Two parallel streams of thought, combined into one post.
Stream 1: Perception
For the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring the concept of perception – how our brains choose to take specific sensory stimuli and perceive meaning from them. For instance, when I try to perceive my friend, Samantha, I recall the blueness of her eyes, the prosody of her voice, the way she moves her hands. In doing a similar exercise with my top fifty people, I realize that for over 40% of them, my primary perception of them is digital – the specific spelling mistakes they make, the way they use emojis, how quickly they respond to my IMs, whether they use capital letters or not, their name spelled out as I see the “H is typing…” on Whatsapp.
Stream 2: Transience of friendships
I’ve beaten myself up over being a fickle person, especially when it comes to friendships. People that were incredibly important 20 years ago are entirely forgotten now. Batches of friends have come and gone, each one more promising than the next, yet the story often ends the same way. I understand this logically. When we share a context like school or work, not only do we have a lot in common to bond over, we’re also co-located, which makes spending time together quite easy. Once the context changes (as it must), investment increases and return declines, and our internal capitalist walks away, letting the relationship die on the vine.
A new type of friendship
The merge of these two streams is the recognition of an entirely new type of friendship – i.e. relationships formed in the physical world but almost entirely transitioned to the digital world. Friends from prior places of work, or school, or a random meeting in a foreign country, are now comfortably settled in a snug spot on Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp.
I have observed that I “text message” approximately 300 times a day. I call BS on phones leading to personal disconnection. I am connected all day, in the best way possible, with friends who would otherwise probably be non-friends because of lack of shared context. The ease of being able to have a pulse of connection in the middle of the day, after a stressful meeting, in the loo whilst taking a shit, in the Starbucks line, lights up my entire day.
Our conversations are deep and wide, funny and vulnerable. The 2D nature of this medium makes for more honest conversations, more silly conversations, more flexible conversations.
Here’s a sampling from my phone over the last month, just to make the point more obvious.
Conversation 1: Right after an insanely boring meeting
A: “Check this out ”
A: “Hilarious but also looks like an expensive prank”
B: “How much is a dildo?”
A: “I’m guessing like $20 for a cheap one. Even if they found a bulk deal for $8, that’s over $100 in dildos”
B: “They should donate them to prison”
A: “Haha great idea”
B: “Where else could dildos be donated?”
A: “All girls school?”
B: “They make park benches from recycled plastic. Why not make one with dildos?”
A: “Oh man, that’d be fun to sit on.”
A: “Vatican people would probably be happier if they accepted a shipment of dildos every once in a while”
B: “Stick to plastic penii instead of small boy penii? Definitely”
Conversation 2: While waiting at the airport
P: “I want money. All the money.”
Q: “Ok 😊”
P: “But in the meantime, please suggest some good books.”
Q: “What type of books are you in the mood for?”
P: “Books that are jolts to the heart.”
Q: “Scary jolts or sad jolts?”
P: “There are other types of jolts too.”
Q: “Like romance? Puke”
Conversation 3: While folding laundry
A: “I feel like I’m drowning”
B: “Ugh, I’m sorry”
B: “When your mind is racing with thoughts and you feel like you’re drowning with sadness, there’s always a part of you that is observing you having this experience. This part of you is always quiet, always calm, just observing, not participating. It’ll remain alive as along as you do, and it will always be calm. Sometimes we have to reduce ourselves to this Observer to feel peace, to regroup, to find a way to wake up the next day and go at it again.”
A: “I don’t think I’ll ever be happy again”
B: “But can you find, create, and take notice of moments of joy?”
A: “Moments doing what?”
B: “Well…like watching Southern Charm, or eating cake”
Conversation 4: While doing groceries in a pissed off mood
A: “My manager just doesn’t understand how to work with a Creative”
B: “What’s a Creative?”
A: “You know…like me…I’m a Creative.”
B: “What do you create?”
A: “That’s not important – I connect dots”
B: “What type of dots?”
A: “Just random stuff…it’s about the creative process.”
B: “Can you help me understand this process?”
A: “It’s different for everyone – sort of hard to explain if you’re not a Creative.”
B: “Ok. Perhaps I can understand it in terms of inputs/outputs. What is the the end-product of this process? A poem, a story, an animation, a document, code?”
A: “You sound like my manager.”
B: “I’m sorry.”
A: “I should go.”
B: “Yeah, ok…hope you feel better.”
B’s inner rant on the drive home (guess what, B is me :-))
“When did Creative become a country, with citizenship restricted to rare unicorns that poop sparkles, and an immigration ban on the masses who are clearly too ordinary to understand a concept that can’t be described with any rational language.”
“Doesn’t creating an imaginary box, then labeling it with capital C Creative, then putting oneself in it fundamentally challenge the concept of creativity? Or have I been wrong this entire time that creativity denies and defies the existence of all boxes.”
“Even if I can be convinced to believe in the Creative, shouldn’t it be a requirement to create things if you are a Creative. Objects, physical or digital that others can interact with?”
“Is it pedestrian of me to think that Creativity without impact on the world is entirely narcissistic and a waste of human energy?”
Time for dinner.
Watch some Succession.
Let this day be over.
oooh…Nadya just text, lemme see what’s up with her…