My spirit animal is the lemming.
Not the cute rodents that roam the tundra of Norway. The video game version.
This game was my jam during my university days. I spent thousands of hours building devious puzzles and setting records for the original levels, with a modest but widespread community of like-minded rodents. My specialty was exploiting glitches in the program to make the lemmings do things that shouldn’t be lemmingly possible. Like this:
The game is founded on the fabricated myth that lemmings follow each other over cliffs to their death. These guys, left to their own devices, will blindly go along with their fellow rodents, even if that means falling into a bottomless pit.
Well, I’ve just done the human social media equivalent.
This should be a doddle!
I’m still new to this whole social media thing, okay? Unlike the rest of my generation who jumped in a decade ago, I held out til October last year.
I found a fantastic local community of friendly, introverted yet outgoing characters. These people do cool stuff. They inspired me to get off my backside and go out and do stuff. Lots of stuff.
Too much stuff.
It seemed so easy at first. But it turns out I was blindly walking into a trap – and a common one at that.
Don’t get me wrong – I had some great times and some amazing new experiences. But looking back, I realised I was doing things to prove to them that I could. You signed up for a 10k run? I’m there. You work out at the gym? Me too. You go out for drinks midweek? I can handle it.
You’re starting a blog? Ok, honest to god, I thought of that independently. But I couldn’t help but try to outdo you!
How did I get here? Social media envy. Somewhere along the way, I went from “This sounds like a great thing to try, count me in!” to “What? Some aspect of your life is better than mine? No fair!” Inevitably, in my vain attempt to do it all, I hit the wall.
Here’s the thing: There are dozens of regular contributors to this group. I’m just one guy. I can’t physically keep up.
But more than that: These people have worked hard – perhaps for years – to get to where they are. To build those friendships and relationships, to get that job, to gain that skill, to find the energy to live a busy life. And to handle their liquor of course.
There’s no way I can live out the amazing life of user123 over there. But I don’t need to. Because, guess what? I have my own life too. I’ve done other things in that time and gotten somewhere myself. I don’t know for sure, but things seem pretty good in my little corner over here.
And who’s to say their life is any “better” or “worse” than mine? Maybe user123 actually has a crappy life and only shares the good bits. You’d never know! There’s no point in comparing myself to them – I can’t even rate my own life, let alone the lives of internet people I barely know!
In light of this, I’m re-evaluating my approach to social media. Here’s the plan:
- Reduce the amount of time I spend there. It’s tempting to get constant updates, but I can easily catch up with just a couple of visits a day. This frees up time and energy to get on with my own life – which, conveniently, means I’m more likely to have something worth sharing!
- Keep looking out for social opportunities and new things to try, but be sure to find time and energy for them. Prioritise: Will this bring more joy to my life than the other things I was planning to do?
- Be happy for the people who go out and do great things. Let them inspire me. But turn the focus back to what I’m trying to accomplish in my own life.
The key here is perspective. Step back and think about just how amazing this is. All these people, each with their own unique life experiences, come together on this forum and share their best moments. And you know what? They’ve earned those moments. I haven’t. But I’ll have my own too.
Time for this lemming to stop following and start leading his own life.