I’ve conducted a social experiment. Albeit an accidental one, but I’m a scientist no less. Stay with me here...
I’ve been mostly housebound after surgery. And friends, I am a social creature. I gain energy from being around people. I love to make people laugh, and be made to laugh. Many photos of me look like these ones. Laughing, probably, at my own joke. People who consistently make me laugh will always take up sacred space in my heart.
I’ve had lots of visitors, been spoiled with gifts and food, but bit by bit I slipped into a bit of a fog, and for someone who loves laughing so much, I sure haven’t been.
In the last few weeks, I’ve fallen into a routine of Amazon Prime TV whilst ordering items on Amazon Prime (if you need any suggestions for must-watch or must-have... friends, I got you), and spending way, WAY too much time on social media.
I actually scrolled long enough to hit the Instagram message that lets you know you’re “all caught up”. I mean... that takes thumb strength and hours of alone-time to accomplish.
What I’ve discovered from my accidental social experiment is that I feel absolutely awful about myself, my life choices, and the one plaid dress I ordered in a weird autumn-lumberjack phase.
I scrolled highlights- and guys, I KNOW they’re highlights, and yet millimeter by millimeter I felt worse about myself until I didn’t feel like leaving my house because I was depleted of energy, zapped of any sort of life force, and feeling like the weird lump of playdoh you find under the table the day after the kids had it out.
However, speaking of kids, they needed to eat and I forgot to hit “order” on my online grocery order. The kids are small farm animals that gnaw through dairy, wheat and produce like they’re growing at record breaking rates, and our fridge was empty. I was going to have to pull it together and head out.
So I organized my face, wrangled my hair into a ponytail I convinced myself was passable, and I went to the grocery store.
Three weeks of laying around has taken its toll, and I was sweating profusely as I navigated the super, unreasonably long isles to get everything on my list.
I smiled at some babies and one cute elderly lady CRUSHING athleisure, bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, and had an epiphany about how easy it was to accidentally isolate yourself.
An online world is fun to connect (ummm, HI!!), to see beautiful images, see our friend’s babies and fur babies grow up, but it’s no place to live.
Our grandparents, heck even our parents, needed a village to raise their children and keep sane throughout all the ammunition life gave them. We think we’ve created a village, but when that village is fraudulent- carefully curated to only expose the finer moments of life- it’s better to be alone in a crowd than online with “friends”.
I pride myself on being honest in a world that continues to tell us to filter ourselves. And when you spend extended time in a filtered reality you start to lose sight of which way is ‘up’. You feel disconnected, disengaged, and so outside of yourself that you’ll forget how to laugh. I mean really, really laugh.
So the unscientific hypothesis from my accidental experiment is that when you’re having a hard time, when you lean into social media too hard, have some landmarks you can find to know which way is ‘Up’.
For me, ‘Up’ is the friends that make you laugh by sending you incredibly uplifting memes filled with profanity, a husband that makes you laugh because he tells you that you’re the prettiest when your hair is almost dreadlocked from sweating out the IV drugs, and ‘Up’ is going out alone in a crowd but feeling less alone than you have for weeks.
‘Up’ will always be where the ugliest parts are right next to the prettiest, where highlights and outtakes are side by side, and where you’re so connected and in the moment that all your dental work is on display.