Woke up early today to get caught up on writing and emails and editing and all the things I’ve been dreaming about doing since last weekend ended and I find myself hitting a familiar point of distress: all the things that seemed to manageable in the abstract feel daunting when time finally allows me to do them.
I find myself gravitating to my usual distractions: scrolling through Facebook, simultaneously Googling/researching several other things that I’ve been thinking I should look at/work on/get around to doing until I begin to feel so paralyzed by on the things that I have yet to do/have yet to accomplish, not just today, but in life. This suddenly turns into clicking through one of those slideshows that catalogs the transformation of celebrity child stars after they’ve grown up followed by amazing “then” and “now” weight loss successes. If by this point I’m feeling particularly self-destructive, I might begin to look up creative rivals or enemies who seem like they have shit “figured out,” who somehow seem blessed with the ability to stay on task, disciplined enough to diligently produce successful results.
Usually by this point, I’m left with a half-finished blog draft and a very strong desire for a nap.
I’ve come to realize that one of the main reasons this seems to happen is because when I am feeling this way, I’m hesitant to address it publicly. Instead of writing a blog about the paralyzing fear that comes from staying on top of my shit, I try to keep pushing forward with some milquetoast topic that seems less raw to save myself from “putting it all out there,” even though the “put it all out there” posts tend to be the better ones, the ones that people respond to more earnestly. I’ve realized these posts resonate more and people react to them more favorably because they are more interesting, that they are more interesting because they are more honest, because honesty in that way is hard to come by.
I’m not trying to make some sort of Holden Caulfield assessment of the world that we’re all deliberately phonies, but I am noticing how in this age of constant connection, with the ability to express ourselves more deeply and consistently than we’ve ever been able to before, there’s a lot of debate on precisely how we should be expressing ourselves and what is permissible to talk about and what isn’t. We lament that social media postings are not “real life,” that people paint this artificial portrayal of some perfect existence, free of any self-doubt, pain, and worry, which is not only disingenuous, but also somehow offensive/dangerous since it makes other people feel inadequate about their own lives. But if people do express any sort of sentiment beyond that–if they air their grievances, offer opinions, lament about personal issues, they are “airing their dirty laundry.”
Posts about what you ate, what you did during your day are boring and mindless; posts regarding social, political, or social standpoints are too controversial. “This doesn’t belong on the Internet!” “This shouldn’t be shared publicly!” “Just wait and see what employers think when they read this… you’ll ruin your career” “Sharing your viewpoints is self-centered!” “It’s inappropriate!” “It’s absolutely what’s wrong with society!”
And so here we are, living in one of the greatest ages of connection and communication, too fucking terrified to speak.
This is why I’m actively taking a step back from posting on social media and trying to force myself to post more frequently, and what’s more, more honestly, on my blog. I wouldn’t call this a New Year’s resolution as much as a “new life” one. Hopefully it’ll help me gain a little more perspective, challenge me to become a better writer, and force me to live a little more authentically, online and off.
If nothing else, at least it’ll help me clear out the backlog of half-written blog drafts.