Like waking up and going to sleep or pausing to make myself something to eat. Each time, I’d pick up my phone and take a look through the open window of the world.
What’s everyone doing out there? Sharing their feelings? Their lives? But they aren’t, not really. A few are honest, mostly. But most are not honest at all. They share the sugar, but not the spice. They live their social media lives feasting on whipped cream and perfection. No one ever talks about the meat. Or potatoes, for my vegan friends.
But when they are honest, it’s too much. We get run down. We can’t consume all the angst and the anger. The misery. The sadness. The drama is too much because we have enough we’re trying to stifle in ourselves. They’re soiling our dreamy fantasy world with all of their yucky life stuff.
No one is inherently happy, and yet we act like we’re the happiest people in the universe.
News flash, friends, we can’t all be the best at anything.
There are little blips of joy. There is the pursuit of happiness, which is where most of us reside when we say we’re happy. Or maybe, we had a great day. A great experience. That’s a brief moment of pleasure, but it isn’t our entire life.
And the problem with spreading our falsely joyous selves thin all over the interwebs is that once we put it out there, we have to live up to those expectations.
And the sneaky little secret is that the fall is so much harder when we can’t match up. We can’t be perfect. We can’t be everything. We can’t be everywhere all the time. There is no comparison between us and them, and frankly, there is no us. There is no them. There is simply all of us trying to find our way in this insanely confusing maze of life without getting stepped on or spit on or left on the side of the information highway for dead.
Social media is this brilliantly overused tool that first connects us, nurtures us, holds us, and then breaks us. It’s a phenomenon we don’t realize. It’s one we don’t understand because we are addicted to the knowing. At the click of a button we can know anything we want to know. Where someone was today. What they ate. What they said. We can look at someone’s struggles and think, “Oh, well, at least we’re doing better than they are.”
Tell me you don’t have thoughts like that scamper through your brain.
The worst part of it all is our need to compare. We are incapable of being simply happy for someone. That emotion doesn’t exist, nor is it a state of mind. It is impossible for us to be overjoyed for the sake of someone else without an added hitch. There is always that secondary question. It isn’t always loud. Sometimes it’s so quiet we almost don’t hear it, but it’s there. Always, always there.
I’m so happy for them, but–
And this opens up a slew of tragedies inside of us that further our existential crises.
Why not me?
Why can’t I?
Why didn’t I?
Why don’t I?
Am I not good enough?
Am I not smart enough?
Am I too strange?
Not strange enough?
Did I waste my time?
Do I still have time?
And at the end of the endless downward spiral we find ourselves melted in a puddle of pity that can’t even collect itself enough to get dressed and brush its teeth let alone live up to the false expectations we’ve plastered for the world to see. And so we sink further.
We sink and we sink and we sink until loneliness is the only thing we know.
Loneliness, when we are surrounded by people who love us. And yet, we can’t even see it because we’re so consumed by everything we are not.
That is what happens. And yet, we keep coming back. Because this has become the new society. We can’t get out because this is the only place that anyone will talk to us. The only place where anyone talks at all.