Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reality T.V. Ruined the Internet (AKA Calm Down Kids - Life is a Wonderful Thing).

Sitting here in the dark, legs crossed, Cat Stevens playing in the background on repeat, I'm grinning. My mom's asleep, and the house is quiet, and somewhere in the living room the Christmas tree is glittering, peaceful and stoic. Right about now, I'm wishing I had lights to string across the walls of my bedroom; it's too dark to see much of anything, but here I am. Just sitting and grinning and fumbling with the keyboard, and thinking...

Why is it that so few of the teenagers I know are able to find any meaning in the world around them?

Why do people spend so much of their time wallowing in their petty little dramas? Mulling over things that don't matter?

Why is it that every time I log-in to Twitter, or Tumblr, or BlogSpot, I'm forced to read through a list of "woe is me" posts about how life is just so difficult, and how they're just not over him/her and it's breaking their heart, and oh god, what's the point of even being alive?
"I can't take it anymore.
It hurts too much.
I can't go on without him/her in my life.
I'm broken.

A part of me just wants to take a walk down Main Street and plaster a bunch of signs around town that say:
Attention Teenagers Currently Residing on Planet Earth,
If you have a personal problem, broken heart, issue with somebody, low self-esteem, or any other form of angst you may be dealing with, please refrain from broadcasting it on the internet!

Because I don't need to be reading that; I don't want to see any of that. And the fact of the matter is, neither does the rest of the world, no matter how many friends or followers or subscribers you may have.

The fact of the matter is, the internet, which is something anyone at any time can gain access to, should not be the place for people to spill their deepest secrets and troubles onto, but for some reason, it's just become burned into everyone's brain that it's perfectly acceptable. That the world really does care that you broke up with your boyfriend, and yes, it really is necessary to explain in-depth how painful of an ordeal it was and how you're choosing to cope with it by sitting alone all night drinking and waking up trashed and depressed the next morning.

Thank you for sharing, now invest in a diary.

But my biggest question is, when did it become a "trend" to be self-loathing? If somebody were to come up with a list of all of the "teenage fads" that are present in today's society, it would be right up there with black hair dye and long bangs; tight pants and punk bands that all sound exactly the same; bisexuality and dark make-up; complaining and being sad; self-mutilation; cutting. It's all intertwined. And for a long time, I've kind of been sitting around wondering why all of this is, and how it all got started, and I've since come to a conclusion that has probably been staring me in the face since I started analyzing the situation.

Reality T.V.
Or possibly even TV in general.

Our society loves to see damaged people; it's what has shaped television into what it is today. Just a constant parade of psychologically damaged individuals being showcased and exploited in front of a big camera for everyone to watch and compare themselves to. I mean let's face it, nobody wants to watch a show about normal people living normal, everyday lives, because that's just not interesting. We want to see the brilliant, misanthropic doctor who pops Vicodin and routinely berates his patients; we want to see the ultra-skinny model break down and cry after being told she wasn't pretty enough to be on the cover of CoverGirl magazine. The abused housewife being interviewed on Oprah. The drug addict, the drama queen, the teenage mother.

And every minute of every day, people are watching this and thinking well, this must be what life is really like. This must be what I'm supposed to be feeling and thinking and acting like. They don't get that it's scripted; that the fight Snookie and whoever the hell else is on Jersey Shore got into was staged, just like what happens on The Hills, and America's Next Top Model, and any of the other mindless drivel being displayed on television today. Our sense of reality is being blurred and distorted by the fictional images on the screen in front of us.

We see people pour out their personal lives and problems on TV, so we assume we should do the same on the internet. We twist our thoughts and feelings to fit what the media portrays as "normal," and assume that we're more damaged than we really are.
We're drama queens.
Attention addicts.

And I'm just grinning like a Cheshire cat at the absurdity of it all. 

I just want everyone to step out from under this massive illusion and realize that there's more to life than the things that make us unhappy. There's more to life than complaining and hurting and crying over insignificant things that won't matter a month or a week or even ten minutes from now.

It's not even so much the fact that people are using the internet to complain that really bothers me; yes, it's obnoxious and frustrating and completely unnecessary. That's already been established. No, what I can't stand more than anything else is people who take being alive for granted.

It's the kids crying behind their computer screens typing "I just want to die."
It's the depressed, broken-hearted 15-teen-year-old telling all of his Twitter followers, "Give me a reason to live."

You're here, buddy. There's your reason.
For some unforeseen reason, all the cosmic forces of the Universe came together one day and decided to plant you on Earth and give you the ability to breathe air and harmonize and exist. That's justification enough.

We're so incredibly lucky to be here, why can't teenagers seem to grasp that? There's so much out there in the world beyond your nasty break-up, or your insecurities, or little internal struggles; there are so many lovely things in reality that can give us hope and make us happy and give us meaning, joy, love. We have birds and music, and other people; art, laughter, Walmart, lunar eclipses. There's oceans and sunshine and Harold and Maude; holidays and celebrations, two-for-one deals at Target, wiener dogs, rain, chocolate milkshakes, and Harry Potter. Lessons to learn and things to think about.

That's why I can just sit here, alone in the middle of the night with an ipod and the lights off, and just laugh. Because I don't want to cheat myself out of life by drowning in negativity and making myself out to be anything less than what I am. I'm just a spec in the middle of this whole big, puzzling, wonderful Universe, so I might as well make the best of it.

There will always be a reason to live, but you won't find it on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook. So open your eyes wide, and really look for it.

"Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. . . LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room."
- Maude, Harold and Maude.