Saddle up for a series of hot takes. Yeehaw!
Social media! A journey of jealousy and curation, trendy filters and ever-changing lexicon, FOMO and even some JOMO. Variations of “remember, social media is just someone’s highlight reel!” have become a common refrain when considering’ profiles, and now manufactured vulnerability has become de riguer, much to ole Bummed Out Bailey’s chagrin… my culture of crippling anxiety and ideation is not costume, [hot influencer selling something via fake mental illness confessional].
Your moods can be soaring or plummeting while you post something in opposition. You can display energy while you’re exhausted, or take a sleeping selfie (???how) when you’re actually up and at ’em. Maybe these things end up being self-fulfilling! Except for the selfie taking while you’re sleeping, ’cause that sounds witchy. Maybe social media presentation is all an evolved take on the “fake it til you make it” mentality, but I suspect it’s still more of a manipulative tool or façade. Who knows.
So, something top of mind this past week in regards to social media are, naturally, Valentine’s posts. I’d like to even the playing fields here.
Dear people who are coupled up on Valentine’s,
Guys, what the hell? Stop it. Your lover is not shipped off to ‘Nam. Why are you gushing about your S.O. on a social media platform when A) you can just tell them how you feel in person or on the phone, which is more meaningful anyway, and B) it makes people who are lonely on V-Day feel worse? It’s weird. And it was like the more people posted love letters to their S.O.s, the more other people did until it was a deluge of saccharine. I like sugar, but… gag. I’m sneakin’ in some salt.
I post goofy tributes to Rick ’cause I crack myself up and also ’cause I know ain’t nobody wanna read about what we mean to each other except… each other. So, I talk about, like, Rick’s vest collection or how he complains about Sprinkles cupcakes icing to cake ratio being off.
It comes off as insecure to rave about your romance online, which may or may not be true IRL. Sometimes you just wanna publicly celebrate your person, I get it. But I know what it feels like to be lonely and scrolling through people’s love stories advertised all over the place on V-Day. It hurts, so be cognizant. And maybe take a romantic social media-less trip to ‘Nam together.
Dear lonely people on Valentine’s,
Reminder: marriage or romantic partnership does not equal ever-lasting emancipation from loneliness. The loneliness inside of these relationships actually compounds when you feel isolated or misunderstood because, even though you have a person to alleviate those things in theory, we’re all fallible human beings in practice and fail each other sometimes. Whether or not you’ve been in a longterm partnership, this is important for all people to keep in mind.
If you’re wondering what the heck is going on, and where your relationship(s) went wrong, they didn’t. It’s just that no one is posting the miserable stuff on the internet.com.
It’s Still Me, Bailey
P.S. One of my favorite podcasts I listened to this week was Bad On Paper’s “Being Single Doesn’t Have to Suck!” episode. I love the women who host this pod.
Three months after Rick and I got married my boss moved to Abu Dhabi and I asked to follow him. I created a deck and pitched why I’d be great and how badly I wanted it. I reasoned that Rick and I would fly back and forth and see each other every six weeks, equaling one trip for each of us every three months. I had it mapped and Rick’s arm twisted. My boss called me up on a Sunday morning and said that he and his wife had been married for 30 years, so this was kind of a drop in the bucket for them, but that my and Rick’s marriage was so new (he’d been there to celebrate with us) that he was wary to condone such a vast separation. I was so bummed when it didn’t work out back then, but Rick and I laugh about it now. The hindsight idea of us being separated by a 13 hour flight when we were just beginning to establish the foundation of our home is, for us, preposterous, especially considering how rocky it all was for us in the first two years. Rick likes to laugh and say “Hey remember when we got married and then you immediately tried to move away to the Middle East?” It seriously could’ve been a quick nail in the marital coffin.
