Hardenbergia blossom against a trellis

Can you be social when you’re alone?

Is it possible to be sociable while you’re alone? Wouldn’t it almost be existing in a bubble of our own projection? Any connectedness or relationship only, perhaps, a figment of our imagination. Not that it “has” to be that way, but don’t our own thoughts have a tendency to occupy our minds a lot more than anything else?

Increasingly it seems we might live within realities of our own making – caught up in the narrative of our own personal movie, where each of us is the leading character and star of the show. As if “everything else” simply plays whatever role we’ve cast it in our storyline, rather than having an independent existence in its own right. This sense in which “life” is what we make of it: what we believe things mean for and about us.

Perhaps, as self-conscious beings, we have little choice? Naturally, our point of view seems likely to be our own: our situation, our concerns, our path, our relationships, our interests, our struggles, our feelings. The mind – the mental space – serving “us” by orienting everything else in relation to our own existence and understanding.

That we live in our own consciousness, our own perceptions and interpretations of their meaning, while the world, refracted through that lens, becomes our own version of events. In that, how much can we ever really know anyone else? Get past our own idea of “who they are” to meet with the reality of another being who’s just as complex as us.

Given the depth of human experience, how are we to go beyond that surface and create a sense of “who someone is” that’s flexible yet realistic enough to withstand any tendency to label, reduce or oversimplify the fluidity of all anyone actually is? Or, overcome our perhaps equally natural inclination to mainly view others in relation to ourselves: who they are to us, how much we have in common, or what we could gain.

Sometimes it seems we’re in perpetual competition over who gets to speak, to exist, within social interactions. As if we’re barely listening while we wait for the chance to be heard. As if others are only allowed as much space as we are in this strange balance sheet of mutual appreciation or mutual suppression. Maybe it’s simply hard to let another version of reality exist in our presence? Especially if we’re not entirely alike.

Communication and relationship can start to seem increasingly complicated, given how much our ideas and identities matter to us all. How, then, are we to truly know who others are? Get beyond our idea of them to flesh out that flattened image of their living personality. Let the past go to leave space for what’s happening now to emerge before our eyes. Don’t we all seek recognition? To be known by others.

It just seems, especially with technology, that we’re often thrown back into our own minds and ideas; leaving less and less room for seeing people as they really are.

Notes and References:

Can “how we relate” really change?
Might we lose our social muscles?
These ideas we have of one another
Giving others space to be
Words & relating as paths to change
What does it mean to be tolerant?
Do we live in different worlds?
Ways of being & what’s getting left out
Can each be true to themselves?

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