I’ve been pondering lately, as I sometimes do. I’ve been feeling grouchy, as I sometimes am, and so I began pondering the way that moping makes one semi-invisible online. FB’s algorithms censor downer posts, Twitter moves so fast that few notice, and blogs? Well. I know how few people ever see this one. Sometimes that semi-invisibility is a positive thing. It’s useful.
Like this. Only with more wall.
I find it oddly comforting during phases like the one I’m sliding towards lately, when I’m loaded down with unhappiness that I want to unload but can’t objectively justify. Sometimes unhappiness is like that, and honestly, it shouldn’t need validation. It happens, like bruises happen. Being unhappy online is the modern equivalent of shouting into the depths of a well, or crying on the street. Public catharsis, but mostly undisturbed.
Common wisdom counsels against my self-indulgence. It holds that social media offer a showcase where people should make their lives look awesome. Successes can be trumpeted. High points shared. But as in the real world these days, where the only proper answer to “how are you?” is “great!” only major life events and socially significant negatives are accepted as legitimate ripples in the triumphant newsfeed. Studies have demonstrated the spread of this practice. Relentless up-ness is the norm, online. Ayup. I am aware of all that, but in this realm, as in many others, I’m an outlier.
Contrary to common practice, my persona isn’t a best-case identity that details only the positives in my life and proclaims the perfection of my existence. It is me. Lumps, bumps, bouts of fragile humanity, unprofessionalism and all. I don’t wear makeup, dress for success, or hide my feelings in the real world. Why on earth would I be anything but my unvarnished rough self online? I wouldn’t. Others may show what they wish. I show me. Deceit makes me itch, and only showing the ups without the downs, the highs without the lows, feels deceitful for me.
This is not to say that positive thinking and positive presentation don’t work for others. I can see that they do. Some can turn away from darkness and drive it back by soaking in the light. That’s a good system. It’s an affirming one, and an inclusive one. I can admire it, in the way I admire an art piece of a style that does not speak to my soul. It can be good without being good for me.
It can also become damaging cruelty.
Too many of those who work the sunny side of the street see it as the only side and evangelize with the passion of the converted. It’s become uncouth to be unhappy. Correcting, criticizing, and lecturing people who don’t cope using the accepted mantra of “just let it go” has become a self-righteous entitlement.
Here’s a sincere warning to anyone who feels compelled to say, “just don’t dwell on it,” or “don’t focus on the bad” or “concentrate on the positives” over and over to me, regarding any topic I confess to finding frustrating or depressing, I seriously will unfriend or block all shared media. Because fuck that bullshit. Shining the light of happythink on my dark places throws them into high relief and makes them impenetrable and undefeatable. I need that kind of help like I need a sharp stick in the eye.
Venting unhappiness before it explodes is letting it go. Draining an abcess of pain is letting it go. Expressing anger is letting it go. Not for everyone, no, but for me it is the only way to prevent the poison from sinking in and damaging me further. I will let it go like a ton of bricks, right on the head of anyone who devalues the power of negative emotions and experiences because those things make them uncomfortable.