I DARE YOU TO READ THIS –  

Jan. 2, 2022 – The following week, on a day trip to Sandbridge Beach, further insight was revealed to me. Sitting in a colorful chair, root beer in hand, an urge came to post a picture of my sandy legs, ocean waves parenthesized by my splayed feet, a book of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry between them. In other words, excellent fodder for Instagram.

But devoid of any outlet for this imagined photo, questions about the purpose of social media content were illuminated. Who was I creating this for, and why? Did it matter that I was reading Ginsberg on the beach? Why would anyone need to know? Most importantly, why would I interrupt such a sublime pursuit to broadcast it? 

I realized social media was not making my life better. The content I was creating was reducing the finer moments of my life to a spectacle, causing me to partake in the act of living through a performative lens. 

When I quit drinking, life did not immediately get better. I had to rediscover the things drinking had supplanted or prevented me from ever having found in the first place. With social media, the fallout has been less steep; the primary consequence was that I was not paying full attention to the life I was living. Instead, I was feeding off small dopamine hits the way a pet hamster might suckle his water straw — a caged life. 

I never blamed alcohol for where life took me in my mid-20s, when I hit rock bottom. In that same vein, social media is not entirely to blame for my spending multiple hours a day using it. However, for me, social media precipitated a disengagement from the true bounty of living, while cheaply repurposing some of life’s most beautiful moments into online content. 

I want better for myself. I do not wish to distract myself from life. I do not profess to have all the answers, only what works for me. I know that what I am looking for, the true quality in life, doesn’t reside in the bottom of a bottle or the glass of a phone screen.

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