The following was written at the beginning of December 2016 but was never posted. After starting this post I went through a complete… what do I want to call it… crisis state, where I began to re-evaluate my whole life. I want to post this because it was the spark that has started a revolution in my life (which I plan to write more on this week). I went back and forth deactivating and reactivating my social media, half committing to the ideas stated here until the first week in January when, I took what some people would deem a pretty radical step and I permanently deleted all my social media accounts, again more on this and some other major life changes later.
I am at a crossroads in my life, and I think I have been for a long time. I have been chasing something that not only doesn’t serve me, but it is something that I am not starting to see is destructive. I am talking about the internet, or more specifically social media and everything it has become in my life. I realise that most of us have our escapism in life, our things that we reactively jump to in order to avoid difficult feelings, like being alone, seeking acceptance, and avoiding boredom. I can only speak for myself here, but I have had enough of this fake bullshitty ‘reality’ that consumes all the different parts of my life. I am tired of wasting hours mindlessly scrolling through staged photos of others that subconsciously make me feel like I am not doing enough, I don’t have enough, and worst of all, that I am not enough. Mindlessly consuming and passively living. Calculating every moment for an Instagram photo or a facebook post and not actually enjoying those moments. These moments slip away so quickly and I look back and think, shit, I barely even lived that experience. Somedays I feel like a zombie walking in a fog from my day to day existence, a slave to technology and other people. I think that is probably the worst part. In mindlessly participating in this crap every day I give up my freedom and my power. I consume what others want me to consume, I let them dictate my feelings and moods, let them tell me what I should want, what I should value, and I have had it. I want my control back, but more importantly, I want my freedom back. I don’t want to be dictated to any longer.
I know I have expressed some of this before but now I have just really realised how much it impacts my well-being and my ability to be happy. So here is what I am doing about it.
Goodbye, social media.
I made excuses for a long time about deleting social media, claiming it was how I kept in contact with family and friends being so far away and that is just bullshit. What it did was allow me to stop putting effort into my relationships by giving me a false sense of connection. When a friend posts a picture of her children its like I am there seeing them grow up when my parents post pictures of our cats or a theatre event they went to its like I was right there with them, being a part of their life. But I am not. Instead, I felt as though I have been excused from my responsibility of reaching out, or actually connecting and putting in the effort and letting those people in my life know I care about them. Instead, I put in zero effort and get to reap the same rewards… except eventually, you find out they are empty. That these connections you think you have don’t actually exist. The people you love don’t feel cared for by you and so they stop investing in you. All those hours spent getting a false sense of connection are wasted and you are left with nothing but meaninglessness and emptiness. That time is something you can never get back. It’s gone, forever.
Consume Less. Consume Mindfully.
Consuming less doesn’t just mean material items, although I will get to that. I am primarily referring to mental consumption. Every day we are flooded with so much senseless information, especially with regards to what is considered ‘news’ and we have to wonder how much of itself is actually useful or healthy for us to devote so much mental and emotional energy to it, as well as time. Now I am not saying I intend to stop being informed, I am just saying I plan to be more selective in the news I chose to consume. Picking 2-3 news outlets I trust, who tend to post thoughtful and intellectually driven pieces and spend only a short amount of time each day focused on this. I think this has become increasingly important following the US election where my news feeds have been constantly flooded by drama pieces about Trump that do nothing more than creating a sensationalist buzz that puts money into the pockets of the news outlets and makes us all feel horrible. I would rather read something that offers suggestions, has a thoughtful point, and wasn’t just produced in the heat of the momentary Trump drama to get me to read it so they get money.
Consuming mindfully also means eating. Devoting the time and energy to making healthy, simple meals with wholesome ingredients instead of relying mainly on sugars and fats or whatever catches my fancy in that moment. Eating well is always been a bugbear for me. I have been lucky enough to have a high metabolism and have not really had to watch what I eat in the same ways other people might have too. As a result, however, my diet can best be described as an unchaperoned child at a birthday party (saw that analogy on a meme, thought it was fitting). I eat without awareness of what I am actually putting into my body. And if I don’t care about my body no one else will. But not only that, if I am willing to trash my own body, why would I be caring and thoughtful about how I treat anything else in this world. I think it is probably basic self-love and it is something I need to work on. Mindlessly consuming food the way I do at the moment is in some ways an avoidance mechanism or an addictive-like behaviour. I eat sweets or unhealthy foods as momentary relief of boredom or as a way to avoid really being present with my emotions. It gives me a fake boost of happiness when I am feeling overworked or frustrated. So yes, I am going to address this.
Consuming less also refers to this list of needs that runs through my head. You know all those things you really want to buy, that you put on a mental shopping list that you think will help make your life better. Damn, I really want that tent, if I get that tent THEN I can go outside like a real badass and be happy in the wilderness. If only I had X then I could be happy/fulfilled/cool whatever. Rarely do I appreciate all the stuff I do have. Not only that but things are burdensome. We have to leave mental space for worrying about all our stuff in life. And for what ends? My great aunt passed away this year and she had a house full of things she loves, mementoes, knickknacks, and now that she is gone her family is selling all that stuff that she loved so much, spent years collecting and laying out. How sad. The sum of one’s existence sold away. So why place too much value on things. They are temporary like us. They are meaningless, and yet we spend hours of our lives working for little pay to buy things we do not need. Think about it this way, from where I sit right now I see this hair curling set I bought and didn’t need and do not use. It cost me $80. In my last job, $80 was 24 hours of my life. That curing set cost me 24 hours to buy. What the actual fuck. Why do we do this to ourselves? Now I am not saying don’t buy the things you need, I am saying be mindful about it. If it is really important to have, wait a few days before buying it to see if you really want it. Access where the motivation to have it is coming from… Are you buying it because it will make you cooler? Is it a status thing? Those are probably shit motivations. These are the questions I am going to be asking myself more often.