After reading this well-written and eye-opening post about social media addiction and why the constant feeding of our personalities and lives into a 2-dimensional, 140-character-limited soundbitten meme may not be the best thing for our mind-body, our authentic inter-connectivity with the real live people in our lives, or indeed our very lives themselves, it got me thinking.
Life was meant to live on two feet, in the real world, in the here-and-now, with other people, who are doing the same thing. It wasn’t meant to be chronicled and updated. It wasn’t meant to be overshared.
Indeed, the more “connected” we are on social media sites, the more of a growing sense of alienation we begin to feel. Our lives become transparent and empty, because they are spent on the couch, scrolling through updates and posting statuses rather than scrolling through life and conversing in the flesh with people we actually know.
And yet, so many of us fall into the trap, sucked in by the undertow that is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the others who, like a pack of hungry wild dogs, await you at the bottom of the tree you’ve climbed up into, eagerly preying on your insecurity and desire to feel accepted (“liked”) and significant.
I repeat: it got me thinking…
When I sit still and everything is quiet and turned off, I am disconnected, and there’s nothing to distract me or validate me…
…Who am I?
When one removes all the over-stimulus, the labels, the judgment (of self and by others), and the roles we’ve accepted, and we’re stripped down to our very naked core…
…what’s left? Am I an aggregate of what other people think I am and perceive me to be? Am I any more or less legitimate if there’s no one there to see me?
Who is the real me? (And who is the real you?)
Am I really the shy wallflower who has learned to adapt semi-successfully in a world that values extroversion? Do I really like hunter green? Do I actually like the TV show, “1000 Ways To Die”?
Am I straight and married because I really am, or because society expects me to be? Am I actually female at my core, or something else?
Do I really think dark cloudy days are cool? Do I actually like Metallica, or am I just satisfying a persona that I want the rest of the world to think exists? (Does it exist?)
Am I a true healing person who truly cares about humanity, or could I really care less and gravitate toward the field because
- biochemistry is fun (but is it really?)
- I get a self-satisfaction out of knowing that it was my advice that ultimately led to them feeling better?
I’m not second-guessing myself in a way that one might believe; that is to say that I’m not calling fundamental aspects into question, fueled by self-doubt or self-loathing. I’m simply putting certain characteristics I’ve assumed to be genuine under the microscope to examine them closely and be sure that they’re real and if they’re not, to acknowledge that they’re not and with renewed awareness, decide whether I want to keep them or discard them.
Some aspects are easier to evaluate than others. Metallica fits a once-desired persona, but it grew on me somewhat in the process. I don’t choose to listen to them often, but if they happen to come on the radio, I may or may not change the station in search of something else. Hunter green’s another easy one–it belongs in certain situations, but it’s not my favorite color of choice most of the time. And truthfully, “1000 Ways To Die”, despite its compelling morbid curiosity factor, is way too violent and negative a show.
…And some aspects are more difficult to evaluate than others. Am I straight? Am I gay? Somewhere in between? Am I neither? To answer that, I have to answer another question first: do I see myself as a real female, or not?
Despite the obvious hardware, trying to determine what’s inside makes me scratch my head. I gravitated way more toward gender-neutral toys like Legos and Matchbox cars. I didn’t go in too much for Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, GI-Joe, or any of the others.
In fact, when Lego got “too male”, with its spaceship kits and such, I stayed away from that end of the spectrum, instead favoring basic sets with which I could build cities.
Even beyond childhood, I hated the idea of gender roles, the very idea that you were either relegated to–or denied–an entire set of characteristics, allowances, activities, and even sometimes career paths, just because you were born with a certain anatomy.
After dabbling in some female-centric professions (cocktail waitressing, massage therapy), I realized that the world still somewhat sucks for women. Massage therapy and cocktail waitressing appear diametrically opposed, but the truth is, they have much more in common than one might realize. Both serve and nurture (albeit different facets, and in different venues), and both can potentially take a lot of shit. This taught me that despite my plumbing, I’m not necessarily female at my core.
Well, that certainly narrows things down (not). And as far as sexuality? If my gender identity was already akin to murky water, this question just further obscures the view. Surprisingly, I find it much easier to relate to–and develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with–women.
But they must be a certain type of woman–none of this talking-on-a-cellphone-while-driving-a-monster-SUV-to-pick-up-my-kids-because-I’m-a-helicopter-parent shit. Instead, I prefer earthy and salty, with a background in the healing arts or education, often with an affinity for pickup trucks and/or well-placed profanity, while also maintaining an air of gentleness about them that makes them “safe”.
Men are something I accept because during pivotal times in my life, I figured that was part of the package called Growing Up. You know the drill–graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, get a job, find a boyfriend, get engaged, get married, by a house, and have some kids.
These are called Next Logical Steps, into which precious few put a sufficient amount of thought. I love my partner like life itself, and I can’t imagine life without them. But I honestly don’t know what I’d choose if I found myself teleported back to that pivotal space and time. Would I have made the same decisions? Or would I have explored other options that deviated significantly from those Next Logical Steps?
Hell, I suspect that I don’t fit neatly into any of those categories…except maybe the “somewhere in between”.
And am I a healer? I know that it is socially acceptable, even admirable, to want to help people. Is it the people I care about? Yes, no, and some more yes. The first “yes” pertains to the fact that I genuinely like clientele; in fact, I’ve wished that I’d known some of them outside of my professional arena so that we could hang out personally and become friends. But since they’re clientele, that’s treading into more of those murky waters, so I abstain.
The “no” part comes from the fact that I may or may not still choose to do this if I ever won the lottery (which I know won’t ever happen, since I don’t even play). Sometimes I find it difficult to deal with some people, and a few can become downright pains-in-the-ass.
The other “yes” part is derived more out of empathy – I know that when I realized we were all getting screwed by drug companies and their dominance of conventional medicine (along with its presentation that it is the only option), I got pissed. I’d been duped. And as sort of a retaliation/revenge, I wanted to make sure that everyone else knew about this, too, so that they wouldn’t get duped anymore, either.
So am I vengeful and angry at my core, or am I truly calm and peaceful once all external stimuli are removed? That’s probably the most difficult question of all to answer because I could go either way, although I think I would lean more toward the calm. Maybe not peaceful, per se, but at least calm.
Being still and disconnected from the tech world and connected to their inner being is terrifying for some. I think the only reason it doesn’t frighten me to death is because without any friends for much of my elementary school career, I had plenty of time to do so and hardly any choice in the matter.
I remember that those were simple times in my life, in which I didn’t have to impress anyone or conform to any persona, because there was no one to impress or conform to. I also remember that it was a lonely and unpleasant time.
We’re meant to be connected and to interact with each other. Which means it’s not healthy to sit in solitary confinement. Realize that wasting away hours on social media sites is a form of solitary confinement, because the only entity we’re interacting with is the computer.
Let’s not fool ourselves, we’re not actually interacting with any people; it’s nothing but words and pictures on a screen, and a false sense of connectivity.
No, I’m happiest when I’m hanging with family or laughing with friends. I’m happiest when I’m listening to one of my clientele ask me questions that prove to me her continued growth and evolution, and tell me without a doubt that she’s making progress with little daily breakthroughs.
Hell, maybe I like people after all. But it’s also good to just Be Still every so often, with no stimulus and no distraction, so that when you come together with the rest of the world, you can recognize it for what it truly is.