Solitude

Existing in a twilight zone of no news or any sort of information proved to be more like torture and less like an enlightening spiritual awakening. Upon further examinations of my emotions and anxieties, I exemplified all the symptoms that FULL NAME Deresiewicz depicts are seen in the contemporary generation.

I, like most people my age, fill up moments of nothing with social media apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I post stories and tweets and continuously check back to see how many likes my posts have or who has watched my story. As Deresiewicz mentioned, “this is how we become real to ourselves – by being seen by others.” When I had to abandon “being seen by others”, I felt left behind and invisible. My anxieties were tied to feeling like the world had forgotten I existed because I was not posting. I worried about missing memes, missing important headlines, missing out on moments to chime in on important conversations, and missing out on becoming a “miniature celebrity.” In the first twenty-four hours, I would longingly stare at the apps and attempt to rationalize why I needed to open them. I noticed that in awkward situations, I would instinctively pull out my phone and try to open the apps to appear social. I was attempting to “maintain the imaginative presence of others” as if having virtual “friends” would make me seem less awkward and more socially acceptable. Being withdrawn from social media helped me realize that it was more of a clutch rather than a form of passive entertainment that I could open and close upon demand. GOOD.

As per usual, I found myself being incredibly bored and restless. Deresiewicz was correct in defining boredom as “the negative experience of [having nothing to do].” In order to combat this negative experience, I spent most of my time sleeping. I attempted to hibernate the forty-eight hours away because I could not handle not being stimulated by the usual hundreds of messages that are usually flashing my way. My brain felt numb and useless without information to process. And just as Deresiewicz predicted, I was “terrified of being bored” and fought off the urge to “turn on the television.” Just like the apps, I would stare at the off television and imagined what kind of images could be playing. My desire to be consumed with something led to a massive spring-cleaning of my bedroom and although I could not turn on the television, I desired to turn it on and leave it on as background noise. I suppose this need was due to my desire to stave off “the grief over [the] absence [of company].”

Upon going through this experiment, I have concluded that news intrudes on solitude and sucks us into the continuous need to be stimulated as well as social. News feeds us the information that we need to be aware about the world around us and it allows us to create our own perceptions of the world. However, news forces us to create a world around devices that enable us to create constant connections to other people without ever allowing for a “mental space that is not social.”

GOOD.

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