Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alienation

It's three in the morning and I am sitting on my bed eating Double Stuf oreos (spellcheck doesn't know oreo) Partially this is because I'm a broke grad student and I'm leaving for Spring Break in Atlanta (!!!) tomorrow so have no real food on hand. But the other part of it is I have bee lying here since midnight watching old VlogBrothers videos. Now I can't sleep because of all the thoughts running through my head.

John Green's videos about Catcher in the Rye had me shouting "Yes, yes, yes!" not for the reason one might shout that in a college dorm at three AM, but because it's so exhilarating for me that a YA icon believes what I believe about the book that has most spoken to my own feelings about alienation. And I think it's partially why the Nerdfighters are so amazing. Their videos give something for people to see and say "Yes, I think this too, this interests me, I am not alone." It's why i kept watching alone, on an almost deserted campus.

But there are also things I don't get. I hate video games, and so when Hank Green said it's required for nerds, I felt the sting of alienation. I'm not mad at Hank-- it made me see: c'est la vie. (check out that rhyme)

We are at once accepted and alienated from every group we attempt to belong to, due to the differences and deficiencies of the human experience, of empathy. And we're constantly searching for the people or the group who "get us", or who accept and tolerate the most of our unique characteristics. Where we can "be ourself". It's why I'm so excited about going to Atlanta, because I've repressed the feelings of loneliness I had there in favor of the positive memories, which are by definition more numerous than the ones in Boston. Here I am still developing the base group of people and also I don't quite know who "myself" is yet here, though I do know she has a monkey hat.

I don't mean to say that common traits are a necessity for acceptance. I can feel as alone in a group of people with disabilities, a group of Harry Potter nerds, a group of YA authors. The more experiences we have, the more, I think, the potential for this unlike with like, alone amongst others, experience. And it's not an all-consumming, must be depressed now, thing. But I think we need to acknowledge it as a possible basis for our need to be constantly reaching out--tweeting our smallest thoughts, writing blog posts like these in the hopes that somewhere out there someone else is eating oreos at 3AM and can say: 'I see you. You are not alienated in this moment'-- because it's the moments when we feel least disconnected that we hold onto and nurture in our memories.

We deny the other moments and see them as "wrong" but I would argue that they are also an awareness of individuality, which is not wrong. It's beautiful. And so is the connectedness. It's all unique, and uniquely human.

So don't fear the alienation, because it goes hand-in-hand with the connectivity.

For more on this, see my posts on Nick and Norah's Fabulous Playlist and Pink.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful!

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  2. I think those who acknowledge their loneliness are brave.

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