“Hallo, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?”
“Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.”
― A.A. Milne
In preparation for my trip to Berlin in a couple of weeks I purchased a couple of outbound travel adaptors to facilitate the operation of my electrical appliances within a foreign grid. It got me thinking about how much preparation we all put into the feat of plugging ourselves into the foreign grids we dance with daily, and how little time and inclination we have to dance these steps with any authenticity. Not that I’m saying faking is a bad thing – I believe we all owe each other the odd ‘fake’ in situations where we just can’t get it up for someone else’s situation or news. That’s just good manners. But I do sometimes fantasise about how exciting it would be to have someone look me in the eye and say: ‘Don’t worry. I’m exhausted and disillusioned too and will be bullshitting my way through this entire day.’
I think we might be hard-wired for a certain amount of the aloofness with which we hold ourselves, and I believe we do need to be smart about who we give ourselves up to (and for how long). In evolutionary terms it was essential that we scan and compare, size up the competition, put on a bit of a show, in order to secure our survival. But now that we’re no longer tackling each other for a dinosaur knuckle to chew on it’d be nice to be a bit gentler with each other occasionally. Wouldn’t it?
One of my favourite philosophers, George Carlin, spoke of becoming a spectator, of the freedom that comes with disengaging from the fray, pulling your dog from the fight. I don’t think this means not caring. Ironically, I think it takes a great deal of courage to detach – to authentically interact whilst maintaining strict personal boundaries. Imagine the revolution that would occur if we taught our young people to maintain their personal boundaries, to value their privacy, to choose authenticity over photoshop. The possibilities for our species would be extraordinary.
In the meantime, it might be just as powerful on an individual level to just not worry, because everyone is bullshitting to some degree. And that’s okay.