We are perpetually made aware, necessarily so but perhaps more than we’d like to admit, of our ultimate loneliness. This is not a generational problem, though how equipped we are currently of handling the realization of our singularity is questionable. In the contemporary age, we all share on social media. We pin and request, email and message and seek to bridge all digital platforms. Collectively, we open our lives to the larger world and foster the internet of things. This connectedness is undoubtedly a feat, but it can prove to be concerning. With wide technological reach, there is need to generate higher and more sophisticated privacy settings. Data must be protected and our daily interactions with software distributed to a network of powerful albeit privilege parties. We can argue that it is by the sheer existence of security infrastructure that we latently sacrifice a sense of control.

As bell hooks argues in All About Love, privacy is easily confused with secrecy, that privacy and secrecy are now becoming more and more akin to one another and that the strength of one enhances the strength of the other. As technology grows and broadcasting more and more authorized, defined and protected, we naturally will see a heightened sense of secrecy. This argument follows:

‘Oversharing’ is a term native to this age. It unearths upon a general hesitancy to share more than what we have artificially defined as baseline necessary in our attempts to keep updated with others. There is, in fact, no such thing by technological standards as oversharing. With the exception of spam, there is no limit to how many Snapchats, Facebook posts, Instagrams or Tweets one may post. Here we dispel the argument that privacy works against secrecy. What is enough and what is over capacity reveals our own artificial metric sensitive to how much we should share and what is worthy of sharing. This design is one way in which we attempt to reestablish a sense of control in our lives. As well, this is an example of secrecy at work.

Another way in which we establish secrecy is through escapism. There is an agreement across everyone on social media that the in addition to the ‘spoken’ truth of post and share, there is another guaranteed and verifiable unseen story behind image and caption. Oftentimes, this is the less glamorous, unromantic scene of everyday life. As well, the incognito window offers an opportunity for us to indulge in our deepest uninhibited fantasies and desires, seemingly without notice. While it is healthy to have fantasies as they present us with an unreachable, endless slough of goals and possibilities which power us through the drudgery of daily task and chore, at the back of our minds, we understand that with current data mining capacities, nothing is absolutely hidden. This presents the case for a little betrayal of secrecy by the hands of privacy. This little spoken of understanding damages our control of and security in secret-keeping and thus, propagates its cycle.

As a result, in the current era, we can easily feel lonely without an effective strategy to comprehend and manage what it means to live as our optimum, authentic selves. We designate a more than healthy portion of time sacrificing ourselves to the altar of secrecy. We shield and defensively engage in protecting what’s ours and by that protection, we systematically nourish a feeling of isolation and neglect. And we systematically create, as a consequence, a space where vulnerability and real connection do not thrive.

Rationally, it is when people are vulnerable, when they ‘let their guards down’ and acknowledge their singular afflictions, that meaningful conversation can begin for it is when we can fully acknowledge the core of our loneliness that we come to terms with our mortality.

The purpose of our existence is an essential, universal quandary which is rooted in two questions:

  • what does the manifestation of a meaningful life look like and
  • how do we effectively choose to expend our life with care and intent

These two questions hold if and only if possibility is present. As Shelly Kagan denotes, “it’s not just the fact that we are mortal that requires us to be careful (to choose and execute intently). It is because we have a short span of life relative to how much there is that we are aiming for and how complicated and difficult it is to get those things and get them right.”

I believe what sponsors a meaningful life and enhances our confidence that we are living it is our conception of humanity. That we are surrounded by seemingly endless possibilities, that we can live well even with the knowledge that 500 hours of content is uploaded onto YouTube every minute, is due to our recognition of the importance of companionship and commanderie.

I’m fascinated by the far-reaching capabilities of connection, which is more easily fostered in intimate, unsolicited conversation. For me, personal success means cultivating my gifts of thoughtful reasoning, emotional intelligence, founded optimism and grit to strengthen the world’s sense of community and belonging. Belonging is why I write and why writes exist. Vulnerability is a necessary ingredient. Fitzgerald puts it best when reflecting on his penning This Side of Paradise as: “I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile”.

Atelier Hao is an assemblage of ideas. Though overall, I’ll be considering two predominant categories: the beauty in ephemerality and the benefits of introspection and sight, both concepts catered to the modern traveler in all of us.

image via favim

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