Ironically enough, I came across an Instagram post that said something like, “it’s better to watch long interviews featuring someone you admire than endlessly scroll TikToks designed for the primary purpose of virality”. I know we all get admonished for our social media usage, so this should come as nothing new. However, this phrasing prodded something I hadn’t thought about in a very long time: I used to be obsessed.
I used to love nothing more than burrowing down a rabbit hole shaped like my favourite author of the week (Zadie Smith forever), or hunting for interviews with women I admired like Eartha Kitt, Ottessa Moshfegh, Bridget Riley, or Kim Cattrall. I would read every edition of every fashion magazine I could get my hands on. I would snoop on my favourite writers and hope that they would write more. And then, slowly, without much notice, I stopped. As I’ve detailed in a previous article, my interests fanned out, and I found new pleasure in dabbling. (Oh, and I got a real job. But, of course, the internet rewards dabblers, so I continued eating the tapas the internet served up (see: social media) while ignoring my persistent hunger pangs.
“But what do you really feel like?” This is the question my boyfriend and I often bounce between each other when we’re starved and scrolling Deliveroo. Much like the spoils of the internet, you’re faced with a sea of seemingly endless choices, but in your heart, or rather, in this case, in your stomach, you know that only something very specific will do. The question of what I feel like with regards to my interests is an even harder hunger to satisfy. Yet, I somehow take it less seriously, maybe because it doesn’t impair my performance like my physical hunger does. Still, perhaps it does something more sinister yet subtle — it impairs my curiosity. The dull satisfaction of scrolling social, distracts not only from the hunger, but the idea that I can actually be fed (something of substance) in the first place. I accept crumbs when actually there’s a whole buffet available — the only thing is, like most things, I have to serve myself.
Serve myself what I really care about. Serve my best interests by asking myself if being mildly but constantly entertained is superior to being sometimes uncomfortable, oftentimes bored, and rarely but most importantly transformed. This isn’t a dunk on social media but rather a reminder (to myself) that being able to enjoy the spoils of the whole internet and spending most of my time on social media is akin to being given the keys to the best city in the world and then choosing to only go to the same three restaurants for the rest of my life.
So I will continue to scroll mindlessly, and I will continue to post Stories of bread, but I will also be finding things to be obsessed about, and I hope you will be too.
(Image from @fannyekstrand)