There seems to be a sharp misfire of synapses happening in the collective brain of millennial writers, and I’m part of the problem.
In a world of click-bait garbage, writing has become yet another monster of mass marketing/advertising. One could suggest that maybe it’s always been this way, but I’m suggesting that, perhaps, the fluff, puff, and stuff of modern literature is actually a culture not living up to their potential. My generation’s ability to communicate the true struggle of the now is totally lacking. Why is that? What even is our honest struggle?
I think that the truly horrifying reality is the idea that we might not figure it out until it’s too late. The magnificently shitty thing about being a writer is that you don’t really know what you are contributing to the zeitgeist until time passes you by. You’re suddenly seventy-five years old trying to decide which type of Depends underwear fits your aesthetic; meanwhile the zeitgeist shifts ever onward.
Let’s back up.
Why are writers these days so gut-wrenchingly awful? Maybe it’s because we aren’t being honest. In order to be honest we have to connect. In order to connect you have to open up. In order to open up, you need to feel safe. Do we feel safe to be honest if our name is connected to our words? History shows us that opinions can change, so maybe one day our opinion will no longer exist in the same way. Maybe the common threads of the right now, things that aren’t presently taboo, will suddenly become so? How foolish will we look then?
In a world of blatant over-sharing, is anyone actually sharing anything of worth? Why does the friend that loves to post about her dog constantly post about her idiot dog? Why doesn’t she write about how she uses her dog, one of many things, to distract her from the pain of never fully falling in love with herself? Why does she choose that color nail polish? Why does she not feel my anguish over her simple, nonsensical, and happy life?
Distractions are the focus of our entire world, and it’s a very small place to live. Distract from the pain, distract from an inevitable death, distract from the stimuli that surrounds us. I personally believe in order to be a good writer, you need to be unhealthily introspective.
The dark truth is good writers are often depressed, anxiety ridden, and truly garbage people.
A good writer looks at themselves dead in the eye on a daily basis and says, “Fuck you,” to the person throwing up last night’s wine in the sink. They realize they are hypocrites while trying to figure out why they do the horrible things every human being does. Writers look at others and wonder the same thing about their actions.
Being a loner that thinks too much isn’t fun. It’s not fun to question yourself or question existence. It’s easy to post about how much fun you’re having at your friend’s dog’s 3rd birthday party. It’s fun see yourself in Facebook uploads other people took of you at that same party.
The deepest that anyone seems to want to go is to lament a failed relationship or graze upon the shallow pools of graduating to another year older. Even more so, writers will get stuck in a rut where their merry go round misery party becomes the only thing that they can write about, and that becomes so damn exhausting. It’s boring. There is so much to write about than your inability to write about them. There are so many perspectives to consider, so many different realities simultaneously coexisting all right now, right here on this planet.
But oh no, Taylor Swift is moving on to the next man. Why can’t she just find the one and settle down? Dear god tell us why, help us figure out her new enigma! Just ignore me while I stand up here on my soap box and act like I have all the answers (I don’t have the answers).
I know I am part of the problem. I salivate over celebrity gossip like it’s the only thing worth paying attention to. I read click-bait articles and pretend like I’m better than the general audience that it panders to (as I click the endless “next” button that loads a fresh page of ads and two sentences of content). I am a lazy, apathetic writer that moonlights as a perfectionist. Those three combinations give me this illusion that I have so many fantastic ideas. However, I rarely write them down or put any effort to share my thoughts. Yet today I am putting my natural inclinations aside, to shine a light on a problem that I think needs to be rectified (even though I don’t know how to rectify it).
All that being said, I’ll start first. You follow.