This post is a follow up to my previous post, Why Do We Seek Attention So Pettily?
That post – which is, if you’re so inclined, available for your viewing pleasure – was about why people, especially in this modern, interconnected day and age, seek attention so pettily, much like the title suggests, really. Though, specifically, it was about how vague and one-sided, or, if you prefer, egocentric, our interactions with one another, as fellow human beings, have become.
And what I aimed to do in that post, which was attempt to answer the question of “why?” this is so, I failed to do. What a surprise, hey? (I’m self-perceivably known for running down tangent lane, in general, and so it’s not really a surprise – just to clarify).
Okay, fuck it, I’ve just been given a sign to start of this post afresh. And that sign has come in the unlikely form of a song that I’m listening to in a café, by an artist you probably know, Johnny Cash.
“I hurt myself today. To see if I still feel. I focus on the Pain. The only thing that’s real.”
When I walk around this desolate world, I am constantly bewildered by how creatures, so rich with perception and forms of communication, are so shallow to one another, so guarded, so conscious of looking the fool, so conscious of revealing just a little too much.
When we communicate with strangers, when we communicate with friends and family, and with loved ones – when we communicate – we communicate only what we think will paint us in favourable colours. We walk and talk and live behind walls dense as stone and unmoving as that which is eternal. Plagued with a sense of self-conscious apprehension, who we are is limited by the role we are expected to fulfil. When I speak to a person, I am not speaking to them – whatever that means – but instead I’m speaking to a baker, a barista, a barrister, a lover, a friend, a brother, a sister, a banker, a bludger, a clown, an asshole, someone beautiful, someone ugly – to a label. I am speaking to a label. I am speaking to an empty vessel, filled only with a desire to preserve this all so glorified “self;” an abstracted entity empty and devoid of life. I am speaking to the surface layer of that person, to the layer that they are comfortable revealing to this rather harsh world.
I mean, sure, the world can be and is beautiful in the same way that it is brutish and uncaring; yes, it is all these things at once. And no, not everyone occupying this planet is an abandoned shell; not everyone with whom I speak and feel and love has been totally swooped up by this forever consuming, capitalistic hedgehog of human existence whose concern lies only with furthering and “bettering” ones own external circumstances. But fuck me, how isolated have we become?
The answer, to the aforementioned question and the one posed in the previous post: So isolated so that our petty attempts at gaining attention are fuelled, I very much think, solely to remind us that we do indeed exist.
Our state of existence has become so desolate that we don’t even see each other any more.
When you walk around in a supermarket, it is a miracle if someone smiles at you, or bumps you and apologises, without expecting something in return. It is a miracle if someone pulls their shoulder up when you cross paths, so not to shoulder your person. It is a miracle when someone asks how you are, and actually means it, and actually stops to listen to your response.
We are living in, and having been living in for a long time, an age where we need to, as Mr Cash highlights, feel pain in order to validate our existence, to know that we are in fact alive.
We are collectively experiencing these existential crises, wondering, “who am I?” All because we don’t see each other, because we don’t feel each other, because we don’t appreciate or love or live with each other, but instead live for ourselves, by ourselves. And those we do care about, we smother and suffocate and do not let go for fear of losing what tiny fragment of connectedness we have acquired, and built up and on; for fear of losing what’s left of ourselves in those we are so vested in.
This life is one full of strangers; where we don’t know the names of our neighbours, where we barge through people because we are too afraid to say ‘excuse me,’ where I and me has replaced us and we.
And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t consider myself to be above this exponentially burgeoning phenom, not at all. I’m sitting here, in the corner of a café bustling with the ‘noids, on my laptop – writing about the state of human affairs, famished for authentic communication – instead of reaching out to someone and making a connection. And why? Well, because after having experienced the death of someone whose life I held dearer to my heart than anyone else, I see no point any more. I see no point to reach out to this empty species, as I was once in such a habit of doing, because I myself feel this emptiness so extremely.
But you know what? I’m going to eventually pull myself out of this all-consuming reverie, and will again, when I’m naturally ready, reunite myself with this world, because it can, and is, and very much will be, oh so beautiful.
At the moment, I myself am a stranger to this world. I have joined the weird ones in this self-destructive, individual bubble that are these abstracted, fantasies of world that we all collectively, but rather uniquely, live inside of. But this state, I cannot and will not bear for much longer.
Because a world full of strangers can only become one of friends if we all – each and every one of us – make that effort to transcend this hapless trench that is our own “self.” It is only in the mirror where we can first start to annihilate a world full of strangers to make way for anew – by first annihilating the stranger looking back at us, and making it into a friend.
Humans-are-lonely-creatures. And in a world so rich, this needn’t be so.