Our attention span is perhaps the most coveted commodity in the digital age.
Screens and technology have opened up worlds of communication and identity platforms beyond our immediate, limited surroundings. This makes us digital inhabitants most of the time, fleeting in nature, neither here nor there.
Everybody wants to hear about everybody else’s business, and the noise pollution of everybody’s opinions can drown out our own voices—if they ever existed in the first place.
Given the screens we live in, it’s becoming more and more difficult to reckon with the simple reality that life—real life, for the most part—is quite boring, and the un-excitement of life in its natural state can often be the downfall of what could have been something beautiful.
I write about romantic relationships because this is the most deluded part of it all. Human needs are often quite basic, regardless of how “evolved” the world we live in has become. As a romantic soul born into the wrong era, I’ll be the first to say that love, as displayed on screens for us to consume, “Glam Love,” so to speak, is more glam than love, more package than substance, and belongs exactly where we see them—in movies, romance novels, and filtered photos.
Glam Love is an orchestrated production of heightened storylines, ad teams, and million dollar stylings; Glam Love is fiction; Glam Love is unrealistic, and often unsustainable on the rare occasion it is achieved somehow, because Glam Love is like the runway and white tents during Fashion Week—the stamina to sustain millions of camera flashes will not be able to tolerate the quotidian life beyond those white tents—a life where air generally does not smell like champagne or perfume. Glam Love and permanence belong in separate worlds.
I won’t bash Glam Love, because my career, along with many other creatives’ careers, all benefit from this veneer, this larger-than-life image, this fairytale. No one ends up a creative person by accident; we tell ourselves stories in order to survive. Our livelihoods depend on the make-believe world we operate in, and what a fantastical world it is to be operating in—but there is the recognition that real life and story life are distinct from one another.
The very irony and inherent paradox of the glam life is that, as time goes on, we need more of what made us delusional in the first place.
But we need to see it for what it is; we need to recognize the drug that we are injecting into our lives. We need to start recognizing and accepting that real life is actually, in fact, quite un-exciting, and should we choose to pursue Glam Love as a coping mechanism, then that’s all that is—a coping mechanism, a shallow high.
I grew up consuming Jane Austen novels, so you know I’ve made my share of mistakes early and quickly. I bought into grand gestures and over-the-top drama, melodrama, and everything that didn’t matter was a truly big deal. Yet, the worst heartbreaks were not over people I truly loved. The heartbreaks were hard because they were episodes of what had aspired to be Glam Love. The heartbreaks were hard because I fell in love not with the person, but with the idea of that episode of Glam Love being real and lasting.
I pursued Glam Love as it had been the first definition of love I had ever encountered; I pursued the wrong love in the wrong world, all over the world, for a full decade. No one ends up in show business by accident. I am now sharing my lessons, in the hopes of avoiding some hard journeys of love headed nowhere, but we all know that history is likely to repeat itself.
I’ve also learned that once you truly love someone, you can’t undo that love. Real love doesn’t go away; that love doesn’t terminate just because a relationship terminates. Real love stays with you—warms you, strengthens you—past the shelf life of a relationship. Real love is beyond the boringness of life. But Glam Love isn’t. Glam Love will blind you, consume you, betray you, and then waste you.
I can go on about the extreme highs and the devastating lows of chasing Glam Love, but I think mainstream media does a good job of that too. So, I will tell you about the boringness of life instead, because this might normalize life a bit. If Glam Love were an opera, real life would be a series of scattered notes in dissonance, among awkward silences we don’t know whether we should break or sustain, with an occasional chord, just enough to carry on without folding it all in.
In real life, there are bills (that we have to pay ourselves), chores (that we have to do ourselves), obligations (sh*t we have to do for other people), responsibilities (more sh*t we have to do for other people), burdens (inconvenient sh*t we have to do for other people), and sacrifices (giving up what we love, voluntarily or forced, for a perceived worthy outcome, or in duty for other people). We get stuck in traffic, stuck underground, stuck in bad relationships, stuck at a job we hate, stuck with roommates we can’t stand, stuck because we don’t take the responsibility to filter or manage the energy we let into our lives.
In real life, we get rejected more than we like, and we can’t deal with it, because no one ever took that class in school, right? Honestly, what did we learn in school that helps us cope with the boringness of life, anyway? We learned about an idealized world and optimum behaviour in bubbles that didn’t explode in our faces with real consequences.
In real life, we lash out, we project our pain—either outward as anger, or inward as depression. And then, there is anxiety. But wait, we can’t really openly talk about that either. There is stigma around so much that is real, and there is golden glitter around so much that is fake.
The unexcitement of life continues with laundry, grocery shopping, parking, taking out the trash, dishes, cleaning, paying taxes, making mistakes, dealing with other people’s mistakes that are now somehow our problems…problems after problems.
No one ever taught us that love could be so marred with so many problems—that when we love, we are really choosing not just a partner, but a whole new set of problems to deal with, as long as we are still choosing to be with that partner. Glam Love, as we know it, is forever; it is pristine, two qualities that betray the impermanence of life.
And how impermanent it is—the life we lead, the love we abandon, the life we neglect, the love we forfeit, the life we squander, and the love we’ve mutilated and cannot recognize because it’s not in limelight on a billboard.
Love is what a lot of us live for and dream of, and love can be glam. But, if we buy into Glam Love, we will end up making maniacs of ourselves. If we set our standards at the level of Glam Love, we will always be disappointed; we will end up betraying the very moments that are real. If we pursue Glam Love, we will end up losing our lovers and losing our selves.
If we get the impression that anything beneath Glam Love is not love, then we have truly misunderstood love.
Author: Xiren Wang
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Callie Rushton