I’m sick of it all.

Social-media-communication

I’m sick of social media.

I’m sick of perfectly curated photographs and carefully constructed personas.

I’m sick of scrolling, and likes, and hearts, and hahas, and wows, and favorites.

I’m sick of elaborate pregnancy announcements, and 800-like engagements, and incredible before-and-afters and endless go-fund-me’s, all while I struggle to figure out what my “plan” should be, or whether it’s worth even having one when life always seems to intervene and destroy it anyway.

I’m sick of everything being a photo shoot, and pictures of perfect yoga poses in idyllic locations, and hot dog legs on beaches and photo editing apps that make human beings look creepily moonlit, like the Veelas from Harry Potter.

I’m sick of the highlight reel of everyone’s lives; the equivalent of a braggy family holiday newsletter, but instead, one that blasts off every goddamn day, causing everybody looking on to feel inadequate.

I’m sick of the depression, the insecurity, and the addiction to positive reinforcement, where I feel like a failure if one of my articles doesn’t perform well.

I’m sick of everybody “doing it for the ‘gram” and ignoring me while I speak because they need to check their feeds…

And of restaurants who put food on artfully collected slabs and in weird containers, so their patrons will share social media pictures.

I’m sick of friggin’ mason jars.

I’m sick of the non-ironic usage of hashtags while I’m interacting person-to-person, and even more sick of the fact that I do it too.

I’m sick of shameless clickbait, and flawlessly-crafted viral videos.

I’m sick of algorithms, and formulating shitty headlines to get more clicks, more engagement, more bullshit.

I’m sick of writing thinkpieces.

I’m sick of thinkpieces, generally. And thinkpieces about thinkpieces. And thinkpieces about thinkpieces about thinkpieces. And the entire circle-jerk of opinions that fire off just for clicks, just for ad revenue; just to agitate us social media addicts for money.

I’m sick of playing into it all with my outrage; my engagement.

I’m sick of every handpicked media story-of-the-moment being beaten to death within a 12-hour cycle — before I’ve even had a chance to process what it all means or to collect my thoughts to write my own goddamn thinkpiece.

I’m sick of everybody feeling like they need to make a public statement after every single noteworthy event happens — it’s like millions of miniature self-run PR departments kicking off into gear every time there is a mass shooting or huge political happening, or a celebrity dies.

I’m sick of feeling like I need to participate in this minute-by-minute word vomit, and of the fear that I will never be a successful writer if I don’t.

I’m sick of performing, and of feeling like I need to become a “personal brand,” and seeing writers and creators I love and respect having to feed the content-creation beast 24/7.

I’m sick of being so drowned in voices that I don’t even recognize my own anymore.

I’m sick of being “on” all the time.

I’m sick of writing “sorry for the delayed response” every time I don’t reply to someone within twenty minutes.

I’m sick of my aching elbow and hand reminding me that I spend my life staring at a screen; for work, for social life, for news, for entertainment.

I’m sick of only feeling fully alive every once in a while, when I am out of cell service range and am finally free of all the expectations and “conveniences” of modern life.

I’m just sick of it all.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

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Photo Credit: Flickr user CelestineChua

As a newly-minted 30-year-old, I spend a good portion of my time grappling with impossible questions: what am I doing with my life? What should I do with my life? Should I have a family? Should I be doing more for my career? Should I fake my death to get out of paying my student loans? (Kidding… sort of.)

One issue I’ve been working through lately is the pursuit of my writing: On the one hand, I am pulled to be a successful writer who makes money with my words. On the other hand, I’m not sure if I’m willing to do all that being a successful, paid writer entails.

This dichotomy is illustrated perfectly in this brilliant article by Mark Manson, “The most important question of your life.” Manson (I think rightfully) claims that asking ourselves what we theoretically want in life isn’t as important as asking ourselves what dreams we’re willing to sacrifice for:

“Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand. 

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.”

Manson’s words are so spot on it hurts. I love writing, and I think I’ve always imagined myself as a writer. Writing is one of the only clear goals I have ever had in my rather directionless life. Yet, when it comes to the sacrifice — the long hours spent keeping up on Twitter, posting to Facebook, reading and commenting on other blogs to build WordPress relationships, promoting myself across social media, pitching myself out to media outlets, writing every single day, never being able to unplug — it all feels like too much.

It’s no longer enough to hole yourself up in a beach cottage somewhere, write the next great American novel, and ship it off to publishers. These days, to be a successful writer, it feels like you have to have absurdly high follower counts, a “strong social media presence,” the body measurements of an E! host, professional photography skills, an intermediate understanding of HTML, and oh yeah — you have to be “on” at all times.

It seems endless and it all totally overwhelms me. I’m going to keep it real here: by the time I’ve spilled my heart onto the page and pressed publish, I’m kind of exhausted. I’ve barely got the energy to halfheartedly post my article to social media, much less follow up on comments, cross-post, or even submit my essays to media outlets who have outright asked to publish my work.

The truth is, if I don’t bother to sacrifice myself at the alter of social media and shameless plugging, someone else will. Let’s face it, thousands will. There are millions of wannabe writers out there, many of whom are willing to do what I am not. I could have all the talent in the world, but without the hard work, I am a waste.

I love to write. I love to blog. I long for more. But at what cost? The idea of being chained to social media day in and day out fills me with dread. I do not like the thought of giving up the balance in my life and tirelessly throwing myself into the dream.

Perhaps I really am just in love with a powerful illusion; a vision of me sitting in that little cottage composing my life’s work. It’s a beautiful chimera, that’s for sure.

But maybe there is more inside me. Maybe that little voice that says what I’m doing now isn’t enough is pushing me out of my comfort zone for a reason. Maybe, after nearly three years of deep, all-encompassing grief over my mother’s death, I am coming back to life, and ready to try again.

In 2015, I promised to publish more. I did that. I posted essays rather consistently, built a moderate following, got syndicated by Thought Catalog, and overcame my incessant and damaging need to be liked. 2016 could very well be the year I go further, and really sacrifice for my art.

I think I’m ready to throw myself in.

What are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish what you want in life?