Oh my, how many times did I play that game as a new mother…. There were countless delights in the delight and giggles of my newborn son. I loved watching my son take his turn, cover his eyes, and then swiftly moving his hands away. Staring at me, wide eyed, with the expression of “Mom, I was here the whole time”, laughing as I pretended that I could not see him.
My brother, when he was young, used to close his eyes when he wanted to be alone (no matter how many people were in the room with him). He was completely convinced (I believe) that if he could not see us, that we were no where near him.
People were and are always present to each other. This is true, even if you adopt some sort of frantic philosophy in which you would argue that everything is not real. That my brother was, in fact, alone and/or there was no one in front of my son when he had his eyes covered.
I thought about these times after I read this article the other day.
I find humans to be fascinating, we are social beings. There must be some kind of thinking that has an application to technology and how we tend to act towards each other. I mean, why do we act so terribly when we can’t see the face of the other… trolls, for example, thrive on this, I would argue that they depend on it.
I’ve been told that gossip serves a crucial social role for us humans. Gossip moderates our social behaviour… and I think that it applies to this in a certain context. So, imagine if you will, how easy it would be to scold someone you know via text or email if you did not have to see them. One would put their scorn into a few words and be as clear, concise and I might argue brutal… after all we want to make sure the point gets across.
This message puts the other end of the social interaction on the defensive. It is more likely than not, that a series of texts or emails get exchanged with a defensive end and an aggressive end. For delicate social relationships, this is probably not the best way to go about communicating.
This is so hard for people like me who hate talking on the phone. I prefer a text, or an email. I tend to not even want to talk to people. I am an introvert.
This is a modern day reliance that tends to be abused. When I sit on a board or committee, I tend to default to this. I have noticed that feelings get hurt so much more quickly over text or email. I know that I have been on the hurt end. I know I have also been on the giving end…. though not usually in giving of a complaint, but in pursuing a conversation.
So, I ponder the reliance I myself have on technology to communicate my feelings. I am trying to move away from it. Of course, I have this (these, actually) blog(s), they are a public written communication. And my blog is also subject to vitriol and complaint.
Text, email, and even blogs are devoid of any kind of social interaction. When we speak we can at the very least know that the subtle intonations are being heard (even if misheard). When we write, sarcasm doesn’t usually translate. When we speak, there is a possibility we can react to body language. When we text, we don’t.
So much is inferred through sight and hearing. I can see if the person I am speaking to has outward signs of having a bad day. I can hear if someone is making a joke. And though people miss these cues often when in person or over the phone, we are less likely to miss them than if we text.
In the days of “The FaceBook”, Twitter, email, text, instant message… we have lost the physical interface.
If you consider things like Facebook, Twitter, or even blogs you can see how there is a modicum of backlash. Will we learn how to do this better?
When will learn to be more gentle with one another?
“In effect, the cost of being who you are is that you can’t possibly meet everyone’s expectations, and so, there will inevitably, be external conflict to deal with- the friction of being visible.”
The opposite, the friction of being invisible, is that you are unable to meet you own expectations and thus there is great internal conflict.
I don’t know that one way is better of the other, it is a balance of the two, the totality of the friction of being.
Last night I was part of a panel of speakers for a women’s membership organization that I belong to. The group is struggling with member retention and one of the areas they are focusing on is creating a culture of acceptance.
Acceptance is an interesting word to use, though a good one.
Acceptance does not mean that I freely love and enjoy all that passes my path. It is more like a time to observe. Not everything will make me happy. And I will need to be allowed my opinion. And acceptance means that I have to work at not letting it bother me.
Oh would that that be easy. I can still list of things that are the actions of others had a direct affect on me and for which I am still not happy. I have accepted the situations. I am dealing with them as such, but acceptance also means navigating the complexities of the “friction of being”.
I am choosing, for example, not to speak to my aunt right now. It is for a variety of reasons, springing from her and her husbands choice to not have interaction with my brother, coupled with her saying that she will not acknowledge that my cancer diagnosis was the result of HPV and will instead tell everyone that it was because I am a DES daughter. To me, her choice speaks of being ashamed of my diagnosis, after all it has been called the whore cancer. Add to this the fact that she was insulted that I did not thank her enough in a blog post and cried to my mother who proceeded to lecture me via phone, email and text about how insensitive I had been.
I still speak to my mother, but the conversations are related solely to my son as she is his grandmother and I will not interfere with that relationship. I answer her when she brings up the fact that I am choosing not to speak to my aunt right now, but my mother calls me hateful.
Actually, it is about choosing gentleness.
