I didn’t really want to get into sharing all over my social media accounts, because I wasn’t trying to be dramatic about it, but I think a little less screen time would be immensely helpful for me. I had posted this to my Patreon, but it occurred to me that friends might worry if they don’t see me online for a while, so I might want to make an update on my blog here as well. It may look like I’m disappearing for some amount of time, so before I let too much time go by I thought it might be wise to check in with you all and share where my head and heart is at right now.
We’re living in weird, sad, awful times on a global scale. Personally, we’re all going through our own shit. It’s a lot. But it’s not even that.
I’m burnt out, I’m experiencing some health-related strangeness, all of this is true. But it’s not that, either. There is the internet. Telling me I’m not productive enough, pretty enough, popular enough, that I don’t care enough, that I don’t want to save the world enough. It’s too much for any person. It’s too much for me.
Back in 1999, a friend helped me set up an AOL account. He jokingly said, “Are you ready to be queen of the internet?” I didn’t know what that could possibly mean or what that might look like. Not soon thereafter I signed up for my Live Journal account, where I realized that I could write my thoughts online and that anyone in the world might read them. I started an eBay account where i sold my sister’s old collectible Barbies (we made a killing) and then moved to sourcing and curating a little vintage clothing shop. I worked for my stepfather’s mail-order occult book business at the time, and with the HTML I had taught myself from tarting up my LJ profile page, I built us a website and moved the business to the internet. I had my own little website on Geocities and once I had a pirated copy of Dreamweaver in my mitts, I built my own little web-log. Web-blog! We used to call them that!
I have been very online from the moment that I realized it was a place to play and connect…two things I am terrible at in real life. I realized that on the internet, I could be the version of me that I always wanted to be, smarter, funnier, more eloquent, and articulate. With the buffer of cyberspace between me and another human being–I was all of those things.
The years went on, and with the exception of a period of time during the MySpace era when I was in a shitty relationship where my internet usage and every keystroke was monitored, I continued to live a very online life. With every new social media account, I found a new place to try and be my “best me.” I’ve never stopped. I’m still trying, in my stunted, weird little introverted way, to somehow become queen of the internet.
The problem with nebulous goals is that you have no parameters or criteria, you don’t even know what the endgame is. And whatever you do, no matter how much you’ve done or how far you’ve gotten, it’s never, ever enough.
I can’t satisfy that void within me that answered the internet’s call so many years ago. It’s a hole that will never be filled. Though I’ve not become a flashy influencer, I’ve been consistent and dependable. And over the years I think that’s built me a reputation and a small following–which has led to some really cool opportunities. I’ve written three books. I was on NPR. I was featured in my favorite magazine in the world! And some of my favorite podcasts! My favorite perfume company collaborated with me to create a series of perfumes! What more do I want?
It’s everything. I want everything. And it’s exhausting to want so much and know that no matter how hard I work, create, or produce, at the end of the day, I’m still the person behind the screen who in reality is fairly unremarkable.
What does that unremarkable person do when no one is watching? When she’s not writing up a moment in her head even as it is still happening so that she can share it on Instagram with a heavily filtered photo later? What is she writing, smelling, reading, or cooking, when she’s the only one who will ever know about it?
This is all very-in-my-head, navel-gazey stuff. It’s embarrassing. I feel like at my age I should have better stuff to worry about, and don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of worries and anxieties. But this one. It’s a constant. A sort of “who are you and why should anyone care?” demon on my shoulder for as long as I have had a sense of self.
So! –I say as I pick up my phone and go to check TikTok for the tenth time this morning even though I have temporarily deleted all of those apps from my devices– So! Here’s where I am. For the next two weeks, I’m deleting social media apps from my phone and logging out from all of that junk on my other devices. The stretch goal is a month, but I’m officially telling myself “two weeks.” If you need to get ahold of me for any reason, feel free to email me at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com, and of course if you’ve got my number, feel free to text. But don’t call me, for god’s sake!
As I write this here I am already one day in, and guess what–it didn’t kill me. There may be hope for me yet.