My fellow Instagram users: We did it. We did Christmas! We posted holiday cards, we wore sparkly tops, we put our pets in sweaters, all of it! ALL OF IT! And boy, it was a rich and joyous time, right? Twinkly lights! Gorgeous cheese plates! Topped off by a burst spigot of bonkers and occasionally contradictory Instagram content. What a ride!
Now all that’s left to do is spend the month sweeping up ten thousand dried pine needles hidden behind the couch from the real tree we swear was worth it (...it wasn’t). In these dried and crispy times, I thought it might be wise for us to reflect on the lessons learned from watching ten thousand Instagram stories over the course of the 12 Days of Christmas, ie: December 25 to January 5. Furthermore, how might we gird ourselves for next year when the spigot once again catches all of us in its splatter? I will do my best as a humble surveyor of millennial Instagram behaviour to lead us in these efforts. Let us begin:
Lesson 1: Everyone, and I mean everyone, is reading so many more books than you are
That’s right. If you thought Spotify Wrapped made you feel insecure (Taylor Swift is my safe place OK?????) just you wait for the Goodreads Brags! You are about to discover that everyone you know has somehow managed to read 72 books this year. You may process this information several ways: At first, you may think it must indeed be a fluke, and yeah Susan-from-your-old-job read a lot of books this year, but Susan once asked you if you owned a TV, so OF COURSE Susan read 72 books. But then Becca-your-kid’s-friend’s-mom and Steph-from-university and Katy-from-highschool and even dear sweet Evelyn-who-is-absolutely-caught-up-in-an-MLM-pyramid-scheme has read— GOSHDANGIT—72 BOOKS???
The next phase in processing this information may involve retreating into the dusty annexes of your brain to catalogue all of the books you read in college and high school, as a means of assuring yourself you are not an illiterate idiot. “Hey! I read Tess of the D'urbervilles! And East of Eden! And Great Expectations! And I once got an A on a paper comparing Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe!” While this may *temporarily* relieve your insecurities, you will unfortunately have to acknowledge that you didn’t actually finish Gulliver’s Travels or Robinson Crusoe, and sadly Goodreads does not acknowledge SparkNotes. Once you have completed the necessary cycle of shame that ends with Googling: “Do podcasts count as reading?” you will use your Amazon gift card to order two popular novels you *totally* meant to read last year, dust off your neglected Goodreads account, and set yourself an ambitious goal of 72 books for 2023. Then you will get real with yourself, and switch those numbers around to the much more reasonable and attainable goal of 27 books for 2023. (sidenote: follow me on Goodreads!) Next lesson!
Lesson 2: Resolutions are OUT!!!
…but *intentions* are in. Exercise is OUT...but *movement* is in. Diets are OUT…but *intuitive eating* is in! And, all joking aside, this shift in messaging is actually very nice and good. But you might find yourself a little confused about how you’re going to read a whole 27 books this year if you’re not resolute about it? And further reflections on the idea of intuitive eating may unfortunately rattle the door of another annex in your brain, and you’ll be forced to remember that one New Years Eve in '99 when your cousin came over and you offered to dare yourself to eat as many Schneiders Hot Rods® as possible. Like, she didn’t actually dare you - you honestly just wanted to eat as many Schneiders Hot Rods® as possible and said “Hey cousin, do you dare me to eat as many Schneiders Hot Rods® as possible?” Then you ate as many Schneiders Hot Rods® as possible and it turns out if you follow your base intuition you might eat 27 Schneiders Hot Rods®, and that maybe isn’t so good. Next lesson!
Lesson 3: Pick a word, you illiterate idiot!
Guess what? All of your gentle and good intentions are ALL FOR NAUGHT if they are not grounded in a Word of the Year. And it better be a good one! Something like “Flourish” or “Rooted” or “Anew.” You will spend a great deal of time wondering if you too should pick a word, and start by cycling through your favourite Wordle start words, but you usually do the 1-2 combination of SNAIL followed by ROUTE, and neither one of those are particularly inspiring as an ethos for an entire year. And then you may land on one that sounds encouraging, but become immediately superstitious and worry that if you pick a word like, say, “Growth,” you will just end up summoning even more dark chin hairs. “Snail” it is! Lessons adjourned!
And those, my friends, are my humble observations on what it’s like to be Extremely Online from December 25-January 5. Sing it with me now:
Three useless lessons,
Twenty-seven Hotrods ...And your Word of the year is SNAIL!