I am sure I am not alone. I know that others exist. Out there, are disconnected kindred spirits…those who are unpopular, those who are victim to their own brutal perfectionism…however ‘out there’ poses issues for us. How does one connect with their own kind in our individualized and alienated society?
Post-modernity and existential alienation are entwined tightly, dramatically, horribly. The weird sensation that one is the odd person in the crowd, alone and twisting against the norms, that is the stuff of the current age. Speaking to others who feel the same, I realize that I am not a bizarre abnormality – this disconcerting feeling of ‘alone’ is normal, natural, neoliberal. We are symbols of our time; isolated yet connected – connected to technologies which are supposedly social, yet even more alienating. I feel so empowered behind my sleek tech, punching words, yet who is it that is my master? Somehow, writing feels less real, not so holistic, when one considers the technological impositions…I feel like Tetsuo, the real Iron Man – realizing one’s diminishing humanity yet, in a futile, determined manner, powering on, in a crazed rage…
The one I love likened me to Arthur Schopenhauer the other day. He suggested, with the earnestness of one who is both true and devoted, that perhaps I need to move my worldview towards Nietschean aims. Nietzsche, the architect of the absurd and the godfather of the existential, eventually found comfort in his being. He was alone, yet he knew the Ubermesnch (supermen) of the future would see his perspective. It was not him; it was the time that he was implanted in. He could not dislike himself for his deviance from social norms; rather he disliked the social norms of his time. I could learn a lot from Nietzsche. We all could.
Feeling different to others is something that consumer culture, a strong undercurrent in society, supports. Freedom, as it is presupposed in such conditions, argues for individuality and eschewing the normative. But this severs social ties and dissolves social glue; the very things that humanity consists of. Existing in such times challenges one’s resilience. Continually being considered ‘too sensitive’ or overly introverted in a period that is viciously ruled by the brutal economic rationalism – what claims to be extroverted and social, yet is underpinned by vicious and calculating self-interest – will challenge the strongest of us. When being social tends to be driven by comparison and whether one meets yard sticks, then being social becomes redundant and unpleasant. This worsens isolation, alienation and social trust. But what can one do, within this climate? Do we dare to love and be who we are, despite being unpopular or odd? Do we try and squeeze into a more normative form?
I choose the first option; the Nietzschean caveat. Like the refrain of a cliched break-up; society, it’s not me, it’s you.