Do I struggle with connection?
Do we struggle with connection?
In the presence of strangers, or even our loved ones, do we converse or do we turn inward to avoid the cumbersome and awkward sense of interaction? We think we know ourselves, but do we? We look at our screens, take selfies for the story, but do we really know who that person is, shuffling through life, or do we just see a figure; impatient and lonely? We are always connected, yet are we connected at all? Living in the technological age, there is an abundance of things demanding our attention every day. Do we give into the screen, or do we push ourselves to break free from the confines of our iPhones? We complain because we have so much to do, but do we really? Is this an excuse to justify that because we spend so much time on our devices, we don’t have time to get much else done? I find myself being pulled in many different directions, and I have a hard time knowing just which avenue of communication to choose - personal or technological. I find that I’m tired, yet I can’t sleep, because I’m lost in my Instagram feed. I’m trying to fine-tune my personal brand, but is this really me, or is it in fact a self-idolized version, built on fiction and lies? Growing up connected, we are not connected at all; we become the other.
Throughout pages 83 to 89 in Queer, written by William S. Burroughs, we see examples of disembodiment, much like the disembodiment we face every day when we open that snapchat, check that status, or post that picture. Perhaps one of the best examples of this divide between body and mind is seen on page 89, and it reads as follows: “‘Wouldn’t it be booful if we should juth run together into one gweat big blob…’” (Burroughs 89) In this quote, we see Lee’s disconnection between himself and his fantasies. Taking into account the time period in which this was written, we can understand Burroughs’s trepidation when approaching the taboo of homosexuality. It is also important to note that he wrote this piece in 1952, but it was not published until 1985. The lack of acceptance around his work relates all too well to this piece, and is seen through the main character. Burroughs describes Lee as being an outsider, who is struggling with his identity, both internally and externally. This furthermore plays into the theme of being “the other.” Today, millions of people, worldwide, struggle with the idea of being a number of things generically labeled as different. That being said, I think we can all identify somewhat with what Lee is feeling in this excerpt. However, when we approach this topic through the lens of technology, our perception becomes fuzzy. I find myself sounding a bit hypocritical as I write this, because, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, I’m constantly staying connected on social media. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to take a step back and ironically escape the cage of the limitless possibilities the Internet traps us in.
Is being the other really such a bad thing? In today’s society of hipsters and followers, being different seems to be all the rave. Alongside seemingly meaningless social trends like the Kardashians and “Damn Daniel,” the quirky, artsy, and self-expression movement is taking off. Our once “normal” world is being taken over by everything from eccentric fashion to radical political views, and no longer is it easy to spot the odd one out, but rather, it’s hard to define what’s odd anymore. Is being different even considered different anymore? Is different the new normal? Technology certainly makes it easier to express who we are, but as I stated before, is this really a true interpretation of ourselves, or is it forced and insincere? Are we really different, or are we just trying to fit in? Is being different our way of conforming? Are we doing a good job of conforming, or are we scared to stand out by not standing out enough? How are we supposed to know what’s the next different if we’re not constantly on our devices? Will we miss the next trend? Will we miss one of Kim’s selfies? Will we miss the next viral video? Will me miss ourselves, or rather, our built up persona, if we aren’t connected? These questions are haunting us behind our dwindling battery percentage, which begs another question: if our phone dies, do we die? We are called to action to stop the disconnection.
You need to stop the disconnection.
I need to stop the disconnection.
We need to stop the disconnection.
Burroughs, William S. "Chapter 9." Queer. New York: Viking, 1985. 83-89.