I’m boring now.
I’ve fought it for years, but it’s time to give in and cop on: I don’t have anything to write about because my life – and by extension my very person – is boring. Prone as I am to solitary sports like reading and long walks, I was never the one with a daring story for every occasion, usually ending with one or more participants spending the night at A&E or under a bush somewhere (that’s my brother’s job – no, literally, it’s his job: he spent 20 years in radio), but I held my own. I went places and saw people and collected a funny anecdote or two to share once I went new places and saw new people.
But now so little happens to me that I’ve been reduced to using journal prompts to even have anything to say to myself of an evening. I know I’m not alone in this – the only reminiscing people will be doing about this portion of history is “remember when we all stayed home for two years?” – but I have some exacerbating circumstances that make me even more boring than everyone else.
For the last eight years, I’ve worked from home. For six of those eight years, I’ve also had small children. This combination means that most of the people I talk to are me or were made by me – and although I hold great hopes for the people I made, at this stage they still mostly talk about Ninjago and snacks. I’ve reached a point where I’m living vicariously through my local barista – a 23-year-old hipster with the build of a baby giraffe and some complicated lady problems.
(Do we still call youngsters with man buns and exposed ankles “hipsters”, or is there a new word I’ve missed because it’s not on Ninjago?)
Compounding the issue is social media. As someone who works from home and has small children, I love social media. It’s a lifeline, an escape, and a way to catch up with all the friends I never see because we can’t get babysitters on the same night (and even if we could we’d be obliged to go out with our husbands instead so we could talk about things other than which child gets custody of the Thor minifigure today and how many pieces of apple it’s okay to let them have before dinner).
I can give or take Facebook other than Messenger these days, but I fucking love Instagram. Presently I’m following dozens of shiny-haired American women as they redecorate their enormous, brand-new houses one elaborate built-in at a time. I love it. I’m filled with envy and deeply unsatisfied with everything about our house – but not enough to actually do any of the DIYs they share. Instead I obsessively scroll through them, saving pictures of cavernous dining rooms and enormous walk-in wardrobes and feeling an itchy sense of loathing about my actual surroundings. It’s great.
My point, though, is that social media has made us all boring. Already saddled with a dearth of stories due to a pesky global pandemic, any tiny scrap of interesting content has already been shared online by the time you actually speak to a friend or family member. Conversations that used to start with “wait till I tell you what happened on my way to…” now begin with “I saw your post about…”, and then both parties chortle awkwardly until someone says “but did you see the meme I posted…?”
There are no punchlines anymore; nothing to share that hasn’t already been shared. Interesting life events are now so light on the ground we’ve collectively settled for sending the group chat a series of coloured boxes every morning and leaving it at that.
I can see two possible ways out of this predicament: go out in the world more often, or get off social media. Frankly, I don’t like either of them. Going out means paying for parking and finding my mascara, and I’ve forgotten how to tell a story in real time anyway – how do you even express emotions without gifs? What if I disappear off Facebook and all my friends forget I even exist? What if Lauren from Instagram tackles her master bathroom and I never get to see whether she goes with lacquered or unlacquered brass faucets?
Maybe it’s better to just stay boring.