My friend posted a link to this online ‘zine post titled “5 Things We Will Wish We’d Done Differently” and, well, one thing the author will probably wish he’d done differently is spent less time thinking about what he would probably be thinking about wishing he’d done differently sixty years from now and more time doing constructive things. (Also, maybe spelling out the word ‘five’.)
Now, I am as guilty as the rest of my cohort when it comes to the whole forgetting the moment, living for the future thing. Do I love my current job? No, but I might love some future job for which this current job is giving me skills, and at the very least I get banging retirement benefits.
But let’s leave our regrets where they belong – in the past of the future (i.e. the now).
1. “Most of my spare time was sacrificed to social media.”
First, dude, you are writing a post for an online magazine. (Joke break: Jesus said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” then turned to help up the man on the ground. Something hard hit him in the back of the head. “Ow! What? Mooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmm. I was trying to make a point.”)
Second, I’m pretty sure my octogenarian self would be a little upset with my twenty-something self if she weren’t on social media all the time because Twitter knows everything before Reuters and Facebook is how we communicate with friends and family. Do you know how many albums containing pictures of an unfortunate-looking newborn making the same squished, red face thirty or fifty times I would miss if I weren’t on Facebook?! (Ok, bad example.) But no one sends real invites anymore. How would you hear about actual social opportunities if not for Facebook? Text message? That’s probably just another example of too much dis-connectivity.
2. “I knew more about celebrities than I did about my neighbors.”
Maybe my neighbors aren’t very interesting. Or they didn’t want my Girl Scout cookies. Or I didn’t want their Girl Scout cookies because I was on a diet that day. And it certainly isn’t our generation’s fault that knocking door-to-door to peddle fundraising items results in an alarming number of fatal kidnappings while hardly anything dangerous ever happens while perusing tabloid covers in the grocery store.
As with social media, the institution of celebrity in itself is not sinful or inherently bad, but, like social media, it demands that its followers invest large swaths of their time in order to feel connected. There are two troubles with this: (Run away! A list within a list!)
a. Much of the information learned about celebrities will prove untrue or irrelevant within your lifetime.
b. The relationship with a celebrity is one way and two-dimensional. In other words, you have no opportunity to affect their lives, only observe them.
I don’t have to ‘invest’ any time at all in either of these things because the information magically finds me on my phone or the radio or in messages from my friends. Part of being part of our society is being up on at least some celebrity gossip. If you aren’t, your eighty-year-old self will probably be regretting all of the conversations in which he/she couldn’t participate and felt stupid and ill-informed.
a. Who cares, as long as it’s salacious? Plenty of “serious” things have been disproved in previous lifetimes, or is discovering the earth revolves around the sun not a big deal? (Obviously the FBI does not care since they continued investigating poor Gen. Petraeus even after they determined there was no criminal case.)
b. Lies. They check Twitter, too. Or their assistants do. Maybe if I’m super witty they’ll RT or @ me!
3. “I was so set on buying things I never got the pleasure of making them.”
Have you tried making an iPad? Because shit’s difficult.
But also, have you checked out that social media site called Pinterest that you disparaged so thoroughly two list items earlier? Because that site is full of people who are DIY-ing those pie crusts you’re lamenting. (Also, see this book: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. Sometimes it just makes sense to buy something pre-made because you can’t do it better or cheaper yourself.)
4. “I wasted my life entertaining myself.”
Instead of… what exactly? Not entertaining myself? Sitting in my room twiddling my thumbs? Churning my own low-cal butter substitute? (Ed. Note: Inefficient, see above.) And is this honestly a tendency you think only applies to millennials? People have been reading and whittling and drawing and playing and zoning out since recorded history. Solitaire (or Patience) has been around since the mid 1700s. Entertaining ourselves is how we came up with some of humanity’s greatest creative, scientific and technological achievements. Besides, no one can be selfless one-hundred percent of the time, and any older sibling will assure you that the younger sibling’s ability to entertain herself is essential to continued familial harmony. (Ed. Note: Word. – Polly)
5. “I never found time to be quiet.”
Introverts are quiet quite a lot of the time; have you met any? On the other end of the personality spectrum there are plenty of people who identify as extroverts and don’t like to be quiet or surrounded by silence because it is detrimental to their mental health.
Be quiet if you like being quiet. Don’t be quiet if you don’t like being quiet. But, please – whatever you do – don’t entertain yourself when you’re being quiet because then you’re thinking about you and not about the other people who might want you to not be quiet because they are thinking about themselves and how badly they want to be entertained.