“Life Moves Pretty Fast” And Other Anxious Ways People Tell You How to Live Your Life

In our world, in social media, there is an audio circling in TikTok and Instagram Reels that says: “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” And people react to this by flashing pictures and videos of them doing crazy things, looking excited, visiting thousands of places all over the world, parachuting in Dubai, and wearing bikinis in a panoramic view Vegas Suite, and this gives the impression to my Gen Z friends and me, that, it’s true, life moves pretty fast. I need to make plans quickly and do something exciting, extreme, conventionally bourgeois, and share it on social media: Living life becomes anxiety-driven, and, ironically and sadly, not legitimately living life. An unfortunate other thing corrupted by modernity and its consumerism: Living life. Living life shouldn’t be, for us 20-something-year-olds and teenagers, a chore, burden, to-do list, spectacle, or something to prove to ourselves and to others. To live a life we must be genuine, we must do the things that make us happy. And that includes calmness, taking time, breathing, and being at peace with the slow and small chores that make Life. Being happy with what we are, what we do, and value what we want to do rather than the image of what needs to be done. If we keep pursuing an image of what needs to be done to be happy, decided by someone else, we always feel like performing, and performance is not living life. Non-performance is when one is truly living. To me, sunshine in a public park, a warm drink, and dancing indoors are equal to what Peru, bungee jumping, and clubbing are to different other personality types and our social media culture of desire. I try to listen to my heart, and everyone should too, but I am always learning. The “they,” and its standards of what to consume and when, keeps trying to get to me, to us, and it does, to many people. But we try to remember, and we try to be ourselves, and listen to our needs and desires. Because that’s the only unique thing we have as individuals.

In our social media world, people tend to skip over the slowness, the idleness, and it tells us that we are wrong to experience it. In videos about college, I heard a person say: “In videos about college, they show a lot of compilations of partying, kissing, doing crazy outings, but really, a lot of it is this…” then they showed a long compilation of them studying. But to others watching other videos, they might think that, to be in college, one constantly needs to go out and do things, they are tricked. I remember when I was 19, in college, I never felt comfortable in my own skin with idleness and slow studying because I see people on social media going out, to party, and see breathtaking views. Each day, there’s someone somewhen going somewhere. And when I sit to study, I can’t, because I want to make plans, and those plans don’t make me any more fulfilled, and because I rarely took the time for that slow process, because I never felt comfortable with it, I never was on the track of either living life fulfilling with outings and parties, or living life in idleness and enjoying it: It was purgatory. In our editing-filled social media world, combined with the fact that we are increasingly socialized through these edited images, we get sucked out of listening to our needs, and appreciating slowness and the present, and this makes us forget the beauty and essentiality of idleness. And we must value our own pleasure as opposed to the pleasures that others shove down our throats.

Can we resist the “They”?

When I talked about this and my friend engaged, he told me that you can’t really zone out too much from society, or else you’d be lonely: You have to go pretend you’re living a good exciting life for the social media and not what makes you comfortable and happy for you, if you don’t, you can’t really relate to anyone. And I think that’s far from being our main problem, once you live life according to your values of happiness, and not what the next TikTok, ad, will tell you makes you happy, you will find people like you. As much as the social media world likes to tell us not to enjoy ourselves on our terms. Idleness is also living life, a simple pleasure might be enough, the adrenaline-filled pleasure is also enough and okay as long as it comes from you, not from the anxiety of fear-of-missing out.

What is also a full life?

Watching a movie.

Listening to a song.

Playing an instrument.

Reading poetry.

Writing poetry.

Going for a walk on the beach.

Hiking.

Joking with friends.

Taking a nap.

Reading a book.

Telling a story.

Hearing a story.

Coffee in the morning.

Lofi music is in the background.

Writing about culture.

Observing and talking about behaviors.

Learning about anxiety. (Not in preparation for something, but just the learning itself.)

Learning about philosophy.

Watching a youtube video.

Watching a play.

Eating a sandwich.

Petting a cat.

An unspoiled living to live: An embrace of idleness and the present moment, portrayed by the village in Luca, a Disney and Pixar movie, 2021

“Films that showcase locations always end up creating something of a tourism boom among avid travellers desperate to see whether the reality lives up to the screen hype. We’ve seen the positive and negative sides of over-tourism in recent years, and Strijleva is conflicted about what might happen next. “It is such a precious region of the world. It was a secret for so long, because you could only really access it on foot or by boat. Railways were the first way people started to discover it as tourists. I do want people to visit, but I want them to be respectful and understand how special it is.”

It seems that modernity, anxious living, is spoiling life for the pursuit of an illusion of life. I see unspoiledness, in my home, Algeria: Blida, Algiers, Constantine: A beautiful Mediterranean living for life, work for some of the beauty of work, and community, conversation, and peace. And I am scared to see it, or predict it, to be eventually spoiled, like the city and culture portrayed in the movie Luca might be because of tourists flocking after the movie’s success. Algeria is not a tourism hotspot as of yet, unlike neighboring Morroco and Tunisia, some parts of it are left in peace: unspoiled by advertisements, foreign labor exploitation, and disrespectful property ownerships that don’t care about neighboring architecture, unspoiled by taking selfies for others to see as opposed to looking, and living.

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Nabil Houari

Nabil Houari

Utopianist, in the lines between fiction and reality. I’m a social science researcher & I blog on lifestyle and mental health.