I’m tired of Twitter: the tweets have become unmanageably numerous, their provenance byzantine and their relevance to my life questionable. And now I’m getting frustrated by Facebook: its algorithms are relentless, its process addictive and its friendships demanding. There are two friends in particular who cause me considerable anxiety: one of them has an astonishingly wide range of interests and pursuits, yet still finds time to document them all in detail - which makes me feel limited, like one who knows a great deal about stamp collecting but little about anything else; the other one is an advocate and supporter of more worthy causes than I even knew existed - which makes me feel guilty for not showing more concern for other peoples’ problems.
Social media undoubtedly bring the benefits of connectivity to millions, but they also bring a certain amount of pressure to follow-up all the interesting things, adopt all the right-on movements and keep up with events. At times I find it overwhelming and become paralysed by indecision. I know that if I were to adopt yet another interest or cause I would fail to deliver anything more than superficial activity when what is called for is deep and lasting commitment. It looks and feels like defeatism, but in the face of an overwhelming tide one must adopt a flotation tactic. It is time to de-clutter my mind.
As a way of limbering up I am starting with the physical objects around me. It’s not so difficult because there aren’t many: apartment living does not allow for the accumulation of much stuff. With neither garage nor attic in which to “store” incoming objects they soon acquire an awkward presence which begs the question of their real value in the scheme of things. In these circumstances the choices are simple: the stuff can be thrown out, freecycled or sold. Better still, it need never be introduced in the first place.
And then there are some time-consuming activities which can be culled in order to gain head-space. For example, I just read a magazine article which featured answers to the question “What is the best way to sand and re-polish my engineered wooden floor?” Because of my incurable interest in DIY – woodworking especially – I was compelled to read every one of the answers avidly and critically - and to regret not having seen the question coming so that I could send in a response. The answers were of mixed quality but there was one in particular which impressively quoted the thickness of veneer likely to have been laid onto the substrate. On reflection, however, the one which stays with me was the one which said, in effect, “Get a life.”
But, returning to mental clutter, although I strive to live in a minimalist interior and limit the extent of my displacement activities, my mind is like an old mansion, its unused rooms filled with memorabilia and its outbuildings stuffed full of scraps of information which might come in handy. It needs sorting out. I am, of course, not the first to seek a solution to this condition, which is one reason for the universal popularity of belief systems, which work by persuading individuals to accept a pre-packaged explanation of the purpose of life. These systems may involve a deity, some form of spirituality or a mortal figurehead - but the one thing they have in common is the assuasive message that there is only one path to follow.
But there isn’t. So, short of a lobotomy, I must find a coping strategy. My preliminary investigations have uncovered a technique which just might work. It’s known as laughter yoga and seems quite simple: you just have to laugh.