Blow the Fear Away: Learn to Accept the Unexpected.
When I entered the coffee shop, there were the usual people…
… the chess-players rubbing dollar bills across their thighs, the crazies trying to talk sense to whoever comes by, and then there were those who sat staring into books and papers, computers humming as they took note of whatever transpired.
But today something was different, and by different, I mean there was someone I had never seen before. A hippie, if I ever knew one, dressed in flowers — her calves nakedly raising their fuck-you fingers to the snow whirling outside.
She asked me to take a card, and then she started talking. And it was not as much what she said as what I thought when she was saying it, ’60s music falling all around me, my phone vibrating but I refused to hear it, and when she was finished, she thanked me for listening.
Unexpectedness was the word I thought of, and it tasted sweet when I let my tongue tangle around its letters, keeping them together as coffee made the syllables float.
Then I checked my phone, message upon message and an old search, and I realized it had been way too long since I last felt that word in action. We do not do this these days, and many things we do solely to avoid its embrace.
And I have been shitty in this department, regardless of my trash talking and mantras, mumbling fucking technology whenever I stumble upon something new. I have searched the names of the girls I’ve been dating, looking through one social media platform after another.
I have used that map app on my phone. I have had a program calculate my daily calorie intake. And this is what we do in current society, individuals as well as governments and those corporations that just keep growing, becoming institutions — elements of what life really is.
Because we check everything out, making sure no surprises are awaiting us. We search for recipes and movie reviews. We scan people in airports and museums. We check backgrounds to calculate futures. And it seems clear that we are doing this because we assume that surprises are painful.
After all, it seems obvious that we want pleasure, or happiness, and then it seems equally clear that were we to believe that the surprises we might encounter would be pleasant, we would not be as eager to avoid being surprised.
On the contrary, we might welcome surprises, opening our hearts and letting them beat against our chests, hoping they will be strong enough to get through bone. But is this really the case, and should we believe surprises to be dipped in pain and then rolled across our bodies?
Maybe we should not, and perhaps we should reevaluate how we look at these things. After all, what you can find out by checking and scanning is not the whole truth, and might even be wrong.
Because what you see on social media profiles, in listed backgrounds, and on the map giving you the most efficient route, is how the creator of these things sees things.
Social media shows the manner in which the creator looks at friendship, relationships, and how your taste in music is supposed to be constructed. Listed backgrounds show exactly what the list is supposed to say, and leave everything else unsaid.
The most efficient route is directly connected to how the creator of the program defines efficiency. And this leaves out so much, ignoring things and neglecting others, and by using these services, you are conforming to these creators, and the way they see things.
And this does not only mean you lose a little bit of the way you see things, but also that you will never find out what else there might be. And this sucks majorly, and it sucks because it is not the way to nurse our individuality and creative spirits.
On the contrary, it is what makes us disappear in some collective puddle, losing ourselves as well as missing out on all that we could have had and been and wrapped our minds around.
Because you, as well as I, are more than those numbers and relationships statuses, and walking down to Chinatown can allow you to experience so much more if only you dare to walk without a map, deviating from the Bowery because maybe, just maybe, there will be something amazing awaiting you there.
There is more to this issue though.
Because when we live inside technology like we do, we reduce ourselves, becoming some virtual versions of copies, disappearing in the crowd like a cigarette dropped on the Astor place subway stop.
And what happens when this is complete is that we lose what makes us humans, and become something else. What this could be called I have no idea, and I do not want to know, because that would only strengthen the reality of it all.
There is a last thing to consider though — namely, what it can do to our society.
Because what it does is that it encourages a transition from one type of society to another, and I am not too sure this another is really the best we can do.
We can, after all, already see what the fear for unexpectedness has done, looking at the cameras draping our corners, as well as in the way our lives are constantly put under one of those looking glasses Alice once peeked through. And this will continue. This will become worse.
This is not to say, however, that you should just throw yourself from the cliff and hope that here is a mattress awaiting your landing. This is not to say, be naggingly optimistic about everything.
What it is saying is that maybe we should take a second to look around, and to question the programs we use as well as how we see the world.
What it is saying is that maybe we need to change, in order for society not to keep changing, transforming into this surveillance state where privacy is just another profile setting.
Dare to be surprised. Dare to lay down your smartphone for just a minute and look at the hippie across the table. Dare, motherfucker, and dare now.
Otherwise, we might see a future in which there is no such thing as invasion of privacy, because we will be mere numbers, and numbers cannot be intruded on.