IT was happening again. I was scrolling, scrolling, scrolling (cue Rawhide theme song), and it was stopping me dead in my tracks. Whenever I thought I had seen all I could see of Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram, I would hit refresh or pull down on the phone screen, and a whole new host of images would pop up to further drug me.
Numb. That's how I feel when I am online for too long. I get stuck in place, and my hand just keep scrolling, looking for that next hit. And God help me if I've posted something. Then it's checking... and checking... and checking... to see who's liked it, who's commented, who's re-pinning, who's interacting with me.
I'm looking for love in all the wrong places again. And it's not just online. I find myself wandering the aisles of the co-op, looking for the perfect lunch, the snack that will make it all better. Somehow, even when we are behind on bills and I am freaking out about money, I can find the funds to feed my love of fancy groceries.
This is not a serious addiction. I'm functioning. I get up and put on my clothes, I feed the dog and the cats and the child, I go to work, I come home again. Meals get cooked. Laundry gets washed.
But under it all, I'm longing, and searching, and sad. And so I scroll.
Does it happen to you, too? Are you scrolling, and feeling the weight of the feed settling on your shoulders and your heart?
And when all that weight starts settling in, isn't it hard to move?
We are crushed by consumption in the western world. We are crushed by expectations and information. We are crushed by systematic oppression and a deep longing for BE-longing.
We want to belong. To BE ALONG with others.
So we take it in. Others' images. Others' ideas, values, hopes, dreams, thoughts, commands, questions. Others' perfection and promises. Their playrooms, schoolrooms, organizational tips, make-up looks, clothing choices. Their knitting projects. Their birthday parties.
We wake it in, and let it weigh us down.
Sometimes that's okay. Sometimes it's what we need. But in my case, today, it's not. It's hurting me. I can feel myself getting stuck and fearful.
Remember how, in the movie Labyrinth, Sarah finds herself in her room, and the little old woman keeps handing her things -- her teddy bear, her dresses, her music box, all her favorites -- and at first, Sarah accepts them? And then, she starts to feel the weight of all these things, all the stuff, holding her down. Binding her. Trapping her. And she screams, "It's all junk!" and the walls come crashing down.
It's not really junk -- her memories, her favorite things, they aren't junk -- but these aren't really her things. They're substitutes and simulcra, fakes and approximations. Sarah wants to complete her quest, to rescue her baby brother from the Goblin King (oh, David Bowie!!! sigh...) and get back to the real thing.
How do we get back to the real thing?
The antidote to consumption is not necessarily destruction or disposal. It might be deleting all your social media accounts and magazine subscriptions, but it might not be.
For me, the antidote is creation.
You can tweet that, twitterers. The antidote to consumption is creation.
This is not a new idea. I'm not the inventor. In fact, I feel like a late adopter in many ways. I've spent my adult life surrounded by Waldorf-types who are always knitting and painting and creating amazing things for their students and offspring, and by artists, who are always making and trying and creating and tinkering.
KonMari your house.
Walk the dog.
Hug someone for at least 10 whole seconds.
Fix the squeaking door that's been driving you mad for months.
And when even that is too much? When you can't start to do anything? Just one, tiny movement. Make tea.
Walk over to the door, open it, and take a deep breath. Then close the door.
Clear off one square foot of space on a surface that is loaded with shoulds and musts and have-tos.
Take one picture, of anything. Don't share it.
The antidote is creation. That's why I'm writing this post today. That's why I'm going to work on my little storytelling school and my coaching sales page (because I really, really want to work with you). I am building and creating and doing something, to counteract the poison of inertia.
I am continuing my quest.
I am flinging away the fakes and the almost-reals, and grabbing onto this life, my life.
And I'll still check, to see if you read this, to see if you like it, share it, post it, pin it. Because I'm human, and I long for connection and belonging. I long to know that I am speaking words that will be heard. And I am longing to hear that I am speaking to you, to your heart. And I hope it helps.
And not just our creation -- stepping out into the wonder of nature, even on days like this, when it's -20 degrees F. Seeing the sun on the snow, and feeling the frost as I breath in that icy air. That re-connects me to the real, to the true, to the beautiful.
Let's stop scrolling, and start making and sharing from our hearts and our hearths, from our pens and paintbrushes, our feet and hands and voices. Social media can be a place of intense beauty and collaboration, but it needs YOUR voice, your true beauty, your contribution.
That's how we take back our power, and our voices, and our lives. Through creation. Through collaboration. Through lifting up the voices of those who are pressing us forward to finer, truer things.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I coach waldorf moms and other sparkly unicorns, helping them find wonder, ease, and contentment. I write about parenting, storytelling, and about living a life with stories.