By Katherine Szekely on Sunday, September 11, 2016
“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”- Midnight in Paris
I consistently find myself falling into the trap of browsing. It’s an addicting and, frankly, bad habit that is nearly impossible to break. Like the masses, in any spare moment that my mind finds me ‘bored,’ I pull out whatever electronic device is closest, pull up whatever social media site suits my monkey mind, and browse.
Browse. Ugh, what a hideous word made for the sole purpose of legitimizing triviality. Like window shopping, browsing is a way to look for all the missing accouterments in one’s life. One can find a need for pretty much anything if one stares at it for long enough. From a handbag, to a trip to Thailand, to a more flattering photo stance, the Internet is proud to show me that I am certainly not enough to showcase to virtual society. Apparently, compared to everyone else in my social media circle, my life is completely devoid of the epicness it seems everyone else is living.
Now, that’s not entirely true. Occasionally, I post a picture that receives 87 likes and I am, for that moment in the space-time continuum, immortal. And what a blissful feeling! People are looking at me! People are jealous of me! People want what I have! This taste of having value satiates (briefly) the pangs of loneliness while whetting the palate for me. And like the sweetest opiate in the world, I am hooked.
Shortly thereafter, the browsing begins again. Thumb through, thumb through, Like. Thumb through, thumb through, pause. Look. Feel the green flame of jealousy tickle the solar plexus. Go to the profile. Lap up their pictures until finding one that pacifies the fear that this person has somehow found some way to live fulfilled and purposefully by the tender age of 23. Then, assuaged by their abject humanness, click off the device and momentarily rest assured that ones life must be infinitely better.
What an ugly way to live. If one can call it living. It’s like that feeling one gets when visiting the zoo: am I observing the monkeys, or is this some warped reality where they are watching me and I am the fool to believe that I’m not the one behind bars? So, we peer in at the strange beasts of each other and laugh and point and criticize and then walk away to the next exhibit, loftily thinking that somehow evolution has favored moi. But, that little tug in the gut keeps the thoughts nagging that, somehow, that the Other is doing it better. And that’s when the advertisements come it.
Oooooo, they have it down to a science! Just when that feeling of pathetic-ness creeps into the spleen, BAM! Just the product that one needs to fill that crack-in-the-wall pops onto the screen. It really is lovely. And a small price to pay when one considers that this will be the last thing one has to purchase to become a demigod. So it’s bought and shipped and worn for two glorious minutes of achievement (and, of course, photographed for the monkeys to ogle and purchase for themselves), then abruptly thrown into the donation bag and deleted from ones life permanently. And, like Clark Griswald acting the National Lampoon, trying to plug up the Hoover Dam with chewing gum, the futile attempt to capitalize oneself into samadhi epically fails again.
How many dollars must one give out in order to, once and for all, stop the onslaught of feelings that this thing we created is wrong, failing, and a trap?! The greatest paradox of modern society is that it tries to attain simplicity through the most complex means. In order to reach a state of contentment with no-thing, we attempt it through means of acquiring every-thing. Isn’t the definition of a psychopath one who repeats same action expecting different results? But, I suppose if everyone is a psychopath, then no one is.
So, browse away, world. Keep looking and looking and looking without every truly seeing. Hunger for that which you can’t and won’t have. Devour every remedy without ever really knowing the cause. And convince the world that you, my friend, are epic.