On “Invisible Progress” In the Age of Social Media: Your Followers Don’t Care That You Finally Did Laundry and Didn’t Cry Yourself to Sleep Last Night
I like making shit.
And writing shit.
But I’m acutely aware that the process of creation has, for me, become inextricably fused with the act of instantly sharing it for external validation. And some things — often the most important things, though they tend not to seem that way — are incapable of broadcast. Or, if they somehow are, it seems it would nevertheless be unwise, because the intrinsic value of these acts would prove to be lost in translation and pixelization.
To be clear, I’m talking about accomplishments that fall under the umbrella of “distinctly un-fun self-care,” i.e. removing the human-and-cat hair clot from the bathtub drain, folding a single article of clothing at long last, paying bills — whatever those are. The tasks I (and, perhaps, you) spend all day — or week or month or life — avoiding. For me, one of the most prominent reasons for this task-shirking is that I feel like I should — somehow — be able to just skip all of that boring shit and get to the more palpably impressive achievements.
Which reminds me of something my sponsor related to me recently. When she was first getting sober, she was informed that maintaining sobriety is “the most important thing” she’ll ever do. At this, my sponsor scoffed. Surely, she thought, getting a show at a gallery in Chelsea or launching her own clothing line or buying a studio apartment were of far greater magnitude than abstinence from substances. But now, with a few years of clean time under her patent-leather-and-O-ring belt, she has come around to acknowledging that without the perhaps seemingly banal foundation of sobriety, those deceptively massive “surface” accomplishments — the hypothetical job, partner, opportunity, house, car, etc. that we think will solve all of our problems — would have nowhere to seek shelter.
It’s extremely easy for me to forget this: that the little daily moments — the ones only you are privy to, and in which you make seemingly the tiniest decisions — constitute, in all actuality, the majority of an entire life.
This is likely in part because over the past few years of presenting myself online as a persona more than a person (big difference), I have slowly and unwittingly started to believe my own bullshit — that being the careful curation of my existence, and that the instances deserving of emphasis are the creative, outlandish, and/or histrionic as opposed to the humble. Maidenfed, by design, excludes the largely tedious nature of everyday life’s punctuated equilibrium. In doing so, my maintenance of her/it and my reliance on the resultant validation are a constant diversion from the everyday actions that allow one to be a relatively stable, functioning human being.
Much of this is rooted in the fact that I spend most of my time reacting instead of operating with clearly defined intention. Just over the course of writing this, I’ve wandered off down digital dead ends more times than I care to count. When I’m thrown off of a shakily blueprinted course by a storm of anxiety, comparison, or regret — or all three — my already-wary commitment to the baseline-maintenance pursuits (eating, exercising, sleeping, cleaning, socializing, etc.) completely vanishes.
What it comes down to is this: I’m almost certainly going to be the only person who cares if I do or don’t do the quiet, solitary, uninteresting things that, somewhere in my mind, I know I should do if I want to have any sort of success, period. The gulf between knowing that and following through — occupied by a mile-high pile of digital mousetraps — needs to be re-acknowledged, re-assessed, and re-surmounted every single day.
So, is it truly worth doing if it doesn’t provide both immediate gratification/relief and similarly instant commendation…?
I’ll ponder that while I promptly post this to share with you all so that you can hopefully validate my self-worth a little bit more.