I can’t be ashamed of my diagnosis and anyone that puts me there can’t be in my circle right now. I still cry when I think about the whole thing; the diagnosis, my surgery, the good, the bad, the gentle, the insensitive, the whole mess.
I can’t be around people who flutter about in their own narcissism.
I suppose, though, that it could be argued that I am in a bout of fluttering about in my own pool of narcissism… but in that respect who isn’t.
I see this more about choosing things that lift me up, rather than bring me down. I am still choosing gentleness in this who friction of being.
If you go back to my first posts you will find them pass word protected. The reason for that is that at the time I was stuck in the middle of a melee of the sort where women behave badly against each other. I was receiving threatening calls at home, and by email, people were speaking cruelly and irresponsibly about the group of women I was working with at the time.
It was ugly… it was a very brutal demonstration of how women love to rip each other apart. It is sick, and I say that as I admit to having done that very same thing,
I don’t understand why this happens. It is almost a cruel joke. My mother might argue that it is how we keep our behavior in check. We won’t behave outside a norm for fear that we are gossiped about or something like that. Though I think she has witness women being nasty to other women as well, and would admit it is a curiosity and even cruel.
So, this is my new safe place. I have to be honest and say that I am not 100% fond of WordPress… mostly because it is not where I began my blogging life… it is not where I chronicled my pregnancy, my life as a new mother and a human navigating a cruel world. I have a loyalty to where it all began, though it is more out of pure sentimentality I suppose.
I wonder if I should import everything here and just change homes?
I just want more freedom to write honestly and I just can’t do that over at my original home.
in-fucking-situ (at least I hope… the word micro-invasion is hanging out there too).
A cause for celebration. Really. They say.
But holy fucking shit, calling an oncologist for an appointment for yourself is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, Not even someone who could use a strong life lesson or a swift kick in the butt.
You get that call. The one that gives you the pathology report and tells you next steps and it is so heavy and burdened that the air gets thick and it is almost impossible to breathe. Partly, I wonder in retrospect, if is so that you don’t miss a word about what you are being told.
The call to the overly cheerful oncology office to book your appointment.
The calls to those you love. Your husband, your mother. You aunt.
Contemplating how to make the calls to your other loved ones; your father, your cousins, your friends.
Return calls. the news spreads. You get calls from your brother, A message from a professor from when you were back in medical school (who is now a close colleague to your mother).
Pathology reports faxed. scanned. emailed.
Decisions to be made,
What do you tell your young children so they can navigate the stress they know you are feeling without giving them scary words that will make things worse.
What do you tell your friends. How do you tell your friends. Do you tell your friends? It is easier to tell strangers.
How do you navigate not knowing what the oncologist will say without Googleing yourself sick.
And again, priorities re-mulled.
Fighting the tendency to blame yourself.
Trying to be strong because you need to be for others, because the last thing you need is to take care of someone else when this is about you (and not them).
Trying not to listen too closely.
Wondering if you will lose friends. Knowing you will (I’ve worked in cancer, it happens too often) and wondering who it will be.
Wondering what do you do. Do you burden friends with the news?
Having to deal with the part of myself that feels socially awkward and introverted.
Remembering to breathe.
Philip K Dick said that cancer was “the process of creation gone wild…”.
Thoughts of prudence and of recklessness.
The mantra of thinking “it could be worse” repeatedly. intermittently. nauseatingly.
So, I left this comment: I am a bullfighter’s daughter. I feel for all of those men and their families. The bulls did what they were bred to do.
But after all these years, I still get sick to my stomach when I reply to these things and/or bring up my familial ties to bullfights.
I still so vividly recall one day after bullfighting came up in my college English class and people were saying so many things that I knew to be incorrect that I spoke up and corrected them. After class, a woman in her 50’s that was in the class with me came up to me and said “You and your family disgust me”, she then spat on me (my feet, actually) and left before I could have replied. Admittedly, I was pretty speechless.
I can understand why people hate bullfighting, it is so in your face with forces of nature that humans tend to ignore. But, I am so lucky to have seen a very different side (through my father and our bull ranch where we raised fighting bulls), one that is so much more impassioned with things like respect and admiration between two very different animals (the human and the bovine).
I think that if there is a good side to being subjected to the vitriol of those who loathe bullfights… I know what it is like to be bullied (isn’t that an interesting phrase to use here). In my case, I did not choose bullfighting, it is what my father loves with an immense passion. I love my father, I have to include that in our relationship, I have had to come to peace with it, to dig deep and find out why and strangely enough it is through that process that I have learned that every time I want to react strongly to something I know that I also need to dig deeper (hard to remember, but it is there), to know that there is always more to the story. I have to be gentle, I have to love and most of all… I have to learn how to forgive. It is sure hard when people spit at you though.