Maybe I’ve just got a bad case of the Monday blues but I’m feeling an epic wave of blah-ness tonight. Scampering my fingertips across the Internet isn’t helping either; the place is stockpiled with an overwhelming prevalence of shiny stuff and it’s kiiiind of boring in its glitter-coated, uninspiring perfection.
Yesterday, The New Yorker ran a piece about common clichés comedy writers should avoid. Coincidentally a lot of them involve potatoes, a starch I didn’t even know was being abused as a comedic crutch. The list, between the Wait For Its and Best. ____. Evers (also, “Where’d you get all these potatoes?”) got me thinking there’s a dearth of creativity online and it’s everywhere we look—from writing to photography to joke-telling of the potato variety or not. We may think we’re wildly creative but really, we’ve run wild with creative platitudes. When you go to the supermarket but you’re not even hungry! That time my dad ate a salad and I laughed! When your dog poops and then you pick it up because it’s illegal not to in the state of California or at least in my town! Grrrr.
The issue is most obvious on Instagram, where feeds are soaked in every shade of rose-colored, filter-y dew. C’mon, people. There is no moment in life when we’re caught holding a perfectly drippy-but-not-too-drippy ice cream cone against an edgy, wooden wall. That thing drips all over your hands and not in a cute, photographic way either.
I mean, when do we ever have on a trendy yet casual outfit and find ourselves standing at the precipice of a mountaintop we supposedly scaled, dramatic greenery around us, a too-blue sky above, pondering the perplexities of life but also looking totally cool?
Those experiences only exist as the stuff of hashtag lore, they live in Photoshop-saturated hobbit holes, and sadly, they’re not real.
Now, I’m not the first to write about backlash from a society set on digital perfection. Plenty have done so before me, perhaps with much more eloquence, and plenty will do it again. On another related note, I don’t mean this as an assault on social media itself; I love social media and its crazy wiles. I just want us to be more funky with it sometimes and wish we’d get out of our own gorgeously drawn shadows and instead relish in the mess of sour-pickled life.
Take Snapchat for instance, the virtual rage against the idyllic Instagram machine. With candid shots and blurry, unplanned videos abound, the platform seems to be staging a dog-eared revolt on the utopianism offered by its Insta-rival. Grittier, edgier, less contrived, Snapchat and its intense popularity proves we’re moving in the direction of realness but I’d argue we’re still pretty far away. The question remains: Will we ever get there?
It’s a wonder I have on this very bland California evening—call it a Monday warble if you will—that forms in my mind as rain cascades in slow-tempo, jazzy bipple-bops down my window and I think how very perfect imperfection can sometimes be.