Highlight Reels and Pandemics

For the past 5 months in the United States (and longer in other places around the world), COVID-19 has brought the world to it’s knees. It’s forced many of us into completely new habits and has elevated us of our awareness of unique things. Between sanitizing more surfaces than I ever have and saying “I think you’re mic is muted” a few hundred times on conference calls, here are a few reflections.

Social media stopped being a highlight reel for a small bit. It made me reflect more on my love hate relationship with it. More often than not unfortunately, my love for it has me absorbed into it. WhatsApp to Instagram and back to reading what Aunty posted about the benefits of ichar on COVID symptoms (not a real thing…). An interesting thing happened though – no one could post fancy dinners and cute destinations because everyone was locked into the same situation. And aside from TikTok spewing a slew of random dance challenges, it was as if we all suddenly couldn’t add to our wish lists anymore. The thing about social media is that after you spend a few minutes on it under normal circumstances, you have a few minutes worth more of desires that you didn’t have before. Now suddenly you want to have that ice-cream cone shaped pizza roll (real thing in New Jersey) and you want your next destination to be somewhere tropic.

But when COVID hit, there wasn’t much to post about. Racial injustices climbed to the top of everyone’s pages and social media became a platform to raise awareness for these things. It was really amazing. The guy who usually posts selfies with his organic Angus beef burger with sweet potato fries was posting a Blackout Tuesday post. Families spoke more and unique opportunities to connect were sought. Joint workouts via zoom, cousin calls, and yes – some TikTok dances.

While this all sounds great, we shouldn’t minimize what the pandemic caused. This was as much an emotional pandemic for some than it was a physical one. Certain persona’s aren’t meant to be cooped up in their own confined space. There were many jobs lost and many emotional states broken. Many sought solace in reconnecting with their family and friends which in itself was a beautiful thing. It was hard. It still is. And it’s scary – not just because of the pandemic itself but from the huge gap between people who care about being cautious and those who don’t.

The world slowly is opening back up. And while this post is all over the place, I think what I want to say is that when our intake from social media generally decreased because of the pandemic, we were able to cope with the reality of how hard this pandemic was. And if something is that good, we shouldn’t give it up. If you allow Social Media to just be the hot sauce in your life, then I think it’s a recipe for happiness. If you overload the hot sauce, it can burn. Overloading on social media is so easy to do. But what results is this inorganic list of wishes and desires that aren’t from within. And that matters because our emotional state more often than not goes hand in hand with our ability to work towards our internal list of wishes and desires. As our intake in general increases, it pushes aside our organic goals and sense of wonder for desires we didn’t even want 2 minutes before scrolling through  it.

Work hard, take care of your heart and take care of your intake. Boredom > Anxiety

My Social Media Post

I have a reoccurring frustration with social media that I’m going to directly discuss. Yes, there is an irony in that this post is being shared via social media but there is an important lesson to address.

Expectations have been around forever. Society has always implemented certain expectations that we subconsciously cater our desires towards. We attempt to control those expectations and realize that we should be blessed with all that we have.

That was reality for much of my childhood and for times before. Social media now documents those very same expectations. It colors in a concept that previously had blurry lines. For those who sift through their various feeds, there is a constant bombardment of an expectation you slowly cater your desires towards.

It’s as if we slowly lose more of ourselves in exchange for desiring this beautiful picture that everyone has a hand in painting.

I don’t stand against social media, I simply stand with controlling your intake. Your empty time shouldn’t be social media’s to own otherwise you’ll constantly and subtly be exposed to clear pictures of what you don’t have. Not only that, you’ll find an inability to truly sit with yourself.

Social media is a virtual drug. And this post is a reminder to me more than anyone else. There is a beautiful broken life around you that we have taken ourselves away from by digesting a perfect virtual expectation. Beautiful places, amazing food, weddings – suddenly you find yourself wanting much more than you ever have – and consequently not wanting the beautiful broken life that you do have.

Technology is a powerful way to navigate through the complexities of modern day society. However, the hammer that builds happens to be the same hammer that destroys. The truth is, everyone is broken. And we push down on our bruises the more we compare our broken parts with others fixed ones.

Social media can be great in doses that allow you to connect with the world around you. Moderation, like everything else in life, is key. Like I said, I don’t stand against social media since I’m as much a part of it as anyone. I simply think we owe it to ourselves to not overly distract ourselves from the lives that we do have.

“To truly desire the life that you have is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself”

How to Dance in Your Rain

Life somehow feels harder at times than it did before. Does anyone else feel it? The good still feels good, but the hard feels harder. I wondered why that was. Social media highlighting much of what we don’t have? Tragedies around the world subconsciously disturbing us? A shallowness internally based on an “instant-click” society? Perhaps some combination of all three?

I’ve noticed that I’ve repeatedly sat through various storms in my life recently and just waited for them to pass. After one storm left, another followed with only brief moments of sunshine – if any at all. It’s felt like a pretty miserable way to live life. All the while I lay curled up waiting for a particular storm to pass, I’m watching people around me bask in their sun. It’s made the raindrops heavier.

Here’s some advice:

Firstly, realize that a picture of someone’s sunshine is just that – a picture. A snap of their reality at a moment in time their storm briefly left. I think part of the reason the hard feels harder now is because we are wrapped up in everyone else’s sunshine (via social media) in the midst of our storms.

Secondly, interact with more people. Connect with them. Have conversations with them.  Some only interact with the world around them via social media, some just quick cliché conversations, and some just enjoy being in the company of people but not actually interacting. Before the dawn of texting and social media, people would create deep and meaningful relationships with people around them which was an important step in creating a deep and meaningful relationship with ones self.

Thirdly, realize that everything happens for a reason. The rain falls and the sun shines and both are equally important in your growth. Don’t lose site of that.

Whatever way you decide to do, make a decision to not sit curled up through any more of your storms. Just be you and find transcendence in the being that you are. Find depth in your life. Don’t just stand through your storms, walk tall through them. Do things that make you, you. Strengthen yourself from the inside out so that your life doesn’t become an amalgamation of various shallow connections. Don’t imbue into your life someone else’s sunshine – create something beautiful out of your storm.

My contention is this: before the dawn of texting, social media, and the internet – we harnessed a strength that allowed us endure our life. We thought more, felt more, interacted more, and saw things with a deeper sense of intuition. We can’t fight societies norms, so don’t. Instead, discipline your intake. Intake less of that which draws attention to what doesn’t fill you, and intake more of what fills you.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”