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Updated: Jul 2, 2020
It’s hard init, being a person today. Especially when you look at how much better it is to be another person.
Have a look at another person’s Facebook timeline? I double-donkey dare you. Chances are you’ll see something that ruins your day if not your entire existence. It doesn’t even have to be anything that good. I’ve seen people click “going” to spoken word events before and have consequently thought about ending it all.
Because imagine how good my life would be if I went to a spoken word night? It would be so sick. I’d probably finally be content with myself. But as things stand, I’m not going to spoken word nights.
Greg’s going to spoken word events though isn’t he. I haven’t seen him since year 9 History when he used to cry because he was shocked at how beastly mankind was during WWII, but Facebook tells me he’s happy now. And he has a girlfriend. I bet he takes his girlfriend to these spoken word events too and I bet they kiss on the face. I bet the 153 reactions they got when they announced their relationship has made them happy forever, any brief moment of sadness or anxiety is forgotten about when they remember those sweet sweet heart reactions.
And some people are doing much more than going to spoken word events. Much much more. Some people are getting tagged in the comments of meme posts. I wanna be like those people. I wanna be on the receiving end of an “Eric this is so you” comment for once. But I never am. Because there’s something wrong with me.
That’s how it feels, anyway. When you look at social media for more than 0 seconds you can’t help but feel inadequate. Other people are achieving their dreams, finding love, buying houses, getting tagged in LAD Bible posts. All sorts. It’s mad. What are you doing? Probably nothing. You’ve probably gone home to your mum’s for the weekend because you can’t bear the incredible sense of isolation you feel. You’ve probably spent Saturday half-asleep on the sofa watching Soccer Saturday. You’re probably trying to make up for it now by writing a blog with a take so lukewarm you could havea bath in it. But you won’t because unconsciously you use your poor personal hygiene to signal how to the world how terrible you feel, because then someone might come to your rescue with both a metaphorical and literal sponge, scrubbing you of your wretchedness and your surprisingly numerous ketchup patches.
Right, that got a bit too self-indulgent.
Anyway, I know it’s not a new idea that looking at Facebook all the time might be bad for us. But the thing I’ve noticed – and this might shift my take from lukewarm to simmering – is that it doesn’t actually matter if the people you’re comparing yourself to are doing well. Some people do just portray a perfect life on Facebook, but also some people are quite open and will share with everyone how sad they are. And when I read that, instead of feeling compassion, I get sad that I’m not as sad as them. You can’t win. It’s like the game charades – everybody loses just by taking part. Well I’m getting sick of the whole charade.
If you’re around my age then you’ve had to deal with this constant comparing yourself to others for your whole adult life. And if you’re not around my age, then you’re an old creepy weirdo. Again, no winners. But at least the disgusting old people reading this post were free to develop into the people they are without the constant knowledge of how hundreds of their friends’ lives were progressing as well. They could achieve their goals without having to worry about how many likes they’d get if they posted about them outside of peak time. Sure, there was still a bit of comparing back in the day, but it wasn’t on the same scale. They’d maybe hear from their mother that Mathew from down the road had just got a promotion at the paper mill, but it was easier to shrug off. They just got back on their Penny Farthings and cracked on with life.
I want to break free from it all, but I’m one of the worst culprits. Because everyone on Facebook knows about my dream, they’re bombarded with pictures and posts of my pursuit of it. As most of you know, ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to become the lead singer of the American pop-rock band Hanson. I have a recurring fantasy that one day I’ll lead the lads out to a packed Madison Square Garden, face thousands of screaming fans, say, “How you guys doing tonight? I think y’all might know this next one,” before launching straight into their classic pop hit “MMMBop”. And as hard as I try I can’t seem to stop telling people about my efforts to make that happen.
What I want to be able to tell you is that with enough effort we can revolt against this way of life that’s enslaved us. I want to tell you that one day we’ll be free, our lives will be more than just the dopamine release we get from the social media likes receive. But I can’t say that for certain and I am very pessimistic at the moment. The forces we are up against are multibillion pound corporations and nerds in t-shirts. The algorithms these nerds create have us in chains. And when you’re in chains and your masters are too powerful, sometimes the best thing to do is to submit. If you try to wriggle free, the chains will become tighter. The algorithms will find new ways to keep us trapped.
So in conclusion, it’s too late to do anything now. We’re all fucked.
Anyway, if you want to hear more about my thoughts on this, plus a slam poem about how we should be building bridges instead of walls, then come to my new spoken word night starting next month at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.
Remember to click going on the event!
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