Posted in Of Psyche

Of The Comfort of Strangers

An Opportunity (Courtesy: Pixabay)

Every stranger is an opportunity to redeem yourself. – Me, at various times in my blogging career.

I was going through singing apps today. Had some spare time after an insanely busy few weeks, and so I idled away with karaoke. Recorded a terrible rendition of “Inbetween Days” by The Cure, and not an altogether tragic version of “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush on the Smule app. But, I wasn’t as free and happy as on the other times I do karaoke. For I always sing by myself, for myself, because I am quite terrible at it, but this app was just too clever and social for me. I couldn’t sing with full abandon, because it kept recording my face and asking me to share my recording with the world. Why would I want to do that? Why would anybody want to do that?

Why are we so free with everything we do? This is not going to be a rant about social media, because I’m past that. On the contrary, it is going to be about trust. Why do I trust the great unknown with my face? Or my singing? Or my breakfast?

I’d understand if it was just among people you personally know. Or about dating. But, this is more. I am sharing the most mundane, spontaneous, uncultivated things about myself, and all I expect is a gold star or an approving emoji. I am sharing something so personal, but I want so little in return.

Not me, personally. I mean the generalised “I”, for I definitely want much, much more. If I share a picture of my breakfast, I want a witty, informative, inspiring conversation about bread and eggs. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. And I am asking all that from complete strangers. Strangers I wouldn’t even want to be friends with. And not because they are not people to have as friends, but they’ll spoil this whole exchange by being a flesh-and-blood person.

I have my social media for people I personally know. I have my social media for people I have never met, will probably never meet. It’s like two different worlds, two different channels of communication, two different environments of presenting the stimulus that is me, and seeing how each takes in the exclusive information. And it couldn’t be more different. I do not prefer one over the other, but I expect different things from either. For there can never be relationships without expectations, and I am very, very greedy.

Sorry WordPress readers, but we can’t be friends. I’d go AWOL if we were. The very reason I seek you out from time to time, is because you give me purpose in moments of isolation. I get to write letters out into the ether, say my piece, and implicitly trust your strangeness to be heard. And judged without pre-conception. Of course, I’ve grown to know some of you over time, as have you grown to know me. But, it is still a tenuous enough bond to contain surprise. And that won’t be spoiled even if I started vlogging or something, 24*7. Because, whatever you say or do, there is always a difference between how you perceive a person wholly, and how you find them in bits and pieces.

In P. B. Shelley’s famous poem To a Skylark, he speaks of the skylark as “an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.” I like that idea of being disembodied in your art. That is, what you make is separate from yourself. The whole of you, the person everybody sees, might even be irrelevant to it. And in the way we seem to be expressing ourselves in our social media, it’s like we’re fighting against this. Like this picture, or this terrible rendition of The Cure, is not enough in itself, and I have to drag myself into it.

Sometimes, you do need to make the two worlds merge, just a little. When I started this blog, people assumed I was an older man, presumably American. Now, based on comments I get sometimes, I think people assume I dance to Bollywood music as I type, and go to drastically lavish weddings all the time (the former might not be altogether inaccurate). I still have that teenage angsty thing of hating being put in a box, i.e. stereotyped, but I understand that it just stems from people’s need to classify things in order to make sense of them. But, I also cherish the absolute comfort, the tantalizing mystery of a stranger. Not because a stranger is a story to be heard and then kept aside, but because a stranger can represent chaos, from which creation comes. A stranger challenges you everytime to do things over. Do yourself over.

But, I still don’t trust them with my singing.

What do you make of your blogging friendships?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

21 thoughts on “Of The Comfort of Strangers

  1. “But, it is still a tenuous enough bond to contain surprise.” I don’t get to peruse my subscriptions as often as I like, but when I do I always pause to read your entries. Lines like the one above is why…..besides, you pulled off an acceptable rendition of “Wuthering Heights”. ::::::mouth agape::::::

  2. I love reading your words!!! It amazes me you have thousands of followers and yet few seem to enjoy commenting on your work. Granted, I still need to write on the book I have by you, but still!

    1. Aww, Kris thank you so much!😊 I’ve seen the numbers are always skewed that way, no matter the amount of the blogger’s followers. There are lesser views, likes and comments, in that order. But, I deeply appreciate whatever I get.😁

  3. I shared my breakfast to my social media for New Year wishes。 The surprising comment from a viewer is fondly recalled as “breaky!”

    What difference does this make? I seldom share any social media with those claiming to know me。 The amusement has lessened。

  4. Well even if we’re not officially friends – I still enjoy reading pieces like this one Amrita.
    Anyone who is inspired to cover the Cure is worth a read in my books, even if they record self-declared terrible renditions!

    1. Oh, I’m not being modest Geoff, my rendition truly was terrible!
      And while we’re not officially friends, I do appreciate that you take the time to read and respond to my idle thoughts and ramblings here.😀

  5. I have met a handful of my fellow bloggers. Mostly ones in and around the New York area and I have become friendly enough with a few others that if ever we are near, we would at least get together for a drink or a meal. But I know what you mean. By and large I think I prefer most of them at a distance. And its not just blogging but also from other social media or forums that have nothing to do with my blog. Kind of a nice to know you this way but not the other way sort of situation! I’d actually be afraid of being tongue tied with some of my fellow bloggers. Like I could be profound on my writing, and be umming and asking about the weather in person! However…if you ever get to NYC, I’ll take you on a Ramones tour 😉

    1. I’d love to go see the Joey Ramone sign in Forest Hills, though it’s supposed to be the one which gets stolen the most! And CBGB, of course.
      I’m afraid that I’ll sound like an overenthusiastic school girl, which is what I really do sound like! Not a profoundly philosophical person, but someone who’s endlessly chatty. That is why I’ve filmed a number of videos, but haven’t uploaded any.

      I wouldn’t mind per se if I meet any of the people I’ve “met” here in person. But, I know I’ll inevitably judge them, as they would judge me. Perhaps they already do, after reading my blog for a while, but there’s something to be lost once they become flesh and blood.

      1. Alas CBGB is no longer. The iconic sign is in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame I believe. Definitely the sign and whatever ghosts of the old Queens they sang about. I did see…but not dare step in one rather frightening looking bar on Rockaway Beach the other night.

        I know what you mean about meeting people here. There is something odd about online connections anyway, regardless of where they are from. On the one hand, perhaps we all need to get accustomed to having good friends we may never actually meet because their online personality so thoroughly matches our own. Yet as you say, I know that the other things I might chatter on about might be completely uninteresting to you!

      2. I know CBGB’s closed, but isn’t it available like a touristy, museum type of thing? I would have liked to see their infamous toilets.😉
        And the sign had to go too, eh? Oh well, none of the original group are around anyway, and they weren’t appreciated in their time. It’s the music that matters. And the t-shirts.😊
        I wouldn’t say I was disappointed to meet the ones I have, I just see them differently. There’s an intensity to an online exchange that is replace by a more relaxed human one. It’s like great big artists you admire. I love them, but I wouldn’t want to have lunch with them.

      3. I think they briefly opened a tourist shop with tshirts and stuff but that closed down too. I believe its a John Varvatos store now. But yeah, the music and the tshirts live! I agree with how you said that. I’ve had some good interactions with some of the artists I write about, but I think I like the distance between.

  6. I like it, it’s like my own little world here. I’ve never been one to hide my views, can’t change the world staying silent, right? I like the thought that my views and my most personal opinions reach out to people that I may never have the pleasure of meeting, but I like to think I could’ve made them smile at some point or another.

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