I have not stopped scrolling. Kids in cages, irreversible climate change, fighting in Ukraine, the Capitol insurrection, state violence against minorities, poisoned water supplies, corrupt police, rising fascism, voter suppression—I’ve scrolled past it all, for years, and have not stopped. Not meaningfully, anyway. At this point, I have only one request: to stop feeling things.
In fact, I’m scrolling right now, this very minute, hoping the pleasant numbness that scrolling used to bring me will return, and—shit, look at that, some right-wing governor wants to replace public schools with something called “patriotism centers” that sound an awful lot like sweatshops.
Yep, I’m feeling that. Whether I want to or not.
Still scrolling. Oh, neat. My city’s air quality is still impacted by distant wildfires brought on by global warming. Too bad my three-year-old daughter has yet to evolve a way of breathing that doesn’t require there to be, y’know, oxygen. If she could do that, maybe I could take a quick break from feeling. But no, all she wants to do is watch Bluey.
(To be fair, it’s a heartwarming show that makes me feel good, and I keep feeling good for a full seven seconds after the episode ends—a record.)
Time to scroll to something new. Hey, look: a man falsely convicted of murder in 1985 is finally getting released from prison. That makes me feel good. Then again, he had his whole life taken from him by an overtly racist justice system, and none of the people responsible will be held accountable. That makes me feel bad.
I don’t know what scrolling ever brought me. When I started, it must have been a good way to keep up with friends. That’s got to be it—why else would I have gotten into this? But now, all it does is make me feel sad and desperate about the state of the world. Even when I do scroll past my friends, their posts usually just make me feel insecure about my own life. They’re all traveling to Greece or getting some big promotion, and meanwhile, I’m sitting here, scrolling past a story about how the mayor is cutting library funding to pay for cop cars that are, I quote, “the bad guys in the Transformers movies, only real.”
Great job scrolling, idiot. Now you’re depressed. I hope you’re happy.
Of course I’m not happy! You know that!
It was rhetorical. Stop talking to yourself in the middle of your humor piece. You used to be kind of good at these, you know.
I’m still good!
Really? Been several lines since we’ve had a joke…
Sorry. Talking to myself must be a byproduct of all this feeling. Maybe I’ll go to the dentist and ask if they have any of that Novocain stuff, but for your whole body and also brain.
THAT was your big joke?
Oh, like you could do better.
Still scrolling. Hey, check it out: a popular musician I don’t recognize is having a messy breakup with a movie star I don’t recognize. I can feel myself getting older and less relevant. How will I handle this? By embracing life as a blissfully out-of-touch father who’s content to spend time with his family and hobbies? Or by wistfully pining over a youth that, if I could only think clearly, I would remember was just as full of stress and despair as my life today?
I think we both know the answer to that.
Shut up! Last warning.
Here’s an idea. I have a pretty bad itch on my ankle from a mosquito bite. Maybe if I scratch it, I’ll feel relief, and that will cancel out all the stuff I feel from scrolling, and I can settle into a bit of the apathy that I used to hate but would now do anything to recover.
Scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch.
Update: the mosquito bite is now bleeding, which hurts, and I’ve just scrolled past a story about environmental regulations being cut, which also hurts.
Don’t forget the war in Iraq. Just because it happened years ago doesn’t mean you can’t still dwell on it.
Quiet! I will slap us!
In case it isn’t yet clear, I’m very sad. This is another thing I’d like not to feel, if at all possible, but my recent scrolling history suggests that it is not. I don’t know why this is. It’s not like every story I scroll past is negative. The other day, I saw an adorable video of a kitten playing with baby chicks. But it just made me think of how unfair it is that we deem chickens acceptable to raise in horrid conditions, slaughter, and eat, but we love cats and raise them as pets as though one animal is innately worth more. What right do we have to make that judgment? Are we not all part of the same delicate tapestry of life?
Sick of scrolling through my thoughts? Welcome to my world, fucko.
Sorry. Anyway, yeah, I guess I’ve got this weird paradox going on, where anytime I read a positive story, it only serves to highlight my negative feelings—like some sort of evil highlighter marker.
Evil highlighter marker? You call THAT a simile??
Eh, it wasn’t great, I guess.
The worst I’ve ever seen.
Great, a new thing to feel: shame.