"People who smile while they are alone used to be called insane, until we invented smartphones and social media.” Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Another week of quarantine life. Who would have thought this would be our lives? I went on spring break from my second semester of law school, and just never went back. Suddenly I, along with the rest of the world, was sequestered at home for the foreseeable future. Each day I spend some intentional time grounding myself in reality. This physical distancing still feels surreal in some ways. More and more I'm spending more time in the virtual realities of Zoom class sessions + hangouts, Facetime calls, texts, DMs, social media, video games, and on, and on. The entire concept of limiting screentime has gone out the window. I can't quite be content living vicariously so I do my best to bridge the gap between my two realities. I'm doing what I can to make this mundane. I'm ensuring that I still feel. I'm keeping my head on straight by doing regular things. My afternoons are usually spent singing and dancing while I do dishes, cook intricate meals, do laundry, complete craft projects, or write letters. Getting to put my pen to paper to write adds the gravity I'm desperately looking for when threatened to be engulfed by the internet ethos. My home has received a refresh. I've moved things around, put things away, and finished things I had long put off. It's making a world of difference to be happy with the environment that I am confined to.
That's the thing about home - the cliche about it being where both the heart is and where we make it are both right. I have found that so many people are floating aimlessly without a tether to the place that they live. It's a choice, whether active or passive, to not make a home where they are. I know often we live in transience on our way to permanency but as we are able it can be powerful to make home even if only for a little while. I mean the places we lay our head down are impersonal. There's not enough of us where we stay. Where's the things that are uniquely us? Where's the personality? Where's the warmth? Where's the light? We have to take the time to unpack, literally and figuratively. Take our things out of suitcases and boxes for us to actually use. Hang photos, artwork, decorations, etc. on the ways. Green up the space with plants. Add sentimental objects - compasses, hourglass, spyglass, gifts - whatever.
We need space. Where's the wallspace, and the floorspace? Put away the jacket chair, sort through our laundry, and empty out drawers from clutters. Do we have space to move around freely? Do we feel free where we are? What does it smell like? Bust out the candles, diffusers, plug-ins, and sachets to add presence to our living spaces. Play some music. What's the soundtrack to our lives - movie scores, 80's classics, curated Spotify playlists? Change the sheets. Move some furniture around - switch up the setup. Complete the project that's been delayed. Any kind of refresh we do to where we're living is going to make a difference. Then we have to give ourselves permission to be at home where we are, especially when it's temporary. Relax. Decompress. Chill out. It's okay to rest here, we'll still be able to move on soon enough. Holding back from making home is us denying ourselves the tranquility of stability in favor of some future peace. Why not both? If we're able to have home we need to let it be.
Time that we do the same for our digital environments as our physical environment. This pandemic has brought of some of the best and brightest of humanity, in addition to the very worst. There's people banding together, from afar, for remarkable acts of kindness, giving selflessly, and showing up for one another. There's others being selfish, peddling lies, and hoarding everything from resources to relief. What is striking to me is the amount of creativity that has flooded every corner of the web as a result of this. It is absolutely amazing to see people put their talents, humor, and love on display. So much laughter, dancing, art, and food. It's almost overwhelming that there's all of this at once. It's important that we're being purposeful in the media and messages we're consuming. I think a refresh to our timelines is long overdue.
Going through the accounts we follow, subscribe to, interact with, etc. to Marie Kondo weigh if they spark joy or at least bring peace to us and acting accordingly. There is something distinctly cathartic about unfollowing people that aren't adding anything worthwhile whether it be positivity, reflection, or challenge to our lives. It's that simple. If we're thinking about, we should do it. If we're worried about a severed connection we can mute them for a while as an intermediary. Do a big purge. Get rid of the excess. Do away with the cringe, the constant critique, and the oblivious. We are not obligated to entertain anyone else's content. It's our choice. It's our feed. What are willing to ingest? Does this uplift? Make think? Help me grow? Is this funny or good-natured? If not, it's worth it tap that unfollow, unlike, delete, whatever and move on. Why does the omniscient algorithm think I would be interested in this content? Tell it what to look out for, and get the community/connection that's being searched for. Refresh the timeline and see what a difference it makes.
This time is like seeing people unravel in real time. Instead of the curated, filtered, and painstaking detail we've become accustomed to we're seeing people less crafted. It's a bit jarring. In some ways it's heartwarming to see people who seem larger than life as regular people, and in other ways it's odd to see people drop the act. We're seeing more into people's lives, relationships, fridges, and neighborhoods than we ever really wanted to see. Maybe it's the exposing of the disparities between people especially in income or accumulating but the lifestyle differences can be stark. That's only even counting those who have reliable access to internet services and the devices to stream, post, and share. There's a whole swath of the world absent from the digital ethos, absent and largely erased.
If we didn't know better we would think that it's only middle and owning class families with open concept households compete with crown-molding and stainless steel appliances that existed on the internet. It would appear that people with drawers full of grooming/beauty products to recommend, pantries fully stocked with varied foods, and neighborhoods with backyards or sprawling greenery are all there are. It's a manifestation of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs where people are not having their basic needs met while others are have existential crisises of a different theoretical order. I think it's important to be cognizant of how many perspectives are either absent and/or excluded from the body of accessible "work." We're seeing a non-representative sliver of how those with some degree of privilege are living. This a read the room moment if there ever was one. It's great to share but it's worth thinking about how we might be impacting other people. After we adding to the comfort or adding more noise to the chatter? Goofy shenanigans are funny and all but wasting food, jumping into backyard pools, breaking things, etc. is not a good look when people are facing scarcity in getting what they require to survive.
Post less. I said what I said. Post less. I know some of us are bored and can spend hour lackadaisically browsing social media interchangeably, sharing memes, and double-tapping like it's our day jobs, but that's not everyone's reality. People don't need to see our entire lives. Somethings are left unsaid. Some moments are sacred and private. Some images do not need to be documented and then shared. Stop going live. It's okay to do things are not record them, or to even record them and not share them. Give your followers a break. It's too much. It's overload. It's less meaningful. We shouldn't post just to post. We should post with purpose. What are we trying to share? Why are we inviting people to engage with this piece of content? How have we contemplated the significance of what we're publicizing?
I think it's okay to press people to reevaluate their content if it doesn't sit well with us, makes us worried, or is downright lies or offensive. Not everything deserves commentary but if we're putting things out we should be prepared to receive some semblance of it. It's okay to tell people what you're noticing - maybe they just need one person to say something or to acknowledge that they are seen. It's a hey, you shouting into the void, I see you - are you good? Now more than ever we have to reach out to people to check their wellness and mental health.Social media may be their only outlet to connect with others. See something and say something or seek help for others. X
T = Is it true?
H = Is it helpful?
I = Is it Inspiring?
N = Is it necessary?
K = Is it kind?
*Adapted from Media Basics Curriculum
What's the point?
What does it say about me? Do I like that message?
How would I respond if someone else posted this?
Is now the time?