I hate the pressures of social media—to express your view and then hit send. Do you know how many times overthinkers like me feel the weight of our somewhat insignificant words before pressing ‘send’? I hate curating my image on Instagram; yet, I do it like I don’t have a choice. So when this year college moved to a platform that I mainly used to perform, education felt like a choice easy to stray away from.
I moved four times during the pandemic, lugging my stuff in a 15kg suitcase and my life in a 5kg laptop case. Somedays, I crouched over the screen, scribbling away in a notebook, desperately trying to give meaning to the lectures I would hear. Somedays, I would lie down and stare sideways at the class, living in a completely different dimension. I’ve seen Social Dilemma, and I’m sure something was churning and shifting in my brain for the worse; but, it was the physical signs that cut away at my invincibility. I turned 20 on a Sunday with burning eyes, a sore neck, and too little or too much sleep. Those were all fixable things; but, I preferred to curse at the “system” and sulk about how I was stuck with my laptop. She was a terrible companion, built to fulfill my every need. I used and abused her, and all she did in defense was passive-aggressively hiss out hot air.
It was the codependency that irked me. How I needed her all the time and she didn’t need me at all. Maybe it was an ego thing, human versus robot. I made compromises with her—even gave up binging movies for a while, so that two hours of a class wouldn’t just be something to sit through. I learned to crochet and take care of plants. I picked up books again. I gave us some space. But it was a slow and painful process.
At a point, at least half among 1.2 billion people were out of classrooms. All I saw online were people thriving. I wanted that for me and when it didn’t happen immediately, I “knew” that I was failing. Because if you’re not thriving, then you can only be failing. I still have days where I cling to all my devices. I, still at times, blame my laptop for my mood swings; and give my phone the silent treatment. I hate all the “technology is rotting our brains” articles. I hate self-help books and their know-it-all attitude and their “told you so” language; but I have been secretly working on my mindset…learning to unburden myself of the weight of networked dependency. It’s becoming something close to a guilty pleasure.
(Image linked is a still life artwork by Anna Valdez)