Individual versus Mass

Yesterday evening I read some old emails I exchanged with a good friend of mine some weeks ago. We had discussed the fact that sometimes we feel like aliens in our own world. Nothing special about that, I guess most people have experienced this. But when I was sitting in the bus today, I decided to give it a try and provoke that feeling. Curiously, I succeeded. Feeling as a complete stranger in an environment that is so familiar is amazing.

There is however something more I wanted to achieve this time: to become conscious of every single person that was sitting in that bus, to become aware that every person who shared the same place in our space-time continuum as me, was an individual with problems, hopes, dreams and fears. It felt as if I was part of a collective, a hive, where everyone is on himself and yet dependent on and bound to all the others.

I will do it again.

It gave me an all new look on our postmodern world, where everybody feels so left alone. Our world, a place where we need stability now more than ever before. A moment in time in which we reject everything that seems absolute, even moral values. Yet, we desperately seek something that is not relative to give us a hold.

So many people were sitting around me whose names I knew. Mayhap there were people who knew mine. People I have never talked to and probably never will. I don’t dislike them. I simply don’t feel any particular interest in talking to them. I had, for these few seconds though. If only all humans would experience this daily, if it was a part of our very nature, if we walked around and were totally aware of all our fellow beings, peradventure, this world would be much more bearable, for all of us.

But, in the end, humans prefer to stay anonymous. We drown ourselves in the bottomless lake of self-pity for being alone. When it comes down to meeting new people, we prefer the impersonal alternative, where we are nothing more than an avatar and don’t have to leave the safety of our small office at home. The old saying ‘no risk no fun’ gets an all new meaning in this context. Today, most already consider it a risk coming out behind their firewall, stepping out of the front door and talking to real-life people. Nobody wants to leave his VR, where we just feel too comfortable.

The world is waiting to be filled with discussions, opinions, chit-chats. What do we do? We keep leaving it crest-fallen.

1 reply on “Individual versus Mass”

[…] A few months ago, I said that I will try it again, becoming conscious of everyone who’s standing around me. Being in a different country and culture now would have been a great opportunity, but I didn’t do it (though I guess the result was the same). When I walked through the city, I suddenly realized how unimportant a single human is. Do not get me wrong, this is not misanthropist (although I sometimes feel as one), but it just showed me how little my worries are. I was of course always conscious that there are thousands and thousands of people on this planet who have greater worries than I have, but actually leaving this continent somehow helped me in realizing it. No, they are not poor in Cardiff, it’s actually one of the most expensive cities, the price for living space is close to that of Munich. […]

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