the 400 blows

The 400 Blows | Blow movie, Film stills, Film
A scene from The 400 Blows

I’LL POST SOME NOTES here about going off social media. Today is my first day off. It’s really become such a ritual over the years, that the day is spent interacting with Facebook and/or Instagram. It’s the first thing I’ve done in the mornings, the last thing I have done before bed, and if I happened to wake up, I might check again. I cannot say any of that time was worth it. Maybe a tenth? But more likely 1 percent of that time spent actually enriched my life in any way. So I wasted a piece of my life using the 21st century version of an online bulletin board. At least I am off it for now. Social media is a war zone. It’s where people who are unhappy with their own lives or the world in general gather together to settle scores. It also feeds massive insecurity issues and, I think, reinforced a sense of isolation or apartness. When you are using it, you tune out the real people who inhabit the same physical space that you do. You ignore the richness of real life, yes, real life, the one you can taste, touch (and smell). When I deactivated my account, I felt a sort of massive void open up. Somehow I felt as if I had “lost everything,” and yet I had lost nothing. Ninety-nine percent of the so-called friends on there haven’t been seen in years if not decades, and many of them I have never met at all. We’re not friends! They haven’t left my life. They haven’t been in my life for years. So that sense of loss is synthetic. There is also this odd sensation of “disconnecting from the world,” because no one knows where you are eating lunch, except the real people who see you eating lunch there. Think about that for a moment. How can you “leave the world” by deactivating an online account? Still there was that big vast open space again. Only in the evening did I start to feel somewhat normal. I watched The 400 Blows by Truffaut about French kids in the 20th century. It was actually a beautiful film, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Somehow I realized that my own childhood, in circa 1989, wasn’t actually so different from this little boy’s childhood portrayed in 1959. This was to me a validation of what a real life could feel like. I know though that it will take days if not weeks for my mind to return to normal. I cannot wait for odd questions like, “Where did you disappear to?” when I am in the same place I have been all this time. I don’t think most people realize the extent to which they have lost something, been brainwashed in effect. It’s amazing that it has engulfed so many people, almost all people. Only solitary writers who simply cannot be on social media have been spared. As Murakami said, he avoids social media because the writing is so bad. He cannot afford to read bad writing. He can only read good writing. That sounds like a wonderful start.

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