Facebook is making us boring.
Our perpetual digital connectivity has warped our minds into believing that others are hanging on our every word… even when those words are all about our allergies, our retail woes, our opinions about pop culture, politics, and other inanities.
In other words, the very stories we’d avoid if they were being told at a family reunion are the same things we feel obliged to share online, every day, in the hope of receiving a few likes or comments from people we vaguely know, like a shot of adrenaline in our otherwise mundane lives.
The Internet is becoming a vicious cycle of boring people boring each other, and it has to stop before future generations think we did this on purpose.
Here’s how we can fix it.
You’re Not That Interesting… But You Could Be
When’s the last time someone asked you “What’s new?” and your response wasn’t “Nothing”?
Does that bother you?
If it does, then I’m going to presume that you actually want to live an interesting life (and not the proverbial Chinese meaning of “interesting,” either). Here are eight things you could do differently that would create new opportunities to live an interesting life, instead of the one you’re currently stuck in.
* Start telling people what you really think of them. This will immediately make every conversation you have more interesting.
* Confess something. Not the fact that you’ve never seen The Wire, or your undying love of the Backstreet Boys. Something that matters. Something that might change your relationships with other people. (You’d be surprised how many people read about my freelance struggles and use that knowledge to bridge a communication gap between us.)
* Do something amazing, and don’t tell anyone about it until you’re done. I know you have dreams. Everybody does. Telling me that you intend to do X is nowhere near as interesting as surprising me with the announcement that you’ve spent the past 12 months becoming an entrepreneur, a licensed massage therapist or a cage fighter. Your dreams themselves aren’t necessarily interesting, but the ways you achieve them are. Go do something.
* Befriend “The Other.” You know who else is a lot like you, and you know who isn’t. That second group is the one you normally avoid because they’re different. So go play with them for awhile. See what they’re really like. Try to understand why they think and behave the way they do. You may never see eye to eye, but you may see yourselves as companions instead of competitors.
* Handicap yourself. Has your life been too predictable lately? Give yourself a problem: empty your bank account, reformat your computer, lock your keys in your car. Is this the smartest thing you could do? No, but it does create conflict, and that’s what powers any narrative. (And your life is a narrative, isn’t it?) Plus, teaching yourself to overcome invented obstacles makes it easier to handle life’s unexpected roadblocks when you come across them in the wild.
* Start a relationship. If you’re single, you probably don’t want to be. While you’re waiting for the perfect match, go have a good time with someone else. It might surprise you and end up lasting.
* Quit your job. No nest egg? No parachute? No planning? Go for it. Just walk in tomorrow and quit. In the short term, you’ll probably be fucked. In a decade, you’ll have one hell of a comeback story.
* Move. How long have you lived where you are? Go someplace else. Maybe across town. Maybe across the country. Or maybe you and your roommate should just switch rooms for a week and see what that’s like. A change of scenery sparks ideas; a change of residence sparks opportunities.
WARNING: These suggestions are not legal advice, nor should they be construed as “fate” telling you to do what you’ve always meant to do but never did. I take no responsibility for your actions, nor will I take any credit for you finally having something to Facebook about other than how they never refill the hand soap at your local Taco Bell.
But you’re welcome.
And if you don’t feel compelled to live a more interesting life, congratulations: either you’ve already found inner peace and contentment (and you should be writing a blog about it, not reading this one) or you’re emotionally dead inside, and you should subscribe to another on-demand video service because you have that kind of time. Maybe find one that has The Wire.