Anyway, while Rick and I have only been together 5-6 years, I can appreciate that it’s a beautiful thing for two people to choose each other over and over, every day. However, I can’t just get up and move to the Middle East because I feel like it anymore. On October 1, 2016 I committed to consulting and considering another person on all big choices for the rest of my life. Maybe I’d actually like to be shipped off to ‘Nam for a three month teaching adventure where I get a long weekend to fly over to Chiang Mai and snuggle an elephant, but I can’t just jet off into the sunset. And because Rick still thinks Linkedin is social media, I wouldn’t find a romantic Valentine’s post online, anyway, unless it was an allusion hidden in an article about ROI or how to scale product.
Whenever I see precious babies on social celebrating birthdays, family vacations to the beach with sandy Michelin-man buns, and matching Christmas PJs and the joy/terror of meeting Santa, I think about how nice that must be to have: a cozy home with children underfoot. But, in the same vein as marriage v. singledom, there are pros and cons, right? Longterm relationships, children – each one of these things is like a root that grows deeper, making it evermore challenging to uproot from the place you’re in geographically, professionally, etc. Sometimes I long for a little house with a yard and a derpy golden retriever and my own herb garden and a baby toddling around, but I try to recalibrate my thinking to remember that while there are wonderful things about that potential, there are also wonderful things about life without children (yet), if that’s something you desire. The same goes for life without a longterm partner (yet), again if that’s something you desire.
I think it’s so easy to look at someone else’s life online and feel as if you’re missing something fabulous. It’s not all creative baby announcements and promproposals, though (good golly so glad that didn’t exist when I was in high school. THE PRESSURE). Instead it’s staying up all night fighting, begging your S.O. to please not sleep on the couch, that you’ve got to work through it instead, no matter how long it takes or how exhausted we’ll be tomorrow. It’s not getting more than three consecutive hours of sleep for months on end due to a challenging baby schedule. It’s an inexplicable pit of despair or impatience with your partner cause they keep griping about someone stealing their socks and people driving with their brights on when no one is stealing their socks and not everyone they think has their brights on actually does. But, enough about Rick. It’s children you adore but who are driving you crazy with constant bickering. It’s parents with cancer or a lonely grandparent with Alzheimer’s. It’s car wrecks and missed trains and cold coffee and someone shoulder-checking you on the street and cruel words. It’s resenting your S.O. ’cause he’ll never understand what it’s like to have a dear brother experiencing homelessness and heroin addiction. It’s unfair. It’s also a thoughtful gift and a new friendship and a stiff cocktail and a loved one showing up to surprise you and fun bops on the radio and an exciting new career change and a gorgeous manicure that lasts a long time. It’s laughing at the bad times to make it through, it’s treasuring the good times when they come. It’s so, so many things, and I hate the limitations we put on ourselves when we compare the arbitrary bits we choose to feature on social media.
For years now we’ve been sanding down the bumps of social media unrest and what lies beneath those peaks and chasms. I think we know deep inside that everyone has their highs, lows, days when they feel bad about themselves, elated, gassed up, drained, inspired, decimated, anything. And the content doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s really going on.
This actually brings me a sense of peace. Maybe that peace will be fleeting as we learn more and more about how we intertwine with the internet’s tendrils but, in this moment, remembering the fallible person behind the screen is freeing.
Free motto: Is my lover shipped off to ‘Nam?
POST SCRIPT BONUS!
While I’m on a roll, here are more social media things that need to die:
– “my forever wedding date”
– “this man/this one”
– “I did a thing/we did a thing”
– “long hair don’t care” (good grief Nicki Minaj said this on the “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” freestyle in 2007. 2007! Let’s find a new hair ref.)
– while on the subject, “can’t stop won’t stop”
– anything about tacos or Hocus Pocus, they’re the new PSL
– TBT/”throwin it back” to anything less than, like, five years ago
Wow, I feel so much better getting that off my chest.
Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.
More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Construct. Deconstruct? Reconstruct. Struct? Help.
Mental Health: Tired of Me
Mental Health: The Things We Carry
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