Goodbyes & Popularity [Year in Taiwan, Ed. 3]

京鼎小館 TaipeiWhile seated on Taipei’s Dunhua Main Line bus heading home, next to a Caucasian man restlessly swiping through a dating app whose UI I didn’t recognize (Grindr came to mind but a Google search shows yellow not pink), I nearly missed my stop, stumbling down the aisle and likely shocking the mostly elderly passengers with how I managed not to trip and fall as the bus screeched to a halt at my last-minute press of the button signaling to stop. I fumbled for my coins, as I had forgotten my EasyCard pass in my other bag. I didn’t want to see if the bus driver looked annoyed as this absent-minded girl with iPhone in hand finally alighted.

I’d like to think this behavior isn’t like me, because rarely do I find myself both as deep in my thoughts and so urgently cognizant of such thoughts as to record them immediately.

In short, I was crafting this tweet:

Is it a lost cause to reconcile the hyper self-awareness being bad/awkward at goodbyes with actually being decent at it? Whether daily casual ones or the heavier adieus, goodbyes mostly suck, but I also am convinced a “good goodbye” exists & I somehow respect such people more.

My dad and I had just said our goodbyes, after his five-day trip to Taipei before stopping by Guangzhou to visit his relatives. And while Dad will be Dad, my rushed goodbye to catch the bus brushed aside whatever annoyances I had during his visit and brought to the forefront the things we still had yet to discuss, particularly a family issue I realized too late that I still felt needed a discussion.

And as if personal issues did not consume enough of my thoughts, I caught myself tapping through Instagram stories before bed, something entirely too toxic for mental health and yet feeds the Fear of Missing Out on societal trends and conditions of which we would otherwise be ignorant. At the very least, that sounds like a decent excuse for the superfluously odd mix of emotions felt when using social media.

When I saw Instagram stories from a particularly popular girl of a birthday party with her carbon-copy girlfriends, especially a video of all of them standing on chairs holding phones to get that aerial shot of an apparently Insta-worthy table set-up, I rolled my eyes.

While I cannot totally dismiss social media like some people (because after all, social media remains an incredibly useful tool for learning from important scholars and, yes, celebrities you admire), I do find that so much of society exists as a popularity contest, where those who grew up privileged with money, class, education, etc., are particularly competitive and often even blind to what has become a natural part of their lives.

I read this Twitter thread also before bed, and it wasn’t until now that I came to connect its relevance to how I felt after seeing those girls Instagramming the same shit.

I highly encourage you to read it. Basically, the academic believes that journalists, as well as those in circles across professions, often write not for the public but for other journalists. To me, that can extend to friends using social media, whose purpose is literally to share not to the public but for their friends. How natural it is to boast about one’s oft-mundane life and various “achievements.” Don’t get me wrong—I myself am guilty of it, but there are crucial differences that admittedly sound elitist when spelling them out, so allow me to be more vague when I say parochial mindsets are only further pronounced in tight-knit groups. Yes, similar interests are the foundation of many friendships, but it is also why I appreciate situational or childhood friendships so much more. It is not about how you all love Instagram or are all self-proclaimed foodies; but rather, it’s because enough values align that a bond can be formed and maintained without people becoming annoying copies of each other, trapped in a gilded bubble.

Anyway, this post was a bit of a mixed bag, and while I had planned to share more about my dad’s visit, I am content with having ranted about what seems like actually a fixed aspect of society. In other words, bubbles, whether gilded or not, are part of life. We feel comfortable and trusting in these bubbles, but sometimes the frustration gets the best of me. Also, I should get to crafting a “farewell formula” to pull out whenever needed. You know, the crucial things to say before parting so as to seem like a put-together human being. Any tips would be appreciated 😛