In a very distant time and place, MySpace was of the utmost importance to myself and my much younger peers. Changing your Top Friends was a major social event and could lead to drama the likes of which TNT doesn’t even know. Profile pictures, headlines, and profile names were the easels of a generation of quasi-artistic attention-seekers, the generation whose parents were both working and thought one kid was enough, so there was never anyone to show them approval for their latest exploits. Who better to turn to than each other?
Discontent was the forte of the MySpace crowd. Nothing was “the new black” because it was still just black. One could determine if it was a good week for a friend by whether or not they were smiling in their latest mirror pic. I guess, looking back, we should’ve been able to predict how vapid we’d all become one day, seeing as how we only communicated through cheesy image macros and vague, depressing song lyrics. It’s as if we were writing the business plan for the explosion of reality TV, exploiting ourselves simply for the opportunity to be acknowledged.
I thought of this because I’ve been listening to my favorite band even more lately, and that band was the source of many one-liners at the top of my profile before I became quite so angry with politics. Back then, I was angry with everything, but mostly with myself. The profile name I used most consistently during that phase is the title of this post, from the song A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me.” It probably goes without saying that my self esteem was a tad fragile, but no moreso than the majority of males on the site at the time. Through whatever outside elements, we became “the new face of failure, prettier and younger but not any better off.” (Yes, another FOB lyric.)
I don’t have those moments anymore. Well, I do… A couple of weeks ago I had myself a pretty emo week, but they don’t happen as often, and I don’t react as strongly and spontaneously as I used to. It’s not to say that I’ve matured or that I’ve learned to contain my outbursts… one look at my Facebook or Twitter updates will confirm that. Frankly, with time I have simply arrived at the conclusion that things aren’t so bad and they could be far worse. I wanted impossibilities… I wanted to be a rock star, I wanted to command attention… not to be powerful, but simply to be widely acknowledged in some way. I still want those things, but I also picked up a healthy dose of reality along the way and I learned to appreciate how lucky I really am.
The interesting part is that I still sometimes have those moments, those days, those weeks where my life can be summed up by an old song lyric and I can’t really put my finger on what’s wrong… everything and nothing, I guess… but I feel it. Someone out there is probably saying “chemical imbalance” as they read this, and I suppose it’s true. I solve it, paradoxically, by playing the same songs of depression and disillusion that I would quote to help people understand how I’m feeling, and it gets whatever chemicals I lacked pumping back into my brain and makes everything a little better. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia tied with the memory of things always getting better eventually. Maybe it’s just the fiction of a singer in a huge band understanding where I’m coming from, making it a little more bearable.
The good news is that I don’t live with this so often anymore, and most of the others seem to have grown out of it as well. The bad news is that we’ve all seemingly replaced it with some other damaging thought process. For some, it’s complaining about their jobs. For others, it’s lamenting how terribly uncool the people around them have become. For me, it’s the rage brought on by politics, socioeconomics, war and peace, and so on. Some days, I’ll ban myself from reading any more news and avoid my Facebook feed just to avert my eyes from the latest pile of crap that has been dropped on the House floor or in some pundit’s studio. Some days, I wonder which is worse… damaged self image, or damaged hope for the world.
I don’t know where I’m going with all of this. I’m having an excellent day today. I’ve had two good workouts the past two nights, have been quite productive at work and home this week, and I’ve even been eating healthy. I’m ten days from vacation and I feel like time’s moving swiftly. This post isn’t pessimistic. It’s actually quite the opposite, but I feel that the words don’t get that across. Such is the tribulation of stream of consciousness blogging.
In less than four weeks, the new Fall Out Boy album comes out, and I will be receiving my pre-order copy on vinyl. It’ll hit the turntable immediately for a couple of listens, and no doubt I’ll be singing its praises on every social network before the needle lifts from the last track. Maybe this album will continue the trend of one-liners that I can use to describe how I feel about life in a given moment… after all, the members of the band did just take a few years off, so life must be good, right? Even on their last album, 2008’s Folie à Deux, their lyrics seemed to be keeping pace with my life:
“I’m a young one stuck in the thoughts of an old one’s head.”
Like I said… it’s not that I’ve grown up. I’m still the same kid I was a decade ago when Fall Out Boy and MySpace were both getting their humble starts and I was choosing my first Top 8. I’m just living my youth inside an older and wiser head.