On Being an Outsider


I have always felt a little bit like a visitor to this planet.  After all, the more decades you live, the more you realize how short this trip of life really is compared to all history of time and space.  You also start realizing how fast things change, especially in this technology age, yet human behaviors don’t so much.

Last night a friend and I were discussing at length how disconnected we are feeling from all the looniness going on in global media and social networks.  If it weren’t for being in the marketing business, it would be easy to say goodbye to all our Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and other systems that we feel obliged to participate in.  At the same time, we are learning to limit our involvement to specific business purposes and/or limiting our inclusion of “strangers” to our networks and focusing on communications with those close yet living distant from us.  We are learning NOT to get caught up in political or philosophical discussions with general publics that know little about us but assume so much based on our typical one sentence summaries on various subjects that are discussed in these open forums.

On one hand, we are exposed to so many extreme and varying views on social networks regarding general topics of politics, religion and all the other no-nos we had thought were bad manners to bring up between friends and acquaintances.  Somehow on these social forums, we feel compelled and free to say and share things in front of millions of unknown users that we wouldn’t share with our closest friends or family in a face to face setting.  This is unsettling…yet understandable.

It seems to be human nature that we want to “know and be known”.  Humans are clannish and social by nature, yet we have now allowed technology and “too much information” to overrun that nature and push many of us into quiet corners of private contemplation.   A FEW people on our social networks scream their extreme, absolutist, yet questionable views while a majority of us sit back and shake our heads at the content levels of today’s average discourses.  Most discussions are based on pure emotion and personal bias.  Very few are able to objectively discuss major, important issues without feeling like every discussion is a “win-lose” proposition.  Someone has to lose it seems…even if not based on any solid truth or absolute.

Based on the polarization of our new open societies trying to find common ground on all the major issues and belief systems, it now feels easiest just to withdraw from the conversation.  We now find ourselves “unfriending” people we don’t know, don’t like or  don’t agree with.  A majority of people flock to “their own” with very little interest in difference or contrary opinions.   Most of society is about labels and epitaphs.  All of the arts seems to be reflecting these changes with a basic debasing of everything from media programming (too much extreme reality TV where we are embarrassed to watch ourselves), the written or spoken word (that gets tortured by our modern Presidents to media pundits), to the general monotony and depravity of the “music business” pumping out vulgarity to all new levels towards society of all ages and ethnicities.  Social pressure is to reduce our standards to the lowest common denominator.

It is no wonder that so many humans live on their cellphones and laptops with headphones on most all day long escaping all this cacophony of decadence and noise.  Many of us feel increasingly alone in this world against the fabric of what used to be families and close friendships being destroyed by fear of being misunderstood or not accepted.  Our new tendencies are towards mediocrity and acceptance of “what is”, isolation of thought and mind, unilateral actions, and views continually based on extreme philosophical or religious fantasies that further disconnect from what it truly means to be human.

More of us are feeling like “outsiders” looking at the mainstream of our societies and preferring the safety of our own company or counsel.  Levels of personal trust and acceptance continue to diminish.  We focus on differences versus similarities.  Racism, egalitarianism, ego, and “image” are the new reality for many of us with little hope for raising our consciousness above the average and mundane masses we are forced to deal with. We have fewer absolutes and more doubts.   We have learned history to a shallow degree at least…and we still repeat it.  Why?  Insanity?

The new “outsider” doesn’t belong to any political or religious organizations.  They tend to tighten up their circle of friends and confidants.  They start keeping their views and comments to themselves…whether online or in person.  If you don’t want to get pummelled by society, you learn quickly how to do this.

Finally, there are two levels of “outsiders” we have observed.  One level is the general order of individuals who have voluntarily gone into personal or emotional exile and not participating in the general public dialogue of social and other media.  Then you have the “outsiders” who are trying to hijack every discussion to purport their extremist views or shape the shallow minds of public opinion to one outsider cause or another.  These are the aggressive outsiders, and we are probably a combination of both types if we were to be perfectly honest.

We could start a club of “outsiders”, but then that would defeat the purpose of evolving into an outsider in the first place. For us, we are happy to label ourselves “outsiders” without attacking or totally removing ourselves from the public discourse.  We have grown comfortable in our own shoes and life experiences while not demanding that others follow suit or understand our summaries of those experiences.  Some things can only be expressed in the arts…and most good “artists” of any fame have usually been “outsiders”, well apart from the mainstream.

We feel very comfortable in that space.

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