I understand that it may seem a bit odd to say this, considering that I am about to spend the next 500-800 words navel-gazing — but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about accepting the heretofore unacceptable idea that maybe I’m not that interesting.
What I mean to say is this: there are a lot of discussions about how we shouldn’t hold ourselves to the wealth or beauty standards of the Instagram famous, or else expect ourselves to have as many followers as the filterless algorithm kings of Twitter — but what if at the end of the day, we just shouldn’t expect ourselves to be that interesting in the first place? What if, maybe, we’re not that interesting to begin with and very few of us realistically hope to achieve true interesting-ness by the end of our lives?
In some ways, perhaps this is a defense of being basic. But what I mean to say is more than that we should allow people to like popular things without shame; it’s that perhaps the bulk of us are actually kind of dull and shouldn’t go through overwhelming pains to fight it — that maybe we are stressing ourselves out over a battle against probability.
Some interesting things have happened to me in my life, to be sure, and probably in yours, too. Family drama, college adventures, a job that keeps me on my toes — all interesting, I’d say, at least for a limited time. But on the daily, I am none of those things that I experienced — I am someone who fell asleep in her tinted moisturizer twice last week, who likes oatmeal and has trouble finishing books. I like to cook and go on long hikes with my dogs. I prefer red wine, most of the time, and I place a very high value on sleep quality. On an average day, I work, I make dinner, I go to bed. All of this is to say: I might not be, at my base level, an interesting person.
A key part of this is that there are no extenuating circumstances surrounding my day-to-day life that make me a point of interest to people — and by that I mean to a theoretical and significantly-sized audience, whatever your interpretation of that size might be. Sure, I know how to write and I have a platform for some of the things that I produce, but in a democratized internet, is that really so insane?
I’m not saying this to be self-deprecating, but rather to position these perfectly mundane realizations and facts against how social media makes me feel: that I need not just be beautiful and funny and socially savvy, but that I also need to be able to put on a great performance, too —that I need or should feel compelled to find the fanciful or riveting narratives in my life and put them on display. I should be richer, I should travel more, I should be in places where beautiful things happen. Social media screams: I should live every day as if it were my last chance to induce FOMO upon my followers.
This, I think, is why we so often find other people’s Christmas tree photos so boring, or why cruise posts are not compelling, and why latte art snapshots are undeniably out of style. We’ve been trained to see life through the Instagram filter for so long that we can instinctively parse which people might actually live unusual and fascinating lives and which ones just ran out for a coffee during their lunch break and also own an iPhone. The authenticity competition that social media perpetuates has, it feels, increasingly demanded that we also live our lives as fodder for content, not just find the content in the lives we lead.
That’s why RKOI happened; that’s why we follow the Kardashians; that’s why influencing happens.
And this brings me back to my original point, which is recently I’ve been thinking about how uninteresting I am, and how that doesn’t mean that I can’t make or do interesting things, but that my life is average, and will likely remain pretty average in a lot of ways, maybe forever. And maybe the guilty feeling that I get when I think about accepting the boring parts of myself is really just an online distortion I never consciously sensed before. Maybe this is just the life I’m living as the person I am. And maybe, all things considered, I’m kind of dull.
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