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  • Writer's pictureAbhishek Anicca

Do people really want you to be happy?

Updated: Feb 20

I am happy for you.

There is something very indifferent about this statement. Someone who says this is definitely not happy for me. None of the people I call friends ever said this to me. They don't need to. I know. I can sense it in the way they talk to me. They way they laugh with me. They way they are excited about everything happening in my life.

I am a gut feel kind of person. And completely irrational at times. Although I think my gut feeling is very rational. It has always been. Men seldom talk about their gut feeling when they are amongst other people but I am sure everyone has them, even if it's often altered by their social perception.

Around a month ago, I decided to take a break from Instagram. I realized that it requires too much digital intimacy. When I posted about it on Instagram as a sort of farewell story, people poured out their condolences. I hope you get through this, said one person I have never met in life. But we know each other through Instagram. Maybe they know more of me than I know of them.

That was my problem with Instagram. That was why I wanted to get away. There is just the assumption that people understand your life. I wanted to say that actually being on this app is bad for my mental health. The real problem is that you have to constantly perform your emotions on instagram. An outpour of emotions to maintain authenticity. Perform outrage. Perform sadness. But most difficult of all, perform happiness.

It is true that instagram made me much more hopeful. There were many people entering my DMs. Wanting to have intimate conversations with me. Share their worlds. Be my friend. But hope is painful after a while. Hope makes you forget that most people who are interested in you are looking for some emotional intimacy. Maybe even free ka therapy. It's comforting for them. Especially when you are so open and share everything with everyone. What you forget is that this sharing is just a part of their lives, a small corner. That away from this sharing they have social lives and friends and lovers. For you, everytime someone messages you at night, you become the Uday Chopra character from Dhoom and imagine your life with them. Not because you are desperate. But because you are hopeful. In reality you know that they have seen your body and read your story and it will take a lot out of them to even hold you or kiss you. Living a life with you is a distant dream.

I don't like condolence messages. If being vulnerable makes me look like I am falling apart, then I don't want to do that. On the other end of the spectrum, I hate when people are happy for you or wish you well out of formality. Probably one of the reasons I hate birthdays. This year, I got many messages on LinkedIn from people I don't even know. I wanted to reply to each of them. But that would be a waste of my productive time. And we all know people on LinkedIn hate that.

It's either complete lack of intimacy or performance of intimacy. I want the real deal boss. You might ask what's real Anicca? Well, wherever I feel loved, that's real. The only time I feel real is when which I am engaged in some artistic work and of course when I am gifting myself little acts of self-love. Like taking an auto in a strange city and sharing a table with strangers while eating a full plate of food. Not even taking a photo of the food or the place. In my not taking a photo, it turned into a very intimate memory. Something I will replay in my head.

In the last month, I attended a literary festival, visited a new city, gave two talks and acted in my first short film as a professional actor. I can't even tell you how full I am with all of it right now. Life is a gift which keeps giving. But the minute I say this out aloud, a part of my fullness dies because I know I have to perform this happiness. That's difficult for me. Not because I don't want to share my happiness with people. But in the last few years I have realized that shared happiness isn't as natural as shared outrage or trauma.

I know whenever I go away from social media or write long farewell posts, I come out as a fool. People have a picture of me. As a very sad person who is drowning in some form of sadness all the time. I have only helped them by being vulnerable about everything in life. Anyways, they are free to build their own stories about me as I am to build my own. I am not just interested in hearing them out. I can neither confirm nor deny that I am happy at the moment. Nor can I comment on my sadness. Or grief. Longing. Life gave all of us a thing much before social media gave it to us - a private button. We should be free to use it now and then, especially in a world where we feel everyone is totally obsessed with our lives. And we have to return the favour by being obsessed about their lives. I am breaking that cycle. Right now.

The only thing that's allowed in my digital life are cringe reels and men making hundreds of reels of their wedding with songs from the movie Vivah. Banki yaar, kaam se kaam rakho.

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