Soon, I will feel something; I must. This can’t go on forever. That dog I scrolled past earlier came close. The cute dog that was wagging its tail. It made me feel, um — what’s the word? It’s when you feel in between good and bad, but it’s slightly closer to good. Damn. This will drive me crazy.
Adequate. That’s the word. The dog made me feel adequate.
I’m not sure that counts as really feeling something, though. I’m going to keep scrolling. Maybe I can get closer.
Oh! What’s this? A big, meaty sandwich with melted cheese. Boy, that looks good. Well, I know intellectually that it looks good. My mind is aware that the sandwich is, in all likelihood, delicious. The crispy onions and bacon look particularly mouth-watering.
But my heart? My heart feels nothing.
No matter. I can scroll forever. That’s the beauty of it. There’s a vast, virtually infinite field of content that exists solely for my perusal. Like this post — it’s by an old college friend with whom I disagree politically! Let’s see what he has to say. I’m sure it’ll make me mad!
Huh. How about that? I’m not enraged. Not even irritated. It’s not that I agree with him. In fact, his new post — which denies that there’s a scientific consensus on climate change — strikes me as even crazier than usual for him. How can he write such garbage?
If I were feeling something, I bet it would be anger. Ooh, and contempt!
That would be nice.
Maybe what’s going on is that, subconsciously, I know my friend can’t be convinced that he’s wrong, so my brain is trying to save itself the stress of worrying over it at all.
Yeah. That’s probably it.
Oh, look! A news story about a father who ran through traffic to deliver life-saving CPR to his young son. Whoa! What bravery. What love. And see how cute that boy is? Trying to be tough in the face of danger. Such a little fighter.
This story has to make me feel something — it can’t not. I’m going to sit with my eyes closed until it does.
I blame the internet. Everything today is flattened; no story is afforded its proper weight. News reports about Syria and op-eds about racism and pictures of people mountain-biking and videos where zoo pandas fall down — they’re all stacked on top of each other! One right after the other in an endless feed. How am I supposed to wade through all this without arriving at a maddening, indecipherable noise? How could genuine human emotion penetrate such an opaque, suffocating shroud of free online content?
There’s only one solution. Faster scrolling.
Let’s see. Eight bagel toppings I have to try this instant? Nope. A single mom’s blog post about why cell phones are bad? Strike two. A quiz about classic Nickelodeon TV shows? It’s right in my wheelhouse; it should fill me with an intoxicating blend of nostalgia and amusement. But, alas, no.
I would like very much to feel something.
Oh, no, a sponsored post from the ACLU. It’s about fighting for voting rights in poor communities. And — oh, God — it’s asking for a donation. Shit. You know, I always say I’m going to give them money and never do. I’m the worst.
Hey! Did I just feel something? Was that — guilt? I think it was! Yes, I’m feeling trace amounts of guilt!
This is awesome.
You know what? I’m going to donate. I just got my paycheck, and I have no excuse not to. Here we go. I’m clicking the post. I’m selecting “Donate.” Twenty dollars to the ACLU. There. Done.
And what’s this? I’m feeling something else. Something new. Whatever the opposite of guilt is. Satisfaction?
Yes! Satisfaction. I’m feeling low but distinct levels of satisfaction.
What a day.
I wasn’t always this way, I don’t think. I used to feel more, I mean. I remember turning 24. I had a little thing at a bar near my office. I was still pretty new to my job back then, and I was happy about how many coworkers showed up. I really hadn’t expected many to. Plus, some of my old friends came. One was even in from out of town, and we were all talking and drinking together. It’s not like they were doing me some big favor by being there or anything. But it was nice. Most of those coworkers have jobs somewhere else now.
Hey! I just scrolled to a picture of one of them! Craig Moore. How about that? He was always cool; sometimes we’d get lunch together. I wonder how he’s doing.
Hold on. Am I about to feel a third thing? What’s the word?
Nope. Lost it.