On blogging and taking off our cultural masks

American #1: “How ya doing?”
American #2: “I’m fine.” (But not really; that’s just the culturally accepted perfunctory answer, and if I were to be honest with you I know you’d just roll your eyes and tell me to buck up.)

talk to the hand

Lately this blog (as well as my Twitterfeed) has taken a bit more personal tone on occasion than I originally intended, mainly on account of the fact that I’m the only one of the contributors who’s been writing *clears throat*, and because the move took up so much of my time and mental energy.

I have no problem writing from a personal point of view. I enjoy reading books of a similar stripe such as those by Anne Lammot or Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. These author’s vulnerabilities are encouraging; they let us know that there are real people out in the world. Other people are worried, anxious, crazy and sick. Other people don’t have have it all figured out, aren’t all put together. Too often American culture seems to become a masquerade, where everyone is wearing the generally accepted and innocuous mask labeled as “I’m fine.” Is it easier to not hear other people’s problems? Probably. Does it perpetuate a selfish society indifferent to real needs and desires — however mild or severe they may be in our judgement is irrelevant since we can’t actually walk in another person’s Crocs — around us? Probably.

I wonder if the advent of blogging (and other so-called social media) has resulted in a more transparent, a more vulnerable culture. Granted, tweeting about your financial struggles in a tough economy isn’t the same as conversing face to face, but surely there is some honesty that translates from the electronic medium to the tactile. What good might come of us answering the question “How ya doing?” honestly? Would we be better listeners and less quick to judge? Perhaps we’d become a more loving society, a more charitable culture, a more benevolent neighbor, a more compassionate community.

Photo from Maugh’s Flickr photostream (CC BY-NC 2.0)

About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

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