I was going to call this post “F*&% You All, Your Lives Are Not That Cool,” but I’ve been informed I’m “negative” and “intense” online, so instead we’ll go with this.
Last weekend my phone committed suicide on Friday afternoon after trying to upgrade its Enterprise server via the directions from work. I swear I followed the directions, but it wouldn’t even let me make a call without freezing. I got it back to phone-call-making capabilities by wiping it clean, but had no contacts and no internets. And, no possibility of a new phone until Monday. So, I ended up spending my weekend going to the high school cross-country regional/sectional/whatever championships, riding Tamarancho with some friends (terrifying mountain biking, by the way, just completely maybe-I’ll-throw-up-I’m-so-scared kind of terrifying), spending more time at the brewery than the ride took – even with me walking my bike a significant amount, and then racing the cross-country Pacific Association championships where I fell twice in the mud and slid and placed 94th or something — all WITHOUT INTERNET ON MY PHONE.
This was mind-boggling in its absurdity going into the weekend. A whole weekend, full of stuff, without email or twitter or facebook??
But, by the end of the weekend, when I sat down at my computer I felt better and more fun than I had in awhile. And not because of the negative influence of technology or all that shit people are always going on about. But, simply because I hadn’t been inundated with the forced positivity of the internet all weekend. I hadn’t felt compelled to see how everyone was doing at IM Arizona or how wonderful a time they were all having. And I didn’t care.
It may be just triathlon, but I don’t think it is. There is a need, particularly online, to always be soooo excited about riding my bike and sooo grateful for my friends and my life is just so amazing and so wonderful and so filled with positivity all the time — by inference it is so much better than yours.
Maybe other people don’t feel this way – obviously, they don’t. But, for me, this kind of relentless cheeriness eats away at my confidence day after day after day. If I’m not as completely totally all the time happy as everyone on my twitter feed or as amazed at the wonder that is the sun as all my facebook friends, something must be wrong with me, right?
No one online (or largely, in popular society) ever seems to have any problems that can’t be overcome by just looking at them with the right attitude. Or, at least they don’t admit it.
I’m well aware of the documented positive effects of being positive, but there’s a decent amount of writing on the negative impacts its having not just on society, but on us individually. Implying, or stating outright, that you just need to be relentlessly positive to overcome even the direst of problems is only two steps away from arguing that people who succumb to illness just aren’t fighters and those that remain impoverished do so because they just don’t want it enough.
And on a personal level, we are undermining our long-term mental strength and capability to solve problems by refusing to acknowledge them. It’s not that I’m negative or unhappy or down on my life; it’s just that sometimes I am. And, I’m betting you are sometimes too.
Which brings us to the draft title for this post and back to last weekend. For a whole weekend, I didn’t read about everyone’s super amazing days and how every chance is a dream and what a blessing this race was. And, I felt better than usual I think, because my weekend, which along with lots of fun also included a little bit of dry-heaving on my terrifying mountain bike and little bit of crying in the rainy cold at my XC race and plenty of doing nothing interesting at all, seemed just fine.
All of that isn’t the only reason why I don’t really think I want to do triathlon a ton next year, but it’s certainly related. It’s become the athletic embodiment of an attitude I just don’t know that I can deal with. (I’m also tired and really busy and sick of competing against girls who have so many more hours to train than I do and just not super excited about doing the circuit again. Mostly, I’m just not feeling it.)
I’m sure I’ll still do TriCal’s Alcatraz because I love that race and I’ve been thinking about other stuff, like ultras and Xterra – if I ever get up the courage to get back on my mountain bike. But, mostly I think I might just stick with running, of the non-Oprah variety, which has a whole different kind of attitude that includes kegs at the finish line, $20 entry fees, usually no med tent, and a lot of sarcasm.