For the last several days I have been cycling to and from work with a slow puncture in the front tyre of my bicycle. I pump it up in the morning, turn the pedals like mad to reach the office before it deflates, and repeat the process in the evening.
You’re probably wondering why I haven’t fixed it yet. So am I.
I suppose in my head it’s become “one more thing”. One more thing that’s not ideal, but doesn’t completely stop me in the state it’s in. It’s becoming a metaphore for my life in a way.
If you believe the social internet highlight reel, you begin to convince yourself that everybody else lives some kind of 1950s nuclear-family life, with straight-A children that are seen but not heard, an unquestioningly supporting other half, a lego brick house, and a neighbourhood filled with friendly Truman-Show acquaintances.
I do my best to take no notice of the social internet highlight reel. It’s interesting though – when people share their latest boast-worthy exploits, they are usually littered with little heart icons – “hate likes”, as many have begun to refer to them. The more interesting thing is what happens when people tell the truth about bad days, or falling-down moments – usually an awkward silence, punctuated with one or two close friends trying to comment something supportive.
In recent years I’ve found myself sharing increasingly abstract moments – photos of things, or moments, rather than places, or people. A voice on my shoulder continually tells me not to be “one of those people” – and yet I’m not really sure who I mean by that. We all have excited moments where we want to share something, brave moments when we might reach out, and subdued moments when we just want to know we’re not alone. It’s easy to put people in boxes – to classify them – to generalise. I suppose it doesn’t help that we’re surrounded by a media that teaches impossible standards, and that castigates anything but perfect behaviour.
When was the last time you saw a celebrity admit to invariably staying in on their own, eating pizza, and watching a rubbish movie?
As an aside, I remember watching an interview with David Beckham a few years ago – where he talked about buying LEGO kits when he’s stuck in hotels. He can’t wander out to explore, or sit quietly in the corner of a restaurant people watching as the rest of us might – so he buys LEGO kits, and builds them in his hotel room. And yet he also courts publicity to sell his brand. It’s a strange kind of duality, isn’t it.
I’m not sure where I was going with this. Maybe it’s time to put the kettle on, then go read my book. I’ve started reading the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin.