is my truth
And your truth
When my truth
and your truth
do we share
M. A. Pierre
Next year, in far off 2023, I turn 30. My 20’s have been a ride, to say the least. I’d say, though, from casual conversation and paying attention to people who have already experienced their 20’s, 30’s, and further on, that life being a “ride” and having “ups and downs” is nothing new for anyone. Why others ask others to experience and react to infinitely complex lives, as complex as their own, in the same way as theirs, appears to be an issue that certainly affects our ability to find common ground in an increasingly loud space.
There are a lot of voices to be heard, take it from someone whose passion, vocation, and arguably, job, are to listen – and listen well. Through my work, I take on an overall philosophical perspective (see Moon and Blackman 2014), built through many years of formal and informal professional and personal practice, study, experience, and most importantly, self-reflection. I don’t say the last words with any meaning of ill will. Rather, it’s a frank and direct statement that above all the learning I do, I do believe it’s rather the act of careful questioning of “what I know” and “how I know it,” as well as “how I act and/or acted” – and a healthy appreciation of my own professional, personal, mental, physical, and/or other limitations.
Everyone has biases, and a healthy awareness of one’s’ own, while it cannot, as those who work in justice, inclusive of the much-maligned and arguably misused – and even at times, weaponized – justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) field, might argue that at least self-awareness can help with keeping oneself and others happy, and wholeheartedly so. How we get to the point of understanding each other, and our many complex and interwoven needs, wants, desires, and the many that came before in the endlessly complex lives that people live, is rather a good question. It’s one that’s being asked at many different scales, all at once, in the experiment that is this new, hyperconnected, and hyper-communicative global environment.
TikTok (and other) social media influencers’ concern, at least through their efforts to market to others, appears to be one of “genuineness”. Keeping up appearances is difficult, as new and incoming, seasoned influencers tend to find out. In fact, like the many times I question pages and accounts with clickbait titles, one could say that I too, in my searches in the digital world, like on social media, but also on other platforms, and more broadly, in institutions, are one for “genuineness” – or rather, at least straightforwardness and a willingness to be up front about potentially uncomfortable realities. This, I find, does make sense when mirrored against other concerns, particularly those within those who study and work with mental wellbeing – that loneliness is rife and a growing concern, despite the paradoxical growth in our ability to be ever connected to those near us, and those far away.
Evidently, a societal approach to avoiding conflict entirely, through the creation of harshly-enforced spaces and labels, without also considering the needs of others, including the need for any space to express one’s own concerns, feelings, air disputes, and hopefully reach the other side – resolution. Avoidance of conflict, while immediately relieving, a psychologist might opine, does not achieve resolution, at least fairly, for both parties. While this isn’t always possible, a rocky path to grow undue tension and/or hard feelings, further avoidance, and an altogether breakdown of a relationship, is to avoid conflict in its entirety. This is one path to ensuring that no one’s needs, whether emotional, intimate, and/or otherwise, are met in an interpersonal relationship.
In my subjective experience, relationships, including professional ones, at the larger scale, including those that occur both in formal and informal settings, tend to mirror those on the interpersonal in some way. As with influencers, professionalism, I like to say, is “an act.” Certainly, I’d argue, that shaking hands and being cordial with someone that one may not personally like, but that one still respects, needs, and/or appreciates, whether personal and/or professionally, requires some degree of dramatic skill. A gander in drama class, as has been floated, along with a general appreciation for the arts and humanities, is rather useful, at times, in navigating life across many domains.
In a world where people increasingly openly share feelings of isolation despite having the world at ones’ fingertips, it might not be as much about what we say, or even the very conflicts that result, whether or not they were preventable, but of our ability to find (and/or lack of thereof) to find common ground and achieve resolution, despite many hang ups that prevent this. This is not something I see as isolated to the society/societies I have grown up in and/or lived in, but rather globally, because it’s hard to see the world getting any less communicative. The irony of this is not lost on someone with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or whatever it is you’d like to call it, because I’ve both been called “too chatty” and “too quiet.”
Our ability to find global peace and resolution might in fact start with openly listening to, and being kind, compassionate, and respectful to our fellow human, despite differences. Diversity can lead to conflict by the very nature of diversity. Having different ideas about the world isn’t new. Having the ability to share ones’ ideas about the world in different, new, and exciting ways, arguably, is. Either way, the brave new technological, chatty, and low attention world is here.
“Thinking is just a fancy word for changing your mind,” – The 12th Doctor, Doctor Who (2005), Season/Series 9, Episode 8
Do please remember the human on the receiving end.