It takes a level of unbelievable courage to be alone these days. When we are alone – unplugged and disconnected – we are forced to see ourselves unbearably honest and naked, with every blaring imperfection, every annoying personality trait, all the little things that make us unbearably and undeniably human. #Nofilter.
We don’t often find ourselves in this situation. Like a young child entering puberty – we hunch our backs, let our hair hang over our faces, we speak softly and walk gingerly-as if at any moment we may burst into flames. It is uncomfortable for us to be this way, exposed, the realness of everything we are suddenly incredibly apparent-because we cannot hide if we are left to wander alone in our own minds. Without pounding music to numb our thoughts, or the ever-present vibrate in our pocket, familiar as a heartbeat, we aren’t sure what to do with ourselves. It is like seeing a cartoon character come to life. Gone are the speculations and casual observations of others, the things that often have the power to change how we view ourselves, that are capable of providing excuses and misinterpretations. Controlling the way another person sees us allows us to believe these things ourselves, to feign perfection.
We constantly seek approval and recognition from those who are subjected to the nauseatingly specific details of every single moment of our lives. We waste precious moments determining the eligibility of a picture, a few words to sum up the hour, contemplating the ramifications of our actions. We fear that our posts will be misinterpreted – that we will irrevocably tarnish the image we have so meticulously created for ourselves. Like Dr. Frankenstein, we are highly protective of our young monsters. There is a fine line, we know, between slutty and sexy, between scholarly and nerdy, between The Wild Girl and That Girl, between family-centered and pathetic, between weird and crazy, between admirable and annoying. We analyze the cyber actions of our conquests, judge our competition and dream-up events and emotions with little proof. We take this information and let our imagination wreak havoc upon it: create situations and arguments in our heads, and the next day we baffle the victim with the silent treatment. We lie awake at night, stomach tied up in knots, beads of sweat dotting our hairlines – trying to keep from shaking in an effort to sum up the courage to indulge the furious glowing screen. With the limitless capabilities of our keyboards, we map out our futures, setting goals, and doing favors, praying that some day it will all be worth it, and we will be everything we ever hoped. Hoping that they’ll all see the series of frozen images and will be fooled by the plastered smiles, the contrived laughter in each staged moment. We hope that they won’t look too closely at our faces and bodies when they see us in person, and will instead be content to stare at the version of ourselves we chose to reveal, in neatly labeled folders with creative captions of irrelevant song lyrics. We are the Cyber-Generation, and we are waging a war with imperfection.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. I stare at my smiling face on the computer screen. I flip through pictures, viewing myself as someone else would see me, blind to the moments that I was vulnerable and afraid, when I was angry and upset, and when I was so happy, so incredibly in love with my life and the world, so caught up in the moment that I hadn’t remembered to document it. And I realize that if I wanted people to truly understand who I was through these pictures, I would have to capture the invisible.
Because there are some things that you can’t just make people understand. Even with the perfect picture, or the best filter, or even the most appropriate song lyrics. And even if you try, you’ll find that petty “likes” and pointless comments will cheapen your perception of the moment.
Sometimes even words aren’t enough. Even when they’re coming straight from your heart. Even if you spell them all correctly and you follow all the rules of grammar and you resist the urge to use a cute emoji or hashtag.
Some things you can only feel to the greatest intensity within your soul – alone. These feeling will take hold of your heart, set it on fire, and you may feel yourself lifting slowly to the Heavens. You will want to share this moment of joy with the world.
Put down the phone. Unplug. Disconnect.
Today we have this unbelievably desperate drive to appear different, to set ourselves apart from others and to prove to everyone that we are a great person who is dealing with and has been through very different things. We feel the need to share these things with the world so that if we are caught doing something that contradicts the perfect image we have created for ourselves, we can reinforce the preferred image and make them forget.
But I promise you, it doesn’t matter.
People, in the end will see what they want to see. So why get worked up over it? Be yourself, and look out for the people who understand you #aunaturale. Have the courage to be alone with the total reality of everything that you are and give yourself a thumbs up: you are an incredible person, courageous enough to get to know yourself off screen.