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Making the personal interpersonal

September 26, 2007

I was inspired by something I read today to reflect back to the blog I
wrote yesterday.  The passage was about making writing
interpersonal by drawing out the connectedness of personal experiences
with the personal experiences of others. 

I was already concerned that what I wrote yesterday would come off the
wrong way, that my friends and family would be offended by my remarks
about our middle-class culture.  That was not my intention;
rather, my intention was to reveal an inner struggle that has been
playing out inside of me ever since I had a particular life-changing
experience.  I want my friends and family to know and understand
this struggle, which maybe they can’t do based on a critique of
middle-class culture–but that doesn’t mean that they can’t relate to
the ultimate feelings that result from it: 
feelings of occasional isolation, disconnectedness, the sense of being
misunderstood.  These consequent feelings are feelings that all people can relate to, no matter what the cause or reason.

There is an aspect of everyone’s personality or life experiences that
makes him or her feel
isolated, disconnected, or misunderstood in certain situations–at
least I imagine there must be.  People who’ve lost a parent must
feel extremely out of place at events
such as weddings and holidays, when those around them are absorbed in
celebrating their lives with their closest family members.  Those
with a physical feature that results in discrimination must often feel
singled out.  People
who value something that society or pop culture consistently devalues
must feel as if they have to hide their inclinations, making them feel
uncomfortable when people around them are cracking jokes about
something that is important to them. 

Although such experiences are very personal and unique, they
nonetheless can serve to bring people of very different backgrounds
together, for the feelings they arouse inside of us are very similar,
enabling us to understand and empathize with one another even when the
causative circumstances appear unalike.

I suppose that what I was trying to say, then, in my last entry is that
I, too, feel discomfort, isolation, and frustration very often in my
life; I am not always just the happy, optimistic person that most of
you know.  I am that person, too, of course; but there are other
things going on underneath the surface as well.

I invite you to share with someone–anyone–an experience or
characteristic of yourself that makes you feel these emotions,
too.  In doing so, you become part of a community of real people
who recognize that isolation, pain, remorse, discomfort, etc., are a
natural part of life, and that in sharing these feelings with one
another, we become closer. 

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One Comment
  1. I am not a blogger, I follow only two and both very sporadically (101 Cookbooks and Yarn Harlot).  Yours, I stumbled across via Kiva which is why I have listed my lender page as my website, although it of course does not qualify.  I generally don’t read blogs for one of two reasons, the much more prominent of the two is that people are idiots and I don’t much care for what most people have to say.  Those times when I stumble across someone I don’t think is an idiot, I tend to be sidetracked by larger than life questions – how cyber reality affects relationships, how crazy it is that only 20 years ago interesting people around the world lacked a public forum like this to meet and discuss and ultimately, how useless it all is because despite all this great contact interesting and intelligent people are suddenly exposed to, the world is largely worse off today than it ever was. 
    So what’s the point?  You sound interesting and intelligent, aware and focused, contemplating your role as a rich white woman in 2007 (I wouldn’t get too hung up on “middle class” as a classification, we must learn to think globally).  Well traveled, perhaps, concerned about the state of humanity in the 21st century, the destruction of the environment, the prevalence of war and hunger and anger and depression.  And then you ask of your readers to reflect, you say they will “feel relief in the sense of empathy you will gain by sharing”.  But will they?  Do you?  Is the internet, the bloggers universe, actually providing a forum for empathy and for connection between individuals around the globe?  Or are you just shouting into a void, much like the way we send radio signals into space – unfocused, random bits and bytes of information, hoping for, what?  For contact with another civilization?  With no plan for how to deal with the unlikely but possible reply, no way to process what it all means, and likely leading to our own self destruction.
    Revolutions, coups, nation building, philosophy, science, art – it all took place before the advent of the digital age.  Great minds managed to find each other and create great things with limited means.  Now, all these great minds are capable of finding each other with the help of google and have access to almost limitless resources, but where are the great things?  Where is the global revolution, the uprising against the evils of consumerism, of capitalism, of the oppression of governments and religions?  You could find thousands of blogs ranting about these topics, but all this shouting into the void is doing anything but creating the empathy you and others have been hoping for. 
    The infinity of the universe is mirrored in this cyber reality – the possiblities so mind bogglingly huge, so overwhelming, that apathy is the only sane response.  In the meantime, much the same as our brains have to ignore the concept of infinity in order to get on with life, we have to ignore the global community in order to focus on our own little lives, to be happy and content with the discovery of a new kind of washing powder or toothpaste flavor.  We are not built for this world, and the process of adaption (of evolution if you will), is a slow one.

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