The internet — is it worse than ever? Maybe so. I don’t really know what to do. I’ve blocked so many sites with “Block Site — Website Blocker for Chrome” that the only thing I can do for leisure online is read my Gmail spam. It’s a desperate situation, but I have learned that a lot of gorgeous women are willing to meet me.
My goal is to be off social media by 2019, but it’s hard. As Ariel the Mermaid said, “I want to be where the people are,” and that tends to be online. If you’re not on social media you’re an idiot mermaid and your only friend is a fish. What are you trying to prove? But I truly believe social media is poison, turning us all into Leni Riefenstahls of our own image, and it’s not going to go anywhere good. Alex Balk put it best last year in an Awl post that haunts me every day, RIP:
I know that many of you will defend your use of Twitter as something you are forced to endure for work (journalists, for example, use Twitter for the invaluable purposes of promoting their stories, showing how connected they are and finding out what other people are saying about them) so let me just tell you up front that if what you do for a living requires you to dip your head into a polluted stream twenty times a day and take a big sip before you personally defecate in the water you either need to find another career or admit to yourself that there is something about you that enjoys drinking from the same river where you shit.
Thank you Alex.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m writing to tell you today that there is at least one good thing left online. And that thing is Martha Stewart’s Instagram.
My driver Carlos gave his beautiful daughter away this weekend. Best of luck Brittney!!! You made a wonderful happy bride. By the way driver is not derogatory! Just think “baby driver!” Carlos is just as hot as #anselelgort, and by the way chauffeurs, at least the ones I know, wear formal uniforms and caps and don’t come to work in jeans and tee shirts like drivers.
I’m certainly not the first person to proclaim appreciation for Martha Stewart’s Instagram, and I won’t be the last. And I could tell you the obvious reasons why her Instagram is so good — the Faulknerian captions, the raw edge of the photography, the close-up of a pile of caviar on a baked potato, captured with flash.
But I won’t do that. Instead I will talk about this winter. The winter was a strange time for me, and it was also when Martha Stewart went to Antarctica. I had just broken up with a boyfriend and gotten a dog, two unrelated events that coincided in an overwhelming and emotional way. If you remember January in New York, it was fucking horrific. It was barely five degrees every day. My new tiny dog would not pee inside or outside, and I worried she was going to blow up. I felt ill-equipped to care for an animal or do anything else. It is not a good idea to get a dog in January.
When I am generally depressed and/or bored I like to look at the explore tab on Instagram. I could look at the explore tab for five hours uninterrupted. I will probably die looking at the explore tab. I have written to Instagram asking if they could disable the explore tab because I look at it so much and do not want to. I have not heard back.
Despite this, I have been working on the concept of “enjoying life.” As a depressed person who was exposed to the writings of St. Augustine at too young an age, this is very foreign to me. Life is not meant to be enjoyed, it is something to be endured with maximal suffering, some of it performative. Ideally, one should be allowed 30 minutes of pleasure (half an episode of Billions) after nine hours of meaningful and taxing work.
Breaking from this mindset has been really crazy. Can I be… happy? Being happy is very scary. It feels immoral. But it also feels kind of good, as I get used to it, but it requires a kind of insulation from all the meaningless bullshit that happens online. This is difficult to achieve.
Anyway, I looked at the explore tab for many hours in the horrible winter. Every day a new shitty picture of a glacier in Antarctica posted by Martha Stewart would be in the top slot. My favorite was this one:
This has to be one of the worst photos of a glacier I have ever seen. Martha is incredible, though. She has no shame, which is typically a bad personality trait, but coming from her it’s joyous. She’s having a great time, but she’s not lording it over us. She’s not perfect.
As the days got longer and there stopped being a blizzard every week, my little pup and I got used to each other and soon enough she didn’t have to wear four dog coats to go outside. Martha's chickens started hatching and her grandson got a lightsaber and she got stuck on the Tappan Zee Bridge, which was scary, but in general things seemed ok. Even good!!
You know that scene in the sixth season of Sex and the City, when Charlotte has a miscarriage and is too distraught to go to Brady’s first birthday party, but then she watches a documentary about Elizabeth Taylor and puts on a pink dress and does her hair and bravely and stylishly heads to the party (this is also the episode in which Miranda eats an entire cookie cake)? That’s what Martha Stewart’s Instagram has been for me.
Things will never be perfect, but I can at least go outside and appreciate the quiet beauty of a foggy morning, or the nuptials of my driver's daughter. To paraphrase Simone Weil, Martha’s Instagram does not offer consolation, which seems to be the driving force behind so much content. Instead, it offers light. Which is very hard to find on the internet. Even in my spam folder.