‘Living a positive life’ is a thematically prominent topic online, a subject full of vague quips and vapid advice, typically in the form of recycled, overused quotes alongside what I can only describe as loose, laughable list of ideals to live happily, forever. And you know what? It all spins me into nausea. I even once saw an article asserting that cleaning dishes after every meal instead of waiting for them to pile up was a sure way to live more positively. Or facials or smart shopping or travelling or waking up the crack of dawn or whatever else, everyone everywhere seems to be shoving their idea of ‘how to be happy’ down my throat and I am so tired of it. In fact, most days, I mutter ‘can you fuck off, please’ to almost everything I read. Why is the internet so obsessed with happiness?
Why do we as participants here on the worldwide web feel compelled to broadcast just how incredibly, amazingly happy we are all the time? And if we aren’t? There is a buzzfeed article or blog post with a list we can skim to make sure we too can be euphoric like everyone else seems to be. I am all for encouraging joy but that is defined personally and very intimately, an emotionally empty list is not the way to a positive life. It just isn’t that easy, the good things in life are never a click away. And what makes one pretty blogger or some journalist happy might make you as a person, miserable. Which brings me to another point I want to make, what about sadness?
Why has this undeniable emotion been so shunned on the internet? We have forced it out and now it lies in the shadows of our lives, the parts we don’t share online. Happiness and sadness are both beautiful components of life, one cannot exist without the other. Carl Jung said, ‘The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness’. I say we should aim for fair and honest representations of both sentiments when we broadcast our lives across the internet. I want genuine oscillations between the two, that change with the day but are real in that they reflect how we as humans truly feel. I’m tired of the online world pretending to be jumping for joy all the goddamn time. It just makes everyone else feel lonely, left out and inferior.
And it is this internet error that prompted me to speak truthfully here, 2 years ago I made a pact to dig a little deeper and share the myriad of emotions I feel as I grow up and move around this earth. Happiness so often is a fight in life and there is no strength to be found in some list to follow, just like there is no strength in pretending sadness doesn’t exist. We struggle, we fall, we stumble, there are good times and there are bad times and yes, we should all aim for a positive life but not by bluffing and denying melancholy away. One emotion cannot exist without the other, concealing one renders the other meaningless. If you are sad, say it and if you are happy, say that too. I promise your life will become richer if you express your entire spectrum of emotions. This is why I write the way I do, I’m honest, I complain, sometimes I’m so sad I can barely see straight, but it narrows the distance between me and you. I want internet intimacy. Because ultimately, I know you feel all the ways I do. We all do.