Caribou

How are you? I’m doing OK. Just felt like writing and posting something. 

I’ve (mostly) stayed away from social media in the last 5 or 6 months. I’ve realized that my sense of self-worth isn’t entirely healthy, and it hasn’t ever really been. 

Social media (namely Twitter) has only nurtured and exploited this insecurity. 

Sometimes to a point of real self-hatred. Driven by self-comparisons to all those who are so good at holding our attention on that platform, as well as the nobodies who put on a good show.

There are reasons for this. 

Reasons I’m working to identify and do something about. They’re behaviors long ago learned and programmed.

It’s frustrating, but I know it’ll be worth it down the road. It’s my way out.  

But in the meantime, I’ve concentrated on building for myself a smaller world or universe. Something filled with tangible people and hobbies that are grounded and in debt to routines. 

I want a life that is my own to experience and not to broadcast. 

Even if it’s forgettable to most everyone else. So long as it’s real, in a space where I can exist. 

That alone can be unique. 

Because you’ll never know life as I know it. Even if it’s the same as yours, it’s still not mine.

Just as mine is not yours. Even if yours is fairly textbook.

See, I joined Twitter in 2009 when I was 17 years old. 

I used it to promote a podcast I had then recently started. 

This show (for a 17-year-old) possessed a noteworthy, engaged audience, and I felt like I had potential.

From 2009 until about April 2021, I looked at Twitter every single day of my life. That’s 12 years.

Most days, I’d sign on many times at all hours. Waiting for someone to notice me. 

Using it as an extension of myself. 

To somehow make notable my personal, intimate interest in writing or being creative. A specific way that I am in touch with who I am, or how I explore who I am and the world around me. 

I wanted that thing to be important to other people, too. 

Internet people. Avatars and fictions that I’ve never met and will never meet. The Cool Ones hyping other Cool Ones in a feedback loop, anticipating an invitation to play in it, too. 

I hoped Twitter and those that I convinced to follow me would validate my efforts. They could bring me something seeming to be purpose and justify me. 

And that never happened. They never did.

And as the years went by, and life happened — good things in life, even  — I grew more bitter. 

I wondered what was wrong with me, and what was wrong with everyone else.

I blamed the world for my insignificance. And I blamed myself. And I blamed those around me.

I figured I must not have potential. And, honestly, I’m still wondering. Why am I alive? 

Now, all this goes back to something deeper. 

I can’t blame the Internet for irritating something that was already exposed. 

But there is poison in what we live with.

And while I know there’s value in contemplating your own smallness in the face of it all, I do not know that it is healthy to confront this daily through a cellphone, with advertisements flashing. 

It can be habitual. What, then, is the influence?

How do you begin to see the world, or your community, or other human beings? 

Do you hate them? Do you fear them? Do you believe yourself better, yet unrecognized? 

For myself, I can resonate with those questions and apply them to my perspective. Can you?

It’s OK if you can. I get it. I think there are many more of us than just you and me. 

The fact is, until social media, human beings lived in their small universes mostly unaware of all those other realities out there speeding by. 

We were more concerned with our immediate surroundings and real experience.

We knew of and interacted with other people and their wants and opinions and promotions, but we did not ingest this stimulus constantly, and the sample size was much smaller in comparison.

Social media is our collective nervous system. Our anxieties, neediness, and hucksterism are bottomless. And you are but a copy of a copy in it, seeking all the same shit.

Social media has the ability to affect two things incredibly important to human beings. 

Money and ego. 

Twitter can make or break them. 

It’ll push your confidence up-up-up in line with dopamine, convincing you of all of your myopic fantasies. It’ll fire you and estrange your relationships while inspiring mobs in your honor.

The President pays attention to it. All the other world leaders. Of course, we do, too. 

It’s a website made by a few business-minded individuals, who keep it going. 

It represents the worst of what we already cared about, hyper-ized. 

It makes us care even more.

But I can’t blame the Internet for my issues. 

That’s not how I’ll make any progress. 

But like writing, sometimes making a point from personal experience feels right. It’s satisfying. 

And while there’s that part of me still hoping for the approval of Cool Ones found in tweets about my excellence, welcoming me to their club, it’s nice to remember how small a blog post is. 

And that they didn’t write it. 

And that a blog post, or a story, or a podcast, or whatever it is I make owes them nothing. 

My life and how it happens or how it sounds has not a thing to do with theirs.

I wonder how they see it? Do they have the same awareness or humility? 

Do they feel insecure, too? Is that why they tweet like so and rely on others and their tweets?

Is that why they write books? Or edit websites? Or offer opinions? 

Are they just as fearful of insignificance as I am? 

I care to know, but honestly, why?  

I don’t know them. Let alone have shaken their hand. And I have my own things to do.

But I’ll answer that question someday because I need to know why I’m even asking it.

Which is maybe only human.

1 Comment

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One response to “Caribou

  1. hyllbylli

    You have stirred my deepest emotions sir – you have tapped into the very threads of fabric which comprise humanity – thank you for sharing

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