Anyone else have a headache?
And I don’t necessarily mean from last night’s game either — although we could just as easily discuss at great length how J.Lo manages to do what she did on that pole at 50 and how I can barely fit in a daily 3 mile run at 33, but let’s not digress on this fine Monday. No, today’s hangover of choice is more from the copious amounts of content we all consume on a daily basis. From Instagram to YouTube, podcasts to TikTok and yes, even the very blogs you read — we’re living in an age where we are quite practically surrounded by content at pretty much every turn. And the second we blink or think about blinking, there’s a new reel of images/videos flooding in, ready to be double tapped, commented on, half-listened to and scrolled past.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see the irony of a “content creator” bemoaning content (especially one twirling in a gown). After all, content is the most visible output of my job — it keeps an overpriced West Village roof over my head and HelloFresh meals on my table. Not to mention the more important fact, I’d rather have an overabundance of content than not enough — there’s beauty to be had in the common bonds we can build across networks and platforms; to share information and feel an affinity in a time when divisiveness runs rampant. But lately? I don’t know how to put it other than: I’m just plain tired.
There, I said it. I’m tired. Exhausted. Maybe with a side of “my age is showing.”
I suppose I hit a breaking point this past Friday when I started a bit of TikTok research, which really turned into an hour long rabbit hole of watching a lot of the same songs and dances be recycled over and over in different users’ videos. The variations were almost indistinguishable, with most users posting the same exact song and dance a second (or fifth) time to their feed, recorded perhaps this time at a Chipotle instead of their bedroom. I think Kate Kennedy of Be There in Five put it best in her recent podcast episode — TikTok is meme culture, that is recycled concepts that have already been vetted and approved by the masses, with some slight personal flair that each user may or may not bring to it. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. On one hand, I can’t stop watching. And on the other, I can’t help but wonder, where is this all leading?
As someone who enjoys writing and reading long-format blog posts and involved photo production with a narrative, I realize I may be the outlier these days. I’m really bad at producing and posting photos in the moment mainly because I love the pre and post stages too much to rush them. I work a bit slower. I sit with images a bit longer. I edit and edit and re-edit again. Instagram and TikTok may be instant, but for me, it’s not about the speed at which I produce. Photography and storytelling will always be a long-game for me and I’m getting better at pumping the brakes in an online world that would rather I break the speed limit at every turn. And you know what? I’m happier as a result. I’m actually enjoying my craft again. (Of course, I indulge in creating the occasional Elvis video on TikTok, but that’s because I’m a proud dog mom not because I’m vying for him to go viral.)
Unfortunately, I don’t have any grand conclusions or a Buzz Feed listicle on how to navigate this, other than my own meandering existence as an octogenarian in an increasingly younger and younger space. I try to actively mute accounts that make me feel pressured in some way as opposed to inspired or enlightened. I refuse to mindlessly scroll (last Friday’s TikTok experience was a relapse). And this year, I’m leaning even more into looking for inspiration outside of the digital space — museums, old films, lectures and the like — because I think it’s so needed sometimes to break the cycle of a never ending trending hashtag world. While this all may be at the risk of sacrificing my social currency of likes and follower counts in an age where they’re indisputably king, I don’t really care anymore. I’d rather create from a place of passion, with likes as a happy byproduct — not an expected one. If you’re feeling a bit fatigued as well, I encourage you to do the same, whatever that means to you in your line of work and/or scrolling habits.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pop a few Advil because I think I may actually have a slight lingering hangover from last night’s game.
Hope you all have a wonderful Monday and please do let me know, if you’re feeling somewhat similar to me in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you and how you’re dealing with it!