The New York Times recently reported that "Let It Go" is a phenomenon unto itself, "producing a level of passion and exuberance in children the like of which parents have never seen." They neglected to mention 30-something women.
You hear it everywhere. Ringing out at wine bars across the nation, at the end of yoga class, see it taped on the dashboard of an excessively literal friend's car. Ding your manicure, lose your home in a sinkhole -- the instructions women are giving each other is the same: Let it go. Less because we're down to party with children's show tunes, more because maybe what we seriously want is an I-have-too-much-on-my-plate anthem. With all the emotional information we're disseminating on social media, it struck a chord. It's punctuating most of our conversations, and if Pixar could collect a licensing fee on the way thirty something women talk to each other, they'd be worth way more than $7.4 billion.
As part of the generation of women instructed by Wilson Philips to "hold on," we're (ostensibly) fully-formed adults, in our 30s, thrilled by an anthem that instructs the converse.
I have to wonder, while belting it out with my friend with the silky, vanilla blonde hair and new home she bought, what is "it" we have to let go of? Our expectations? Our desire for control? Security? Or the "kingdom of isolation" technology. No wonder we get a cheese plate and two glasses of wine and start howling "can't hold me back anymore." Because in reality, we are held back. We're looking at computer screens, frozen by our own keystrokes in the past.
I'm chased by browsed shoes (thanks Zappos) and past relationships. OK, maybe not "chased" but all I have to do is push a few buttons to find out that the last guy I dated started seeing a woman who posts lots of crafting pictures and has no sense of irony. I should not know this. This is not good for anyone. But letting go of your love story, even if it's no longer yours, requires a level of restraint my friends and I can't seem to muster.
We laugh together as we click on exes. Facebook is a video game for women. Catfishing ourselves. I imagine the halcyon days of our parents, giddy for high school reunions to see how fat their prom dates got as I sit with a friend and we look at the ex's trip last week to Zihuatanejo with his new girlfriend. The real time of him blithe and margarita-holding, gutting. How do we let go of anything when two clicks away, there it is. It's forcing us to develop a restraint muscle, a sort of anti-click on the Pandora's box. These digital footprints won't go away.
A relationship expert once told me that you can't speak to a man you're breaking up with for at least 30 days, because just the sound of the ex's voice will throw you back into the foggy mental couldawouldshoulda. I have to wonder, what is the effect of say, river rafting pictures? Not that I've ever you know... seen them, and then say, read the comments. (Her: "all dressed up and no where to go!" They're in life vests. Actually going river rafting so... never mind.)
Some days, it feels like our online identities are creating us. Just because I looked at an expensive moisturizer on Monday but instead opted to invest in new brake pads, does not mean it's over. Because on Tuesday, I'm taunted by the moisturizer. It pops up again. I have to sift through my logic and decide "no" again. I'm evaluating my choices twice as often. There is no clean slate. With all this technology, I have to trust my gut more than ever. Which feels positively exhausting.
So maybe when we sing, it's less an I-have-too-much-on-my-plate anthem, and more I've-gone-to-a-buffet-that-I'm-not-really-invited to. We just have to be honest about what part of us online wants to connect and what part of us wants to cringe in superior snobbery. The thing to let go of is the masochistic trigger finger.
I have no idea what to do about Zappos.