The internet is some trippy shit, isn’t it?
You’re sitting here reading this, and you don’t even know me. But it feels like you do, doesn’t it? I get that a lot. In fact, one of the most common emails I get about anything I write is always, “GET OUT OF MY HEAD,” which sort of makes me sound like some kind of psychic creeper internet alien. Except I don’t believe in psychics and I’m only a creeper when somebody gets a book published, because that’s what writers do to one another, you know? You snarl at the cover. (Despite thinking it’s quite lovely.) You roll your eyes at the dedication page. (Though their Great Aunt Patricia DOES sound divine.) You do that thing where you compare every sentence you’ve ever written to every sentence they’ve ever written, before haughtily tossing it over your shoulder and finally admitting that OKAY FINE IT’S A GOOD BOOK WHAT MORE DO YOU PEOPLE WANT FROM ME?!
If you’re nodding your head along with that, then not only are you just as big of a jerk as me, but what I’ve just described just happened, which is basically that we’re all horrible people, and that’s why Cards Against Humanity is such a big hit, and wouldn’t you know? We’re all really thinking the same thing. (Unless you’re Miley Cyrus, in which case, I’ve got nothin’.)
But, really, I wonder how many other people are thinking the exact same thing as you, except you never really know about it, right? Because most people aren’t tweeting out their lives and/or writing really long obnoxious run-on sentences full of bad words and reflections on every bad choice they ever made since the internet came out.
Take the guy watering the lawn in his boxers with the toothpick in his mouth.
Are we thinking the same thing, dude? Or what about the woman at the grocery store with the almond milk and Vagisil? Maybe she’s also skeptical about the speed with which her underwear dishevels itself. That eighteen year old in the elevator you thought was checking you out? Nope. He was actually thinking about how much he missed home, too. (Your boobs being in his direct line of sight was mere coincidence.)
People are a lot more alike than most of us think. The stuff you’re going through? Other people have dealt with it too. That violent thought you had about shoving that kid up against the wall and making them say ‘uncle?’ YOU AREN’T ALONE. The time you almost electrocuted yourself while baking no-bake cookies? You might think no one does that. They do that. In fact, at least one person’s burned an entire house down while making no-bake cookies. I’m certain of it.
Turns out, the phrase “we’re all human” has never been more true. And even though there’s a lot of stuff you can’t (and shouldn’t) say, there’s also a lot of stuff that maybe you can. And maybe you should. Especially if you’re writing for other humans. Because it’s the discovery of shared experience that gets a reader high; it’s being able to point at another person and say, “we’re alike.” We want to feel like other people get us—including our deepest darkest thoughts—because we’re social creatures. And social creatures don’t want to be alone.
That’s why blogging and social media work. Not because the world is so interested in the fact you cooked a chicken pot pie, but in seeing that you, too, cook chicken pot pies. It’s in the details that we find the common thread. Whether you know the person on the other side of the screen or not, the important thing is that you feel a little bit less alone, in this big crazy abyss filled with tupee’d men running for president, white guys opening fire on black churches, black guys opening fire on white cops, little kids blowing up marathons, brown guys rooting them on, and Republicans running around in between yelling, “LET’S BUILD A BIGGER WALLLLLLLLL!”
The solution is not to build a bigger wall. The solution is figuring out how to build a society in which we don’t need a bigger wall.
The only way we can ever start to understand each other is by SEEING one another. After all, it’s not about whose chicken pot pie is better; it’s about recognizing that we both love weird and disgusting meat-filled dinner foods. It’s about our commonalities. Because our commonalities might just be the thing to save us.
And in that way, I think tools like blogging and social media have far more potential than we give them credit for. Not just for the next You Tube star to step into the spotlight, but for every single one of us, no matter who we are, to step into the conversation.
Conversations that no longer have to start by writing a letter to Congress, but by writing a 140 character tweet. By showing our human a little bit more, using tools that decidedly aren’t.
By being brave enough to step up to the podium.
And by making somebody else, in even the slightest of ways, wish you out of their head. Even though, on the inside?
They’re secretly glad you’re there.