(2003 to 2005)

The Observer..

Fri Jan 9 02:26:00 UTC+1100 2004


I don't know about everyone else, but I've always felt like I'm an observer, more than a participant. For a guy with a pretty big mouth, that might be a funny thing to say.

I guess what I mean is that I never really consider that what I do should materially impact on anyone else, so when I walk around I am sort of subconsciously thinking that no-one else should really notice that I'm there or pay too much heed to what I say or do. I guess however, this isn't the case at all.. I guess it's probably a side-effect of having spent so much of my life by myself.

This blog thing (that I'm still thinking about) is interesting, because I post things here, and I don't know when, or how, or why someone might feel that it impacts on them. I kind of feel like this is for me, but at the same time, everyone can see it. I guess I'm waiting now, for that moment when someone decides to bite my head off for 'too much participation' from me. This blog is a mechanism of sorts for public interaction with my society, and since it is so publicly available, and so informal yet persistent, it kind of feels like a big risk. I can only hope that generally the audience is so small that nothing I say here could really hurt. It is controlled by me, but I don't pay too much heed to what I post here, and generally just type what's in my head and then I don't tend to revise it later to see if that is 'still what I think' or just 'how I felt at the time', and already I'm finding that I fail to express myself well, i.e. I can't exactly simply and elegantly put into words what it is that I want to say - I guess I'm hoping that practice will make perfect..

It seems to be pretty common though, particularly among a lot of the people that I know, to hide themselves from interacting like this. Not everyone of course, but many people. I guess then, that people get the impression that speaking your mind publicly is an 'un-safe' thing to do. They are probably right too (which is a bad thing) - in my life I have been regularly shot down for doing so. So I guess I feel like I have to be over cautious with what I post here, but at the same time I often find that I'm in a mood where I just don't care. Kind of like when you write a letter because you are angry, and then later decide that it's a much better idea not to post it. Though not posting it, in my view, is actually probably a bad thing, because if the letter you wrote is an assertive commentary on how you feel, then you would be contributing to an honest and open society by openly stating how you feel rather than hiding it because you are afraid of the potential implications.

People shouldn't have to be afraid of interacting publicly. Particularly in a medium such as this, where the audience really does 'opt-in'. If other people don't like it, then you really should be entitled to agree to disagree, but I don't think that carrying a fear of what other people might think is healthy and it probably leads to dishonesty, which although rife, is still a bad thing.

Not really sure what my point is here. Perhaps just venting some fear that I'll get in trouble for something that I do with my blog, trying to analyse myself and reaching the conclusion that most of my interactions aren't considered as 'interactions' from my mind at the time that I'm making them, more sort of as a commentary on what I'm observing around me - which is probably why I can seem to be abrasive. I guess I often feel that the world is something that everyone else does, and I'm just here to check out what's going on and watch them at it.. I forget that I'm actually part of the story too.. and I'm also venting some frustration that more people don't feel like it is OK for them to interact, and openly share their mind with the rest of their community. I guess I understand this, I mean I have lurked in electronic forums of sorts for over 10 years, back from when I got my first modem, before I decided to start posting, or blogging, carrying with me some strange paranoia that I needed to remain anonymous.

On what I guess is a slightly related note, I've been reading Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London recently, and the book begins like this:

The rue du Coq d'Or, Paris, seven in the morning. A succession of furious, choking yells from the street. Madame Monce, who kept the little hotel opposite mine, had come out on to the pavement to address a lodger on the third floor. Her bare feet were stuck into sabots and her grey hair was streaming down.

MADAME MONCE: 'Salope! Salope! How many times have I told you not to squash bugs on the wallpaper? Do you think you've bought the hotel, eh? Why can't you throw them out of the window like everyone else? Putain! Salope!'


Thereupon a whole variegated chorus of yells, as windows were flung open on every side and half the street joined in the quarrel. They shut up abruptly ten minutes later, when a squadron of cavalry rode past and people stopped shouting to look at them.

I think that this picture is very different, and far more amiable and 'people oriented' than the world I feel we live in today. If I did something that my neighbors objected to, I would more likely get a threatening letter from the body-corporate than be confronted in the hallway, and if I were at a house were a neighbor thought that we were making too much noise, I'd more likely see the police arrive to address an anonymous noise complaint, than have the disgruntled neighbor come out and say they had a problem.

I really feel that we are becoming a society that is afraid of interacting, I guess that is the point of this post. I would speculate that this is for two main reasons, the first being that guns are legal in the USA and over there people are afraid of getting shot, and this fear of violence (although not as warranted in Australia to the same level because of gun laws) is becoming a part of our way of thinking because of the massive amount of media and popular culture we import from the USA, and second because we live in a highly multi-cultural society, and even though people wouldn't admit it publicly all racial groups still cling to some minor racism like “I really don't think that I'm racist, but I suspect that you are, so I remain cautious of you because you belong to a different part of the community“, which is probably the problem. The same idea could be extrapolated to other groups, such as gender or class groups too where the same fear of interaction comes up. Like “I'm a girl, so I have to be careful about interacting because I could get raped“, or “I'm a white-collar worker and your a bum so I can't talk to you because you'll probably try to mug me“ which is pretty much all just bullshit (there is no better word).

If you have something to say, I think you should say it. And don't be afraid of who's feelings you might hurt, or what they might do to you if you do. The key to the last sentence was 'afraid', I do think that you should still be considerate of other peoples feelings, but not to the point that your own feelings are stifled. This is the premise of assertiveness after all, and assertiveness is a good thing. It is reasonable to have an expectation that doing so will not result in violence - being afraid of violence like this, only serves to promote it as acceptable.

End of rant.


Copyright © 2003-2005 John Elliot