Sometimes I get glimpses of myself from the outside looking in. I see this guy scrolling through social media… choosing my friends wisely… making sure my newsfeed is curated and tailored to my liking… and assuming others on my friends list are doing the same. I catch myself, exasperated… making my endless points on the topics that interest me… getting all those addictive “likes”… and the occasional argument, which allows me to insult the fucking bastard… block him…or her… and keep on scrolling. And you know, it never ends… this is a laundromat. Soil the clothes… dump them into the machine… add soap… start again… repeat. After a while.. all you really have are the people that endlessly agree with you… and then you wake up to find yourself either running out of words… or out of ambition to share them… because you know the result… 37 people “liking” it… 1 asshole who hates you and hopes you die in a bizarre encounter with an angry armadillo or something…. so you get your daily affirmations and strokes… your “outrage” at the one slug that disagrees… and on and on and on.
And suddenly… one day… you scroll… and you see the reality that you’ve created for yourself reflected in an algorithm that is carefully choosing your life experiences online. And you find yourself, again… like countless times before… utterly fried. You find yourself not giving a fuck if Trump blows up Cleveland… or if someone else’s cat is the most awesome creature on Earth… or if religion is turning a nation of fools into a nation of radicals… or some such bullshit.
At the end of the day… we all sleep alone. We are left with our own realities that seldom represent what is really going on. And we forget EXPERIENCES as quickly as we comment on what’s trending. What you see before you, every day… is a man-made illusion. Don’t looked so shocked… you’re the one who created it. We all feed the algorithm with an altered sense of who we are. I’m not the dick I am online. She’s not the slut everyone says she is… the shows we put on, even unintentionally… for others… sends false messages that make social media… a fictional habitat that is worth turning off.
A week ago… I went outside… and there was a porta-potty sitting in my driveway… construction workers and road crews placed it there. A neighbor says “it’s been there for 6 days!”. Wow. That long, huh? So for six days… people have been depositing their shit in my driveway… and I had no clue… that 3 feet from the wall of my kitchen… while I was gleefully eating pasta… someone was taking a ritualistic dump before they installed new sewer lines on the property. I keep thinking…. this is a good comparison. Some of us just wake up… grab a phone or a laptop… and ritualistically leave our shit on our friends doorstep. “I’m eating pasta for breakfast!”. “My cat is adorable”. “Trump is Satan”. “Obama fucked up our nation”. “God is dead”. “Here’s a meme with a picture of a porta-potty”.
I would love to tell you I am done with social media; but if I did, I would be a goddamned liar. I used to smoke for over 35 years… I drank like crazy for a period of 4 years before I realized it was time to stop… so… I know a calculated addiction when someone tosses it at me.
But sometimes.. the words… and the ambition to say them… just run out. The pettiness… the squabbles… the mundane small talk… the opportunity for massive sarcasm… that I love so much to exploit… the mindless memes… just because we CAN share something… does not necessarily mean we SHOULD share that thing. And so I retreat once again… but this time… maybe I should come back when I’m ready… and friend a Republican… or a Trump supporter… or a rapper from Buffalo… or someone I normally would either not friend… or insult and ceremoniously block. Maybe, instead… I should stop curating my world… my reality online… to the point where all I have left are people who agree with me… and “like” my posts constantly. Maybe the ego strokes that make social media so worth it to us… are the very things that eventually erode our souls? Maybe I really should post more pictures of sunrises and less memes about the injustices and inhumanity of this lousy, fucked up world we live in. Maybe it’s time to create a new reality. And when those “idiots” post pro-Trumpian bullshit … maybe I should just shut up… and learn about the realities that they have created for themselves on their journey… that makes them think the way they do. Of course I’ll never agree with their views. But I might understand why their lives have taken the twists and turns they have… and have caused them to alter their own realities to suit their own visions… or their fears.
Holy shit, gang. You do realize that we’re actually talking about a learning experience, don’t you? Finding empathy for those you would easily condemn… maybe those are the exchanges worth posting about?