Live Free or Die Staring at My Computer Screen

Today, I spent 7 hours lying on my couch in terrible posture watching a man cut a goat’s head in half and eat the brains on the National Geographic channel. When my dog, Cooper, barked at me to signal that 1. I was watching T.V. for too long, and 2. it was time for his nightly walk, I groaned and dragged him around the block quickly in the 65-degree mid-November air so I could find out if the couple bee-keeping successfully moved the swarm to the new home. Essentially, I avoided nature so I could watch people live “off the land” in some show entitled “Live Free or Die”.

When I last left off on this blog, I was doing the same thing, just getting by. Living? Depends on who’s asking. Sure, wonderful things have happened in the past few months: I’ve found a (seasonal) job at LUSH Cosmetics that I am eager to start, I’ve seen my best college friends roughly 5 times since we graduated, my family and I seem to be on good terms, I’m able-bodied and from what I can tell, healthy. But am I living?

This seems to be the cliché question many people ask during existential crises, but I’m serious. I spent all day today indoor watching the outdoors instead of being outside. Period cramps and headache aside, I should’ve enjoyed the weather a bit, maybe soaked up some Vitamin D.

As of right now, I dread checking my emails, knowing I have passed deadlines on assignments I can’t gain energy to do. I hate logging on here even to write this, because I’m sure afterward I’ll watch some British YouTuber decorate their home with Christmas lights or give me a tour of their closet. My best friend will send me a Vine on Facebook messenger, someone will like a picture on Instagram I posted from a concert I went to a week ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love technology. I love being socially connected to people; it helps me remember how loved I am, and how good people can be to each other with all the viral videos of people helping each other my Facebook shares with me 24/7.

In the wake of the tragedies in Paris and Beirut, the earthquake in Japan, and the social injustices at Mizzou, I’ve felt more than ever that I need to just turn off my computer and fold into myself. It’s not that I don’t care; I care too much. I want everyone to be okay and live harmoniously. But being reminded by Facebook, tumblr, twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Google that I’m not doing “enough” by not changing my profile picture to one filtered with the French flag makes me want to scream. Does me not engaging on every internet platform somehow translate to me not giving a shit?

I logged out of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter last week for three days. When I came back I had enough notifications that made me want to delete my social media forever. It was too much. Too much caring and feeling. Too much for me to take in all at once. Now, I’m honestly considering it. The only thing keeping me anchored to these platforms is the fear that no one will be willing to pick up a phone and call me unless they see tagged pictures of me floating right in front of their faces. And I get it, I’d do the same for them.

How does this couple with the program showing me a man eating a goat’s head? It’s what one man, who has been living on the land for over 20 years, said. Colbert built three different homes for himself in the swamps of Georgia. His cabin, the main home he had, was destroyed in a fire. Despite the 20 years of work he put into it, he was able to collect some of his possessions from the literal ashes and say, “It was a sign that I was becoming too materialistic again. Things cycle through; it’s time to rebuild.” Then, he went on to try and rebuild his home using reclaimed wood and tin roofing from his past home.

Colbert had a point. I’ve been too materialistic, especially with technology. Heaven forbid I log out of Facebook for a week, right?

I guess these ideas have been swirling in my head a lot lately. Leading up to getting a job, I was jealous of my friends posting their new jobs, their new clothes, their ideas all over the internet. But I wouldn’t have been if I wasn’t watching it all unfold through my computer screen. I’ll even admit, the jealousy was misplaced given how little I was actually trying to better myself– I was just watching through a screen. What was I gaining from watching others do things I couldn’t get out of bed to even try for?

There have been so many instances of people doing so much for others (and themselves) without access to the internet. My mom mailed some fabric to a 90-something year old woman who sews 3 dresses a day for little girls in Africa and Haiti. “It’s not like I’m doing anything with it,” my mom said. A few weeks later, the woman sent my mom a card thanking her so much for her help. She even asked for my mom’s phone number so she could talk on the phone.

See? Helping! Something Facebook didn’t force anyone to do! Someone not focused on the (literal) material of their lives.

I thought about this yesterday, too. My aunt hosted an estate sale for her mother-in-law. Without boring anyone with details, there was a lawsuit, they didn’t get a lot when she passed, etc., etc. It still led up to an estate sale/garage sale with household items my aunt couldn’t part with, even though she didn’t have enough room in her house. It was better to her to have stuff than to part with anything. And dear god, did the woman have STUFF. I get it…ask me about the library in my closet my mom keeps begging me to get rid of yet I refuse.

Maybe something I should do is detach from materialism a bit. Logging out of social media, or even staying away from my computer, for a start. I could read some of the books I have stacked in my closet, or donate them. Maybe it’s time for me, like Colbert, to rebuild.

Hunter

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Hunter Parsons

Lover of air plants, chocolate chip cookies, and poetry.

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