Autumn. Alternating drizzle and biting cold sun. Empty page waiting to be filled. Loose words skip-jump in my head, refusing to band together and create the dreaded sentences. There’s so much responsibility in a sentence. So many consequences to be drawn. So many strings attached, and connections made. A single word is free. Not necessarily from connotations, but largely from consequences. So much depends upon context. Just like people – a single person is so inconsequential. One only really exists and takes on life with its responsibilities and consequences, in relation with others.
I – a relic of the past, thinking of relations that no longer seem to matter. Online words are not felt to be consequential. Neither online relationships. Everything has become so flimsy and unreal. You can invent yourself, then reinvent yourself, and nobody might ever know the truth. Even you might never know who you are. And yet everybody is so obsessed with identity. The irony.
Perhaps the obsession stems from the fact that nobody really has a fixed identity anymore. A desperate attempt at fixing something that has lost all mooring?
And I? I observe from the sidelines, wondering how I could ever fit into this puzzle. I am a mismatched jigsaw puzzle, stuck in the wrong box. I feel more human than product. I cannot fathom “branding myself” online. Neither “optimizing” myself. I am only human, after all. What’s the use?
I actually feel as if I’m lying if I try to only write positive things on social media. Not everything in life is rosy, and I am old and bitter enough to know. Why would I write meaningless posts and take meaningless photos of myself just to get attention? Why would I glamourize every aspect of my life that’s neutral or better, and lie the rest away? Whom does that benefit?
Everybody else speaks with such certainty – and I cannot. Complex problems caused by complex backstories demand complex solutions. But nobody seems willing to investigate that, and my voice drowns in the crowd. Online discussions are out of the question. Physical ones fare a bit better, except that it has become so difficult to meet someone in order to have those discussions.
I see myself overtaken by younger people before I’m even thirty. I wonder how much of their energy is a lie they have come to believe. And how did they come to feel so entitled? Entitled to be seen, heard – and worse, understood. Entitled to my time and energy – resources I barely have for myself in the first place.
It is ironic that I – the autistic programmer – should be the one to praise face-to-face encounters in a time when the rest of the world seems to want to avoid them. And no, sitting opposite one another behind a private screen, does NOT constitute a face-to-face encounter. There’s not one, but TWO barriers in-between after all.
I won’t purport to have ever been good at social encounters. But I have come to the realization that a lack of them is an even more terrifying scenario. I would much rather explain myself face to face than try to “brand” myself online. I think this goes back to the “human, not product” thing. I don’t want to be branded. I want to be accepted for what I am – and that does not include glorifying a life that has ups and downs as it should.
I am a fossil. A thinking, feeling fossil that cannot adopt to the 21st century, and balks at the mere thought.
But when I try to express my concerns, I am brushed off like a fly. I am inconsequential. Online opinions are inconsequential. And the only way to get attention and start a discussion is to be controversial. But I think too much to be controversial. Because to me – words matter. Sentences matter. Expression matters. And the people behind those expressions matter too. And the patterns formed by their presence and their expressions wrap around my brain like a spider’s web, refusing to give it peace for the foreseeable future while it insists on analyzing every little detail of an encounter.
Meanwhile, the others who were involved have scattered with the wind – have found something else to alight upon. And I am forgotten by them, though they will never be forgotten by me.
And until my last breath – words and sentences flutter through my brain as fragments of memories – while other people can rest peacefully at night, since they hardly remember something so inconsequential.