Resisting the urge to shrink into quietude
Have you ever tried it?
Welcome to Thursday’s dispatch, a full 24-hours late. If you’re not a subscriber but want to be, I just learned you can add buttons everywhere.
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Sorry, that was chaotic, I LoVe LeArNiNg NeW tHiNgS!!! Onwards:
There are so many excuses to justify shrinking yourself into quietude lately.
Or, actually, this has always been the case and is probably part of the reason so many people choose to live privately. I’ve often respected and even envied those who don’t seek a constant feedback loop. They (maybe you) seem very confident and self-assured. In the past, I’ve assumed this means I am neither but you know, I am realizing, I like living my life out loud.
I think I’ve always been like this. They call it “external processing.” At times it has seemed or perhaps appeared to seem reckless. It has de facto manifested in recklessness too.
But this general orientation to live out loud is consistently motivated by my desire to connect with an experience, an entity, some version of being that takes me outside of myself. Outside of my own experience and circumstance and echo chamber (I prefer to call it “the quartet of reinforcement”) and to observe someone else doing the same thing: swimming through the shit or the gold of living their life.
I was feeling kind of down yesterday -- a bit overexposed, or maybe the better word is frivolous.
Yeah, it was frivolous. I wasn’t even actually down when I think about it now. Just wanting to get closer to the ground.
I’d been on the phone with a friend that morning. He detailed the bureaucratic shit he’s dealing with at work. The extent to which New York is ripping him open, kicking his ass and completely demystifying — then spoiling! — the magic sauce that keeps so many of us here.
I thought about the pile of New York dogshit he’s cleaning while I scrolled through Instagram.
Post after post, in random order:
Two crystal coups of champagne, vintage! under
An attack on minorities under
A fancy new handbag under
A petition to cancel under
A tablescape full of ceramic vases under
The royal our contribution to the decimation of our planet.
I understood a bit more clearly why social media causes so much fury. Why when you post something it might bring up shit that really upsets someone else. Here, for example, I’m listening to a recount of the administrative loops the department of dogshit is throwing my friend through and it seems that I’m like, sitting on a couch, picking my ass and singing, “Falalala, here are some reasons to love New York -- one includes trash on the ground. Cute!”
It makes me want to shrink into quietude at first. Mostly because it sucks to imagine that posting a slideshow of a thing I feel, or think, or experience in earnest could implore someone else to feel like their shit day was worse than it was. But then I think about it again and am like: well, Leandra, what actually underlines those posts? I realize it’s more like a sort of will to love something that might really be breaking. It’s my own way of coping. Fluffy and saturated and hopeful as ever.
This is kind of an irrelevant example because my friend’s not that kind of guy -- he doesn’t let his reality bleed into someone else’s or the other way around. I just don’t know how disciplined the rest of us are. How disciplined I am.
It’s confusing and complicated and therefore easy as hell to indulge the impulse to misinterpret what were consuming. Because we’re all in the same supermarket, right? You’re looking for something in that aisle, I’m looking for something in this one, we cross paths, we exchange pleasantries. I see something in your cart (toaster waffles) that I want for mine, you see something in my cart (a “chicken nugget simulation”) that you’d never fucking buy and because we never leave this damn market, we get so used to seeing each other that slowly but surely, we psych ourselves into believing that the contents of our carts -- our respective pursuits -- are intentional messages to each other. That my soy nuggets and your toaster waffles mean something different or more than they actually do. (Are?)
Have you ever given much thought to what you want to get out of the apps that you use? To take it one further, have you ever asked yourself what roles you want to play on them? For the most part, I think whatever you answer to either question is fine. Use your apps to grow, to learn, to distract yourself from your day. To entertain or to be entertained. To laugh, to cry. Get outraged. Or activate. To do a little bit of it all.
Start a watchdog account. Post pictures of whale butts. Be an activist. Or a writer — of fictional tales about talking peas. Only publish public service announcements. Never publish any kind of announcement. Shill for your brand! Take photos of your wrist. Screenshot random sentences you encounter on Reddit.
Whoever you are, whatever you do, just do it with a purity of intention. Good intention. It might be too much to ask that we force ourselves to see this in each other’s output, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we find it in our own. You know?
So what’s on for breakfast?