Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I've been thinking about connections. It's funny how applicable the duality of the term is- we talk all the time about getting the perfect signal, about having reception, about coming into contact. Several months ago, while woozy from the bourbon and what it brings out, I got to thinking about how many connections we have, how many we make, and how many we break. I suffered over my blinking cursor, trying to find the right syntax, the right set of words that could capture something so ultimately indefinable. That's when I remembered a quick note I had made in a small notepad, just a dashed-out bit of cursive written to waste ink and time.

It said, in the sloppiest scrawl imaginable:

"Our hearts are satellites."

And they are- they really are! It's difficult to deny that we humans, among ourselves, we have something going on beneath the surface. We are all attune to each other. We can sense when something's wrong, we get a feeling about a place or a person or a thing, we get mixed signals from conversations and from misreading texts, Tweets, and emails. YouTube's slogan is "Broadcast Yourself," but don't we already do that anyway? The clothes we wear, the words we choose, the friends we make, the requests we approve or deny, they're all a signal we fire off, in the hopes that something or someone will latch on. We miss people, so we call them, or write them- synchronicity exists! When you're thinking of someone or something, how does that thought pop into your head? Physiologically it's firings of synapses, but something had to spark them off. LIfe is a constant stream, with peaks and troughs, and it's all in the amplitude.

Conversely, why do we tune out what we tune out? What do we choose? How do we choose? What makes us decide when we want to change the channel, metaphorically or not? For the purposes of this moment I'm speaking strictly of the online experience, but it can be applicable universally. I've always been the type to try to please everyone. I think I'm amiable, friendly, and all-around a righteous dude. So why do I lose friends? Why do people unfollow me, or remove me from their friends' lists? Some people would rather not think on that level- they don't need to know or don't want to know when someone's retracted their interest: they might be the ones that are better off.

I have unfollowed, I have denied friend requests, and in the past I have waded through and unchecked the boxes, but mostly they've been spam accounts- I usually confirm anyone I've met in person. But especially with the idea of removing friends, it's the pruning that does it for me- you had to go through your lists, you clicked several menus, and you confirmed I didn't matter anymore. What was it about me that didn't make the cut?

I don't mean to turn this into a "woe-is-me" rant about losing followers or denied requests on social networks, because these things have and will happen again. I'm just fascinated with the dichotomy of the treatment of connections and friendships. It's just a a thought, just a new experience brought on by the new American loneliness- when we can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, our actions don't give us pause. Imagine it translated to real-life: how often do people actually end friendships face-to-face? Usually the catalyst for something like that is an unforgivable trespass, but rarely do we think about someone we haven't talked to in years, only to say, "We're not friends anymore." How horrible would that be- what a bad taste it would leave in people's mouth? But behind the screen, we can reach out and cut our losses, quell our numbers, and not bat an eye, because no one will ever notice.

Whether romantically or platonically, we want someone to take us in, to tune in, to care about who we are and what we're about. Feelings are a messy business, and some people tamp them down better than others. It's a frequency that's hailed me for some time. I spend my days jotting down these aphorisms in my phone, on the back of envelopes, on whatever I can get my hands on because the data doesn't stop. We all need people, whether we admit it or not- we sign up for these networks and we make our choices because we want others to notice, to latch on, to accept the signals we give off. We put ourselves on display and sum ourselves up in clever little descriptions because we want to be. We need someone to listen, to notice, to like what we like and us for who we are. Somebody to tune in.

Our hearts are satellites, and we're all just looking for receivers.

1 comment:

Mxy said...

Heavy. I've been thinking about this stuff for a while, but I couldn't have put it so well. What an awesomely shitty world we live in. Cheers man!