Statistics run our lives. Much of who we are is based on digits. Your weight, your height, your grades, your income, your Facebook friends, your Instagram followers and number of RETweets. I recently read a book (for about the third time) in which a main character is fascinated by suicide statistics, and I felt myself similarly fascinated.
On WordPress, there is a page called “Stats”. It is, essentially, the same as the “notifications” page on most social media and I spent much of time on the statistics page on Tumblr when I still ran my blog. My entire life became compelled by that page, by my Instagram notifs and follower:following ratio. I saw this Statistics page on WordPress when I first started this blog and didn’t think much of it. This particular blog doesn’t mean much to me in the way of popularity. The way I see this one is that I’m trying to avoid people as much as possible. This is the one place where I can listen to dorky music from old video games and simply type.
This is not the page where SnapChat filters cover half my face in 99% of my selfies. This is not the page where I’m supposed to be maintaining a careful balance of political debate to memes. This is not where I am an intelligent coffee drinker with a pencil behind my ear who smokes expensive cigarettes in dingy alleyways with a designer jacket on. This is not the place where I need to pretend that I am cool with an “alternative” taste that is still near enough to mainstream to be “cool”.
This was supposed to be the one place where “stats” and “notifications” don’t matter.
Except I saw that “stats” header and saw my updates and felt a sense of dread. On a blog on which I talk about nothing but my personal life to anonymous strangers over the world (all two of you), I actually cared about the progress this page is making.
Sometimes I like to think that I’m not obsessed by my follower count and reblog numbers. I’m not controlled by my likes and comments on a picture. I’m “too smart” for that. Except, I’m not.
Very few of us really are. We’re all searching for validation and, in this world now controlled by numbers, your self-worth is achieved through those “stats” and “notifs” pages. Our very essence is dependent on numbers. I, personally, have struggled with my weight. I know I have never been an “unhealthy” weight but have, and am in the process of, dealing with an eating disorder. Through my life, I have seen many struggle with the same and it’s never about “looking good”.
The entire focus of my weight loss is numbers. I see pounds and jeans sizes and my work uniform sizes going down and feel like I’m worth something every time I drop down a size. I had a friend in high school who was obsessed with her weight and ended up, many a night, in the bathrooms in the boarding house, crying in the bathtub. That bathtub saw a lot of tears in my time there and I will never forget the first time she was leaving it as I was going in. She looked exhausted. She paused, hugged me and left. We both were battling with the same issues and both knew it was wrong but, in our own heads, we didn’t see any way out because we needed that validation. To see our dress sizes go down and smile as we saw it.
She lost almost 10lbs that year and then put it all back on in two months. I lost almost 20 and managed to do the same through my final year of high school. Even now, I drop almost constantly. It’s slower now but I am more focused. Before I had grade averages to focus on. I had several sets of statistics to split my attention between.
My entire focus has slipped to my weight in the last few months and, while I never meant for this post to become an eating disorder call-out, it was the most fitting way I, with my experiences, could relay the point. Plus I’m not ready to bring up the heartache my grades gave me as I could very well lose myself to that next.
Statistics have controlled me since I turned nine and started getting graded. Statistics controlled my best friend when she took art and started having her pieces compared to her peers. Statistics controlled my cousin when she was bullied and started seeing a therapist and learned that the “bullies were suffering too” and had statistics preached at her.
I hope to someday rid myself of their control over me but I fear I never will.
[ Songs of the post: just listen to the Firewatch (Full OST). Trust me ]