I recall a Twitter question that asked: “What is your definition of your best life?” I answered something along the lines of “I don’t think I believe in a best life. There’s only one life: the one you’re living right now.”
It’s been a couple years since this exchange, but you can see it stayed with me. Particularly in the last year or so when “your best life” has become the latest tag line to describe enjoying yourself or checking off an item on the ever-growing “this is what your life should look like” check list.
What’s changed since I answered the “best life” question back then? I for sure don’t believe in a “best life.”
“Your Best Life” is a Scam.
“Your Best Life” was invented by the self-help industry* and reinforced by aspirational social media marketers who get paid as long you think they’re an expert on making your life better.
Or as one friend put it: “‘You can overcome this and show other people it can be done.’ Like a pyramid scheme. ‘Now buy my service so I can afford these overseas trips that convince you I’m living my best life and you can, too.'”
Those of us not in the “sell you my best self” industry have adopted the term as a way to brand ourselves. To show the world we have a life worth living; love and travel and laughter and hashtag self-care and all the other life-conditions-as-accomplishments we’re taught to chase.
When I consulted my Tribunal, I realized I wasn’t alone. They, too, are exhausted by the litany of “best lives” parading up and down their Instagram feeds. They let loose on it all, from travel photos to photography skills as a love language. Their identities will remain anonymous. Comments that aren’t mine appear in italics.
Here were our top “best life” pet peeves.
On Color-Coordinated Travel Photo Shoots:
I hate Formation Vacation photos so much. LIKE A DAMN WEDDING. Hashtag “excellence” for collectively wearing blue.
People travel half way around the world to ignore the natives and pretend to be Beyonce in the desert.
On Hashtag Relationship Goals:
In Miami, we saw this tall lanky ass nigga bent at the waist so his 5’3″ girlfriend could look beautiful with a filter. It’s dumb. He looks dumb. You look dumb. Y’all aren’t having fun.
Couple photos that are about as carefree and candid as Beyonce’s current run of “outfit of the day” photos. In both those cases all I can think is “How much time did you waste getting the perfect laugh? Did your food get cold?”
Every fad diet-sponsored post disguised as a faux inspirational before and after.
Just a constant stream of “this is how I’m going to be better” and I’m like “Just do it already.” I don’t care about these constant reminders of your intentions. If you’re busy screenshotting and photographing self-care, how exactly are you taking care of yourself?
One thing we all agreed on? How staged everyone’s lives appear. There’s a difference between “Hold up. This is a dope moment. Let me capture it real quick” and “Let’s spend a half-hour staging a dope moment for our respective Instagram posts.” Our final ruling: we are uninterested as life as a continuous “Hey! Look at me be happy!” photo shoot.
[*] Speaking of the self-help industry, I highly recommend reading this. The New Yorker: Improving Ourselves to Death