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Some thoughts on performative lives

Monday 9/20/21

Something worth keeping in mind, I think--or never losing sight of.


I was thinking about this young couple with their van trip and the tragic ending to a young woman's life in Wyoming. I was thinking about how they documented their relationship--lived it, after a fashion--online for strangers. And that people who didn't know these people, who weren't doing anything out of the ordinary, anything of any particular interest, intelligence, substance, were "following" them. Tuning in. Watching.


What one should always remember is that nothing on social media is real. You're not seeing anyone's real life. You're not seeing their real thoughts. Their real language. Anything. Someone might say to me, well, why do you have Twitter? I'm not really bringing you into my life, as in, here's a photo of me eating a sundae, with my Twitter. I'm letting people into my mind, which is, obviously, a different mind. And I'm striking no poses. I have things to say, and things of value. I offer things to people. I'm giving. I'm not building up a sense of self based upon "likes."


But that is what almost everyone else does. These were two people in an awful, dysfunctional relationship. A toxic relationship. A relationship at a level of life and death. Think about that. Would they even have been together without social media? When it was just them? Two people trying to make a relationship work. Without any like button. Without the empty, fake commendation of strangers. Whose lives are equally empty, bleak, isolated.


Isolation is not the same as "alone." Isolation is far, far worse. You can be isolated living at home with your family of five. Isolation is when you don't even have yourself. I'm alone. I'm not isolated. I have me. I know what matters. I understand myself. I understand my value. I know what I stand for. I'm lonely, yes, of course, but I hope I won't always be this lonely. I will have that particular loneliness of not having anything in common with someone. I'm just so different from any other human. But that doesn't mean I could never be with someone who is great, who helps contribute to my happiness, as I contribute to hers.


Something I will never do, though, if that's ever the case, is live out any portion of that relationship on social media. I will always do this journal. I'll be doing this journal if I become the best known person in the world, with more money than I could ever burn. Because I'll still be me, I'll still be growing, I'll still be creating. And I think I would have elements of my most significant relationship come up in these pages, because it's a journal. But it's never performative.


When your life is entirely performative, you can die. You can die all kinds of ways. And you will. It's inevitable. You definitely die mentally. You die emotionally. You die spiritually. You die intellectually. You die psychologically, certainly. And you can die physically.


I see these two unhealthy people, and they obviously weren't together because of what they brought to the good to their respective lives. They were together for poses. For photo opportunities. For the approval of strangers. Think about that. Those strangers didn't care about these people. I think if you follow people you don't know, who aren't adding anything to your life, to your growth, to how you see the world, to how you think, then you're not someone who cares about anything. I don't think you're capable of truly caring about anything.


You've helped shape yourself into a person that's not a person. Our culture rewards this. It rewards mental illness. It rewards dangerous relationships and dangerous lives. It rewards depression. It rewards self-medication and hiding all of the truth, all of the pain, all of the reality, away. How does it reward these things? By platforming them. By platforming people who can't live with themselves, who have no inner lives. People who have no internal peace. They get followers. Attention.


And we look at these things as indications of...what? Success. Appeal. Goodness. Value. Entertainment. Significance. Worthiness. We actually think that people who are thus platformed are better than those who are not. Think of how utterly insane that is. That's our world. And that that is our world, is what helped kill this young woman. And I know, there is more to it than that, and the boyfriend is likely the murderer, and no one needs to defend or look away from what evils are rampant with toxic masculinity. I prefer to let the facts come out first. But these are truths. This is why we are unwell. This is why most people you know are unwell. This is why they can't face anything. It's so hard to live a lie. It's so hard to never be yourself. To never be yourself such that you don't even know who you are. Such that no one in the entire world knows you. It's like not being there. It's like being a ghost. But a ghost with a costume. And you always have to have your costume close by.


That's death. Living or dead, that's death. That's death without the transfer of your energy into another place, another space. It's really the worst way, just about, to be technically alive. And it's what most people opt for.