Human connection: Even celebrities can feel lonely and isolated
Well, against all intention, I have taken a hiatus from blogging. Life happens, and time slips by. At risk of seemingly only posting in response to major events or tragedies, I'm going to throw in my two cents on the recent death of a brilliant comedian and generous person. There have been many kind words, advocacy for mental health awareness, and empathy for our fellow beings; however, I'd like to touch on a specific component - connection. I'm sure someone has enlightened us with wise words of encouragement and insight into suicide and connection, so please forgive any redundancy.
Suicide, among many things, comes from a sense of complete isolation, hopelessness, exhaustion, and despair. As in celebrity deaths, like that of Robing Williams, the way one presents is not always an accurate representation of how they are feeling or a full picture of their perception of self and/or the world around them. On the surface, one can seem fully connected, despite actually feeling completely alone. At the point of suicide, whatever problems are present seem so much bigger and more permanent than any support system available.
Human connection dates back to prehistoric times, but so does genocide. People have formed and remained in tribes, groups, families, etc. with those who are similar to them for centuries. People have also fought, and sometimes killed, for relevance and ultimate dominance of connection. Homosapien is believed to have eradicated Neanderthal. Hitler attempted to wipe out an entire race whom he believed to be a threat to his perception of humanity. When people feel threatened by the idea of being along or isolated, they sometimes result to astronomical measures. As you read this posting and other narratives on human behavior, such as suicide, you may wonder how someone can resort to such seemingly drastic measures for temporary problems. See, the skewed perception comes in the timing and weight of the problem. We are searching for rational explanations to irrational perceptions in people who have are struggling with level of depression many of us cannot imagine. To someone suffering with complete hopelessness and isolation, the problem doesn't seem temporary. It feels permanent, and the pain from removing themselves from existence likely seems much less of a burden than the pain from continuing to live with the problem(s).
Now, let's bring this topic to connection; human connection. Recall the last time you felt truly connected with someone. Not just emotionally or just physically, or just spiritually, but completely connected in all realms of human experience. Take your time, and really get in touch with this experience. Now, notice what is happening in your body. Are there any changes in your muscles, breathing, circulation, etc.? How are you feeling when you are truly connected? Now, imagine that no matter how hard you try, this feeling never feels genuine. The connection feels good at times, but not fulfilling or whole, or perhaps, even real at all. For those fortunate enough to have genuine connection, and are attuned to it, be thankful. Not everyone has this experience. Sometimes, people who have had it, lose it. Sometimes people feel like they've never had it at all, or blame themselves for its absence. Next, imagine that you are experiencing conflict or detrimental turmoil; a problem that seems never ending. What do you do? Some of you may reach out to a loved one. Others may process internally, listen to music, or seek some other type of distracting or meaningful stimulation. Many of you may do some combination of some of all of the above. The idea here, is to realize that many of us feel a connection with whatever or whomever we seek solace. For those who feel like this connection doesn't exist of is, at best, disingenuous, the problem may seem endless. The initial problem often turns into a chain of problems, because we attract what we project. If we are biased to believe that nothing will get better, without appropriate intervention, this perception grows stronger, more real, and more toxic.
One last statement about connection in reference to genuine versus disingenuous... How many of you remember a time when connecting with someone meant seeing them, touching them, hearing them, or at least experiencing some physical presence in the moment? How many of you have evolved your relationships to texting rather than talking, facebook stalking, video game avatars, or emailing forwards that remind you of someone? I have a specific interest in this evolution of human experience and connection, and will continue researching it. There is a term which I have coined as a depiction of my observations and interviews with people living through the limiting reality of technology and digital interaction; it's "vicarious reality." If you read these blogs or hear me speak from my soap box, you have hear or will hear this term. It simply means living through the lens of an experience that is external and simulated, all while assuming this experience as your reality and finding your emotions, behaviors, and thought processes to be influenced through the bias of disconnected connection.
Our challenge for today is to seek out at least one genuine interpersonal interaction, feel it, experience it, and own it as yours.