Sunday, July 26, 2009

Twitter Vs. Solitude: Unpopularity as Mental Health


In a recent Rolling Stone interview Bob Dylan quotes Scipio as an explanation in how he so ably has disconnected from the rat race, "I'm never in such good company as when I'm alone." I admire Bob Dylan and Scipio but since I am neither a poetic nor military genius I've struggled to reconcile this truth into personal habit. Yesterday however I realized that the source of my life-long angst has been an unwillingness to accept that sometimes being alone is the only way to ensure good company.

I've pulled my mind apart by concerning myself between false choices of popularity and integrity. I can't blame myself too much. I chose the theatre for my first profession and advertising for my second. Both industries enable people-pleasing as a competitive advantage. I'm just now seeing however that my valuation of popularity as a security towards happiness is a fallacy. I've never been so unhappy as when I agree with the crowd as a means to be agreeable. In short, people pleasing sucks. I feel phony, afraid and unsure.

But, we seem to live in a world where the pursuit of popularity is burning on ample oxygen and to avoid it is to invite the anxiety one feels when ostracized from the herd. Twitter filled air-waves capitalize on tweets as a self-esteem currency where people long to be followed. Yet, I find myself reacting as a reclusive paranoid amidst this socialized narcissism. Mostly because I think that popularity has little to do with insight or intelligence. I was the kid beaten up on the playground due to late onset puberty and an astigmatism that led to coke-bottle lenses in welfare frames. Growing up poor and unattractive creates a longing for and distrust of the popular kids. I see in the twittering twits the same bullet-headed aggression. The instinctive tweeters fail to consider the possibility that tweeting too hard can often contradict their own self importance.

Bob Dylan again, "It's peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cellphones and iPods in their ears and wrapped up in media and video-games, it robs them of their self-identity. It's a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that's got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets."

In the battle of Twitter vs. Solitude I'm starting to lean towards the latter. It's happier knowing that the ideas and experiences I hold are intrinsically good because I have the capacity to hold them. For me, socializing them leads too often to the unintended but predictable conclusion towards consensus. Everyone wants to be aware of what everyone else likes to ensure that personally held likes will not create uncomfortable dislike. Like-mindedness masquerades as mindfulness in a culture that values mass-appeal and I'm starting to find it disagreeable.

I don't do this without angst. I want to be the popular kid. I want to be well loved and mediate my personality via the most viable social media but, deep down, I have to listen to the still small voice that responds to the invitation, "You can follow me on Twitter" with, "Why the fuck do I want to do that?"

I'm beginning to see popularity as sugar on my tongue. A tasty rush that has little nourishment.

I'm starting to prefer the uncomfortable but more durable option of becoming a majority of one.

I wonder if doing so will provide the insight to recognize my own idiot wind or the courage to face down an army of elephants.

2 comments:

The Unwelcome Guest said...

Just wanted to say that I found your blog today (via a different blog); I find it very thoughtful, refreshing, and encouraging. If you ever need/want another person to converse with, drop me an e-mail. If you get a chance to peruse my blog you'll see that I'm utterly confused about everything and need all the help I can get.

Rod said...

I like solitude myself!