I know the comment on a blog post came from a spambot. Still, it felt personal.
“The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you’d have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.”
I don’t have what has come to be called an adrenaline addiction. I don’t thrive on stress. It makes me want to eat a whole bag of wavy potato chips in one sitting, then turtle under the bedcovers until tomorrow comes.
But the fake commenter’s experience of investing time in reading, believing that something good will turn up, and leaving disappointed? I know that feeling.
I might have a touch of what has come to be called an addiction, repeating something for the rush I think it will give me. And I go there even when it is consistently disappointing, as if grazing at an endless buffet and feeling filled up but never satisfied.
It’s partly wanting to be swift in conversation. Did someone comment on my post? I must answer! It’s partly gratification: Wow, thirty likes on that photo already. And it’s partly something like social anxiety: I might miss something.
Well, I will miss things. There’s no one who never misses a thing. There are just too many things. So it’s healthy to ask, What am I missing right here because I’m checking there so I don’t miss something?
As the week began, I started a vacation from the behemoth of social media. “Taking a break from this place,” I wrote. “If you need me, email still works. Peace.” I privately asked a few friends to nudge me if they saw me there.
Did I miss llamas on the lam, or a dress that made half of America question whether the other half is out of touch with reality? Did I miss some really good cat videos? I can live a rich and full life without them. What I’m testing is life without the steady buffet of stuff people think I should read, and—touché, spambot—the steady buzz from people affirming my words and pictures.
It’s early in this experiment. But not too early to tell what I already knew but needed to be reminded experientially, bodily: that an hour spent reading a book feels better than an hour spent on serial clickbait. And the aftertaste of a quick hour of scrolling can be cleansed by a slow hour of strolling.
We’re writing our way through a self-care series. You can find the list of prompts and publication dates here. Have something to say? Please join us. Simply drop a link to your blog in a comment on the corresponding post as long as comments remain open.