In 2011, as a friend saw me light up my millionth cigarette of the day, he asked, “Wow, do you really hate life that much?”
Nicotine, alcohol, or obsessive entertainment, it doesn't matter. At its core, every addiction is the same: running from oneself.
My friend was aggressive, but he was right: I did hate my life a bit, and nicotine was a break from reality.
Thank god, we now have lung-friendly alternatives such as algorithmic feeds!
And with that widespread addiction, I wonder: Why did it take a global pandemic for many to sit with themselves and deal with how much they hate their life?
Trapped at home with no escape from their thoughts, most people numb themselves just like they do on their commute: by endlessly scrolling.
With all that time available, even scrolling wasn't enough to escape deeper boredom, the kind that like an aggressive friend whispers: “Wow, do you really hate life that much?”
While some people went bonkers when forced to face themselves, many flourished: they read books, learned new skills, got into obsessive sourdough baking.
To an extent, some of that remained into our post-pandemic lives.
But much of it didn't, because that boredom and thinking were enforced by a virus. They were not a deliberate choice. By now, many have partially regressed to desperately trying to escape your their own miserable company.
But they know the difference between that initial discomfort that makes them scroll, and the deeper, life-changing boredom. The direct friend who pushes you to start building crap in your garage, find a new job, or join a real community.
It's crazy that it took a highly infectious virus of unknown origin to get us to finally look inward and ask: Who am I? What do I actually enjoy? Why am I wasting my life at a job that sucks out my soul like a vampire?
But here is a thought.
You don't need a global catastrophe to prompt self-reflection. You should carve out time for solitude and contemplation.
It’s possible, without waiting for an apocalyptic event to force you into it.
Although that would require resisting doomscrolling or deleting some dopamine-dispensing social media apps. And we can't do that now, can we?
It's easier to wait for a virus.