The Modern Malaise of Mixed Emotions

It is a brand new month. Not a lot has changed since yesterday when I was upset about being in a tough financial spot (though I’ve crunched numbers so at least I know exactly how much wiggle room I have), but I did get my yearly Spotify stats today so now I’m wondering if I have a music/podcast addiction or if I’ve grown reliant on those forms of media to combat my constant solitude. I spent an average of 7.2 hours a day listening to Spotify, exactly 21% of which was a single podcast.

Podcasts probably make up a significant chunk of that time total, though I do like to keep music playing whenever I’m doing anything. Regardless, I’ve spent way too much time picking over stats and doing math to figure out percentages and daily averages because I love basic, simple statistics like how I’ve listened to Friends At The Table for an average of 2.5 hours per day since I listening to my first episode of the podcast. Which seems like a lot until you realize that’s just over a third of my daily listening time.

I just love me some analytics. Pointless, useless statistics. Little bits of life reduced to funny numbers that seem to mean something until you pick them apart with even a little scrutiny. I mean, how many hours would I lose from these stats if I was able to remove the times I forgot to hit pause or wound up walking away from my desk for something that was going to take a minute but wound up keeping me for three hours? Or the times I fell asleep listening to a podcast and had to relisten to six-to-eight hours of episodes because I was asleep for them. Or when I turned on music I never planned to listen to just so my bird would have something making noise around her. Regardless, it’s a lot of fun to think about. Nothing like an amusing hyperfixation to shake you out of the doldrums.

Aside from that, I’ve been trying to remind myself how much better I’m doing right now. This has been a rough year for me, rougher than 2020 was, even though that was the year that everything fell apart. At least it had whole long periods where nothing horrible happened beyond the general pandemic stuff. I could live my life, do my work, play my games, and just get through it all one day at a time. Now, I still have to do that on top of all of the constant but relatively solveable problems facing me, so I try to stay cognizant of how well I’m doing comparatively. Most days are fine, I can get enough sleep, I’ve got food to eat, and I can spend as much time as I have the energy to spend writing and gaming. Or reading, when I have the focus for it, which isn’t as often as I’d like. It gets too quiet.

It’s difficult to think about the future. Not because it’s horrible or depressing, I just still feel like I don’t know what to expect. We’ve got a “new” Covid variant, a horrible government (or, like, several dozen the way things are going), global warming deniers, rising reactionary movements, and increasing econimic inequality. But also a lot of people working to counter those problems, the ability to connect in ways we never have before, the ability to accomodate people who have historically been forgotten, and what feels like a burgeoning media renaissance (though there’s no telling if it will survive what seems like the pending implosion of the internet as unaddressed problems like Facebook and right-wing shitheads seem to be getting worse and worse).

It’s just difficult to know how to feel about all this. I feel inclined to try to explain it all away as the malaise of the modern age, but that also feels incredibly priveleged. Sometimes I have to disengage if I want to make it through a day with a scrap of joy or emotional well-being intact, but sometimes doing so just makes me feel guilty for falling back on my privilege. I’m not looking for comfort here or a solutions since I know all I can do is figure out and pursue whatever will let me literally sleep at night since I can’t do shit if I’m falling apart. I just don’t like hoow inadequate it feels.

Seems to be a recurring problem for me, these days. Not knowing how to feel about something. Despite my writing, despite how much time I spend in introspection, despite how much work I put into maintaining a rich internal life, I never seem to know how to feel about things. I guess it’s better than just not feeling them like I used to, or hiding away all the negative feelings like I used to between not feeling things and now. I guess it’s just frustrating to acknowledge that I am doing better than I was previously while also acknowledging that things still kinda suck. At least I know where I’m at, I guess.

I don’t have a great conclusion to this, I guess. Just find something fascinating, entertaining, and largely harmless to hyper-fixate on and let yourself enjoy the distraction for a bit. All the problems and whatever work you need to do will still be here when you get back. Might as well take some time for yourself when the opportunity presents itself, you know?

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