Is there anything real anymore?

I’m sitting at my desk, where I spend way too much time browsing the internet. To be honest, I’m an internet addict. I find myself infinitely connected to a wealth of knowledge here in front of my screen. Here, I try to harness the power of the world wide web to expand my cultural horizons, skill base, and yes – even social/entrepreneurial reach.

This past weekend I had been working on a van that I purchased last month.  I’ve been wanting such a vehicle for quite some time, hoping to be able to haul the shit that I’ve moved dozens of times in the past decade or so (I move on average 3-5 times a year) and I’m also hoping to make the van into a tiny home where I can sleep when needed. I’m creating an ‘adventuremobile.’

I suppose for me, the van symbolizes freedom, possibility, and ownership. It is the physical interpretation of all that I might put into it. If it remains empty it is perhaps for lack of diligence on a dream, or perhaps it remains empty to be utlilitarian rather than extravagant. Its hard to say what life I’ll choose for my van.

So far, I haven’t managed to make over my van into some imagined glorious Instavan with colorful Boho chic fabrics, an assortment of maps, LED lights and a minimalist wooden base.  Currently, its just a white shell with a bit of insulation filling the gaps in its walls.

So, this weekend I was replacing a part that had broken (the heater valve) and investigating a ventilation issue (SOLVED and FIXED). In typical x-ennial fashion I believed in the power of the internet to teach myself how to do the fix. The internet did not disappoint in delivering a pretty quick fix for the ventilation issue (just a matter of replacing a vacuum hose that had been cut in two ) but I did have to do all of the leg work on my own (with a hand from my friend who provided the tools, a hand when I needed it, and some practical wisdom) and I did have to remove a number of components and return them correctly to their proper places.

Since I had completed 95% of the work on my own, I naturally felt an immense sense of satisfaction. As I was gloating in my newfound experience I suddenly had the urge to SHARE it.  That’s natural, right? Wanting to share an accomplishment is … normal. Or is it …just habitual?

The thing is, what I had done was actually just a mundane thing. Rewind to 20 or 30 years ago and no one would have given me a ‘like’ or a pat on the back for completing such a project. But today, if I shared the process with a larger social circle it might imply any number of things about my character – it would potentially give me a sort of avatar credibility.

Sure, I’d earned a level up in experience points, but where was the satisfaction in my own self-improvement? Was it enough to just do something and not be compelled to tell or show anyone else?

This very simple experience made me wonder at my entire existence. Was I doing things because I loved them, or was I doing them because I desired social bonus points for doing them? What IF no one else knew what I’d accomplished that day? What if I kept that all to myself?

In the end, the addict within me craved recognition. I scrolled whimsically down the page of my insta feed, where I could view the accomplishments and pride of another 200 connections.

A fantastic ceramic piece that was artful caught my eye. I liked that one.

Another one of a friend’s kid doing something wholesome. I liked that one. I envied that one.

One of a few dozen artists that I’d found in my suggested pages shared some landscape paintings. I liked that one. I envied that one. Not just the painting or the skill, but lifestyle.

I admired and envied over and over again. That’s the thing. I couldn’t just look, even when I felt like I was dispassionate. Often I was dismissive about a post, or willfully not liking one to make a self assumed statement that my ‘likes’ were superior and only shared with a purpose.

Here I’ve found myself once again on the internet. This time, I’m looking for van conversion how to’s. Or maybe I’m just looking for van life inspiration. Quick searches on van beds revealed several dozen images of cooler than thou vans and their cooler than me owners and their cuter than mine dogs (or other pets) on sunny beaches and majestic mountains, their doors wide open. There on the bed reading perhaps was a lovely bohemian woman with her tousled hair. Or she stood on a mountain in the distance with a bikini up her ass. Or she waded in a pool of crystal waters with her hair to the camera and a bikini up her ass. Or she stood on a rug she’d brought outside the camper van while whimsically playing with her hair, a bikini comfortably wedged up her ass. And no matter how dirty or road worn she was, she always looked glamorous and the light never caught the side of her profile weirdly. She was always just PERFECT.

I’m viewing all of these things simultaneously and so sickly caught up in my detest of the manufactured life that I now realize all the schemes to which I subscribe. Wearing makeup is a huge one. I wear makeup because I feel MORE BEAUTIFUL, or because I think people find me MORE ATTRACTIVE with it on. In fact, I think I think I’m more attractive with it on because when I don’t wear makeup and I look like my normal healthy self people often say I look ‘tired.’ 

So, this brings me to the present, in which I’m now typing this blog post, and wondering – Is there anything REAL on the internet or is it all just a show?









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