The consequenses of excess media consumption

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Life as single, or, alone, isn't too bad. You have all the freedom you can imagine. You answer to yourself, and no one else. It's a life of infrequent sorrows. You can't have your heart broken if you keep it to yourself. Usually, everything is just swell. But then that day comes. The day after the party, or the eventless Sunday. This is where the medal flips, and you see the backside. A wave of loneliness and futileness crashes over you. This is not just the regular post-party blues. We're talking "I-almost-cried-in-Target" kind of blues. How can it be that a young person, with a large number of good friends, a handful of close, a large and stable family, and the whole world in his pocket, suddenly feels so immense loneliness?

It's a cliche to say it at this point, but we are all constantly on(line). We're never off(line). None of your friends are ever further away than a Snap or a Messenger message. In our pockets is a tiny device that gives you access to the combined knowledge of the entire human race, past, and present. We can watch movies, listen to music, read books, and play games, anywhere and at any time we want. No more waiting for the next episode to air on television, or waiting for your turn to pick up that book from the library. And we just take it all in, all the time. If there is just a chance of a few seconds of nothingness, our hand reaches out, and our thumb starts swiping. It has become a reflex. We don't even think about it anymore. In ten years, this device and its features have gone from being a novelty to being second nature.

What does that have to do with loneliness? When we are keeping ourselves occupied all the time, we are feeding the brain the threats it so deeply wants. The brain is always busy, so we lose the ability to feel ourselves and reflect. If we are in constant contact with our friends, we never feel alone. But when it gets to Sunday, and your friends don't answer immediately because they are visiting family or couching with their girlfriend, you realize that you feel alone. You suddenly just stand there in your apartment, surrounded by black rectangles that are constantly begging for your attention, and a squishy lump in your skull that just wants more, more, more. This is where the feeling of futileness begins to creep up. Why the fuck am I wasting my time? Why do I spend most of my life staring at a screen, instead of meeting new people and making meaningful connections? You lose your spirit. All those things that you used to enjoy, don't seem so appealing anymore. I don't want to cook, I don't even want to watch tv, I don't want to do anything. All I want is this feeling to go away. You start to ask yourself questions.

Why don't I have a girlfriend? Besides that being a question your little niece might ask you, it's also a question you start to ask yourself. Why don't I have a girlfriend? Here in the middle of the living room, or Target, or where you are, you suddenly start to reflect on that question. You start realizing, that you probably never tried that hard to get a girlfriend in the first place. At the same time, your enormous use of movies, shows, and what's worse, that is all filled to the brim with hot girlfriend material, has completely twisted your expectations for a potential girlfriend's looks and personality. And I ain't talking about how sex in real life is not like sex in porn, we are way past that, we all know that. I am talking about, that the persons you spend all of your time looking at, and with whom you start to feel a kind of connection, aren't like most people. It doesn't paint a realistic painting. But how can you expect to ever date someone who isn't like Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, or Cobie Smolders, when you just spent the last couple of months binge-watching Friends and How I met your mother?

We're just a bunch of fucking animals (Thanks, Architects), although the smartest animals in the world. But being the smartest doesn't make us any less stupid. We have urges that will automatically drive us, and keep us going and working for our goals. But we have invented a whole bunch of stuff, that can satisfy these urges, without us ever needing to do anything about it. We have then surrounded ourselves with all of these inventions, to keep our everyday life comfortable. It isn't enough that we are stupid, we are also lazy by nature. So it's no wonder that you choose to watch the tenth episode in a row of your current show to get that shot of dopamine, instead of doing the "hard" thing. To stop doom-scrolling Facebook, and instead invite that cutie out on a date.

This is kind of a letter to myself. It's a problem that I have identified, but also a problem that I have a hard time solving, even though I know the answer. I think that, right now, the cure is reading books, engaging at work, cooking food, and staying social. But most important of all, keep reminding myself of what I have written here and try my best to make the next day's version of me, better than the last.