The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

To know and to be known

'To know and to be known.'
As humans, we endeavour after, among other things, two connected goals: (a) to be unique as individuals, and (b) to identify with others. How strange that we seek to set ourselves apart from others in some way but also refrain from being separated from others. Of course, there are exceptions who fall to either extreme, but by and large this reality is true. For most, this results in a delicate balance: either extreme is tempered by its opposite. And when we find ourselves too isolated we spend time reconnecting with others. But, when we feel too invisible in the crowd, we yearn to distinguish ourselves, 'to rise above' the masses. We want to be individuals like everbody else.

As I've thought about this, I think that we can see these two goals as complementary in their respective scopes. As individuals, we express our uniquity* mainly through creation and achievement. Think about it. Those whom we pay the most, respect the most, talk about the most, etc. are those who create or achieve. Actors. Athletes. Writers. CEOs. And the like. They have set themselves apart in our culture by creating and achieving, and we revere them for such works and accomplishments.

Our efforts to identify with others mainly fall into the category of experience. We seek to relate to others through common experiences. Why do alcoholics, war veterans, or religious peoples band together? Shared experience. These and other groups form around the common bonds of experience, and they come to understand one another because of them. I recently learned that the Latin word religia means simply 'to tie fast,' so that we could quite honestly say that there are many religions--of course, religion no longer has such a simple meaning, and use it as such would only mean to be misunderstood.

Ironically, the actors, athletes, writers, and CEOs we can identify with are the ones we most like. The writers who best convey our universal shared experiences are those we most laud. The actors who best portray the raw human emotions that we all feel--or believe we would feel--are those who garner our praise.

Unfortunately, this also explains why our society is so divided: we like those who are like us. It is not wrong to do so, nor can we be expected to act otherwise. However, most will admit that it is simply percieved differences that separate us, but force us together and we might find that we are not so different.

The application of all this certainly pertains to blogging. It was my considering this endeavour that renewed my pondering on these two goals. With the emergence of the Internet and the global community connected by technology, we've begun to realize how big this world is and how small we really are. The enormity of 6 billion people stifles us at times--in moments where such realism weighs on our minds in a fresh way.

We wonder, fear at times, whether our being here matters much at all. The world moves forward, it seems, with or without us. In reality, we are asking, 'Is there something for this world that only I can give?' Do I have a meaningful and significant stake in such a large world where so many others seem to be able to do--and much better--just what I thought I was unique in providing?

Blogging is an attempt to silence our misgivings and create a space that would be void without us.

*Not a word. But I think it should be. It's more fun than saying "uniqueness."