The power of sharing

Sharing is what makes people like each other. Exchanging gifts is the first form that comes to a child’s mind; grown ups know that real sharing happens when you do something you like and the person next to you happens to like it as well.

The best sex works this way, for instance.

But maybe here I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself.

Jocks joking about the results of the latest game, whichever team they are supporting, are enjoying each other because they happen to both like football. They are sharing what they like and that’s what makes them special to each other in that particular occurrence.

Family members who enjoy being part of being a family usually do because they enjoy caring. When doing what they like, i.e. actually caring, they enjoy being part of each other’s family. The corollary is why people who don’t care cause dysfunctional families: they just don’t belong.

There’s just something so special about bringing up a random conversation topic and see the eyes of the other person/people sparkling up before they exclaim “hey that’s cool, I like this too!”

It feels better than the mere euphoria of serotonin, it’s like a shot of adrenalin with the sweetness of anticipation before a friendship to come. In fact, media and entertainment are simply popular, despite all the bullshit they carry, because they are mass manufactures for common habits and “likes”, the basic currency for sharing — the basic building block for what makes human cluster with each other and want to stick together.

Well, one of them anyway. Maybe there’s other stuff at hand, like economies of scale about shelter/health/food benefits? Anyhow. When you don’t connect to people in the way I just explained, you very well feel how much you’re missing out and how much it hurts.

Subnormality one of my favorite web comics. This strip in particular corroborates my own assumption that the space that separates individuals is begging to be filled up.

“Try and let yourself be surprised” is a constructive motto, that can be applied to every moment not otherwise busy with basic survival. But that’s also disruptive. It makes people change. It exposes weaknesses and uncovers challenges; the process of addressing either is the stuff that evolution is made of.

Change is painful. To go through change one sheds old skin and grows new layers. Useful change is significant. Significant means leaving behind habits, but also large chunks of one’s identity. New layers mean new habits, that need to be exercised. Meaning effort. Lots of it. New identity layers too. To be recognized, to be acknowledged. Lots of effort too.

A dynamic self has a tremendous cost. At each step, either forward or backward, one needs to keep the barriers of individuality low and reach out for others. To receive dynamic acknowledgement, to be recognized, but foremost to repeat the pleasure of sharing with new friends because one’s interests evolve and existing friends might have evolved differently.

Here lies a fundamental conflict between the emotional comfort of conservative self-preservation, and the distressing necessity of adaptability through healthy self-renewal. The recognition and acknowledgement of this conflict seems an important step, but I don’t feel it brings me anywhere near a resolution — yet.

Movies influence me.

This is unusually difficult to put into words. To start with, in my world there are no “good” or “bad” movies. I do not care, unless explicitly briefed beforehand, about the “artistic value” of images or the efforts put into a piece by directors and actors alike. For the most part, I do not care about realism or “texture”. Plain characters and simple stories suit me well. Popular or “artsy,” from Hollywood to Bollywood, black and white to animated 3D, I do not evaluate other than giving a chance to the pictures to pass before my eyes — or, should I say, my heart.

Big cars? Not interested. Big boobs? Nothing. Big money? Meh. Big explosions? Boring. Electronics? Boring! Science fiction? Bo-ring! (I get my SF from books, thanks) Big trial? Maybe, if there’s some irrational issue being considered. Action? Only to support something that counts for the characters. Big love? Okay, although not too much if too much predictable. Fantasy / fantastic environments? As long as it gets my right brain moving right away: large, different, creative. Sex scenes? Only if properly introduced, with decent emotional context, and not if a female is involved.

What gets me going, is the stuff “in between” what most movies try to show — the head stuff only in a handful of “alternate” movies. The stuff “in between” are the parts that are not put into words. How the music matches a particular scene. How the lighting coincides with a specific emotional state I’m in. What’s a character’s reaction to a situation that would otherwise touch me. What parallels my imagination builds between what is shown and what could have been but is not. And so on.

A movie, whichever it is, will not go through my left brain at all as soon as it touches my right brain. My suspension of disbelief is total and both the physical world, logic and reason disappear to let the work reach a rougher and rawer part of myself. I am rarely left unscathed. The ravaging inner turmoil I go through with every single watching experience influences who I am to an extent I would never fully admit even to my best friend. There is no scale, no judgement, no comparison going on; only a passive contemplation of the raw feelings I experience, and and a fleeting attempt to identify whichever interesting aspects of those feelings I will want to memorize and cherish afterwards. A successful movie experience will rip me apart, let me experience briefly the intense realization of how human I am, and leave my inner self agape for a few hours. Even with less interesting / intense viewings, there will be always a few minutes of scarring needed during which I am particularly vulnerable to matters of art and heart.

During this small period after moving going, the mere utterance “so, how did you like it?” seems both incredibly stupid and incredibly offensive. Stupid because the phrasing invites a small answer, whereas thousands of world would not even begin to suffice for a decent answer. Offensive, because the suggestion of an answer made of words totally disregards the purely nonverbal nature of my potential appreciation. There is just no valid answer to that sort of question at that sort of time, so I hide both the most awesome and the most despicable times of my life behind a blanket “I’m not sure yet” or “I’ll have to think about it.”

The most painful part of this is the frequent intense need to hug someone after a movie experience. I simply don’t know how to ask for a hug in a crowded exit hallway in a cinema. And for the most exciting films I see at home, there is simply no one to hug — I watch my home movies alone, since the movies I find most interesting don’t seem too interesting to most of my friends.

Don’t get me even started on philosophy and the impact of language on identity and self-perception.

Video games. Food tastes. The occasional mix on Digitally Imported. I like to share those sometimes. It’s good enough to feel socially connected I guess.