Figuring it out

There’s a lot of things I don’t know.  Here is one of them, one of many in a very probable series, because the things I can’t figure out don’t just get figured out.  Nope.  They sit there waiting for me, and there are others always coming through the door.   

Today I was having a conversation on the phone with a friend when he mentioned that he could hear himself echoing in the background, however faintly.  I nodded my head, yes, I could hear myself, too.  We both commented on how it didn’t sound like us, or at least how we didn’t recognize our own voice, but we could recognize that the echoes were composed of our own words.

It’s a funny thing being recorded. Technology makes us more aware of ourselves–in our relationships with people, with the earth, and with … ourselves.  To be redundant about it.

When you see and hear yourself on a video, or if you hear your voice in a recorded bit, do you ever get
used to it? Or each time do you think, “Man, do I really sound like that?” None of what we view in ourselves is the same as how other beings, even recording devices, see us. The thing is technology doesn’t lie, it doesn’t form its own opinions, and it shows only what it is capable of showing. Devices see flaws that I may or may not be aware of. It doesn’t really matter–they could be flaws or they could just be surprises– but it doesn’t cancel it. It makes it more real. It’s there, and it’s out in the open.

Treating relationships in a similar fashion helps me navigate through finding what I like about myself and translating it into my words and actions. In relationships, I can only reveal what I want people to know, but even if I get to choose those certain things, the perspective of whomever is on the receiving end has nothing to do with what I’m trying to impart.

So we have objectivity on one hand–videos, photographs, sound recordings, mirrors–and that does enough to make us question who we are and how we, along with others, see us. They’re snapshots: a split second in time. They’re videos: often more than just a split second, but still a controlled amount of time. They’re sound recordings: a whole other game, because it involves the intricacies of voice, so there’s still that aspect of control depending on whether or not you’re aware.

And on the other hand, we have people, who aren’t machines in the same way.  But oh, my, we are extraordinary machines in a disparate form.  We are objectivity within subjectivity. We are impartial but we use our biases to work out the different levels of impartiality.  Strangers you meet can only get a glimpse of who you are.  In this way you could argue that they are on the most objective side of the social spectrum.  At first handshake it’s like a mutual, unspoken agreement: “Let’s share what we have, then perhaps we’ll let it float away on a breeze.” You take in, you decipher, and you decide whether or not to stay or keep, or to let it drift away.  But deciphering a stranger just isn’t the same as deciphering someone you see everyday, each week or even once a year. You get more than a snapshot and a short-term agreement, yet you’re still testing the limits of someone else’s perception versus whatever fodder you choose to give. 

Which is better?  To treat relationships objectively and hold yourself to a standard when in front of any person, no matter how close or not you are to them?  Or to treat each relationship subjectively and give certain pieces of yourself to certain people?  Is there a happy median?  Or is the question just that–is it not about which is better or if there is a happy way to go about, but rather why do you choose to be the way you are?

I don’t know.

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