The weirdest thing happened today. Or tonight, rather. My family and I all went to dinner. Not the weird part yet. When we got home from dinner, we decided to play a round or two of my sister’s and my guilty pleasure: Guitar Hero. Still not the weird part. As we were walking up the stairs to go shred some heavy-ish metal, my dad noticed that my sister and I, in the dead of December, hadn’t turned on the heat. Our rooms had been an excruciatingly chilly 65 since October. Brrr. He flicked it on, as the Georgia weather is forcasted to drop below 40 for the next couple of days, and interspersed throughout our playing, I could hear its low grumble, a sound that my ears had been lacking for so long. And by so long, I mean the week or two I’ve been living here over Christmas break. After we had had enough of all our shredding, we decided to hang up the way-too-small-and-also-plastic Stratocaster in its rightful place and call it a night.
The item following “play Guitar Hero” on my simplistic winter to-do list includes “get ready for bed.” So, I brushed my teeth and washed my face. As I was drying my face with a towel, I noticed two red blood smears (and white blood smears and platelet smears) right where my nostrils would have been. Hm, I thought. I went to get some toilet paper, and as I leaned over, a stream of blood exited my right nostril. Hm, I thought again, this is weird. I haven’t had a nosebleed since approximately the fifth grade when at a sleepover I ruined Alexa R’s white pillow case. So my next actions were what any human being would have done: I shoved some toilet paper up my nose and went on WebMD. I wasn’t really concerned for my health, but when I was a kid, I had heard mixed reviews as to whether or not you’re supposed to blow your nose with a nosebleed, and I had to put these matters to rest, you see. Of course, the only thing that WebMD led me to conclude was that I have a bleeding disorder and/or a substance abuse problem, so I clicked on the next link which happened to be a page called “MedicineNet.com”. Apparently “Medicine.net” was already taken? But the interesting thing that “MedicineNet.com” told me was that “nosebleeds can occur spontaneously when the nasal membranes dry out and crack” and that “this is common during the winter months when the air is dry and warm from household heaters.”
Can we talk about this for a minute? Not even an hour after my dad turned on the heater for the first time this winter did my nose start to bleed. How crazy is that? A bodily function that hadn’t let loose since my middle school days happened in the blink of an eye due to less than an hour of a change in environment.
But this got me thinking, as most things do. This fast-acting sort of response is how everyone expects things to be nowadays. And I might even go as far as to say we don’t just expect it this way, we demand it. We have grown so accustomed to instant gratification that we are confused and frustrated when things don’t happen within seconds of whatever thing that we flung into the internet that nobody ever needs to hear ever. We’re sad when in a certain amount of time, we don’t get enough likes or retweets or text messages or whatever the heck we think will satisfy the longing within us.
I watched a video, ironically on Facebook, of an interview with a man named Simon Sinek who is an author and speaker. Trust me, he’s legit; he has Ted talks. The premise of the video was “The Millenial Paradox.” And basically, the paradox boils down to this: the way kids are being brought up is way different than the environment in which they find themselves. Take the example of me getting a college rejection letter. Now, these suck. I should know, I got more than one. But why do they suck for me so much? Why are so many of my tears shed over these things? Because the worth of my whole life leading up to this point is dependent upon whether or not this college or university accepts me. My whole life has been my schooling, and all of my schooling has brought me to this point. But also, my whole life has been getting reminders and extensions on assignments and my parents complaining so that teacher bumps up that B+ to an A or registers me for that honors class that I shouldn’t be in. (Sinek calls these things “participation medals” in the interview: things that are supposed to be inclusive but actually leave me feeling embarrassed or belittled.) But the college decision process is unlike anything I’ve ever faced. It’s grueling and difficult and frankly unfair. I have been told for 13 years of schooling that I’m special, and now I’m just a number and a GPA and so-and-so college or university doesn’t even want me to pay them? I was not prepared for this!
Now add social media to the mix. These platforms are our coping mechanisms when life gives us lemons. Think about it, seeing that you’ve beaten your record amount of likes or noticing you have 12 new message notification feels good (and it feels extra good when you’re lonely)(and turning to a device as a distraction is easier than talking to your parents or friends about the problems your facing). And all of this feels good because it causes a release in your brain of a chemical called dopamine, the same chemical that’s released when you drink, gamble, or smoke–three highly-addictive, age-restricted activities. But interestingly, the satisfaction you feel when you see that you have 100 likes in 30 minutes on Instagram after your boyfriend dumped you is a similar satisfaction to a smoker having a cigarette after a long business meeting. We, as a generation, have habitually turned to devices instead of to people because devices can go to space and back in 0.45 seconds and bring back 313,000,000 results. And this causes mass impatience and an insatiable need for instant gratification.
Realizing these things were so true about myself and seeing the collision of these two events (the nosebleed and the Facebook video) unfold in a bloody coincidence made me think more about how I’d like to spend my time and energy and how I’m actually spending my time and energy. And now, realizing that the answers to those questions are not the same, I’m deciding to take a social media hiatus.
So, if you need me, I’m probably off watching the world or reading a book somewhere, trying to keep my nose blood from staining the carpet.
That’s all for now.