If you know me reasonably well, you probably already know that I’m not the kind of guy who deals with his emotions very well in public. I hate showing emotions that involve losing control over myself. Crying, anger, what have you — I will forcefully stop myself from showing these kinds of feelings in public. People have asked why I don’t cry at funerals, why I can be so rationally cold hearted when it comes to tough stuff in life in public, or why I can’t “join in” when it comes to what other people are feeling.
Truth is that I’m a very private person (which is quite ironic, given how so many of my personal opinions have gone out there in the media, on this blog or Twitter for that matter) when it comes to my emotions, mostly because I’ve never been in a place where I’ve felt safe enough to display them publicly.
Fact is, I don’t trust people enough generally to feel as if I can or should tell people what I’m feeling. I’ve learned through years of experience that your emotions are really your own thing. Nobody really cares what you’re feeling anyway. Maybe that’s cynical, but hey, I’m very cynical. It’s the way it is.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m terribly sad at funerals, I’d love to join in on things and I wish I wasn’t so damn cold when it comes to what I say and how I say it, but it’s not going to happen.
For me, being emotionally publicly has never been good. It’s always been accompanied by shame, humiliation and embarrassment. When you have a memory like mine (photographic memories are the ultimate blessing and curse), you remember how people reacted to what you did or said vividly, and it’s almost never been good for me. It’s probably why I’ve both admired and resented people who are emotionally free with themselves — I’m in a self-imposed prison when it comes to how I deal with emotional topics. I’ll deal with it, but you’ll never, ever see it unless I let you or the pressure’s too great for me to cope with anymore.
So what’s with the mea culpa here? Well, I’ve been wondering recently about a few things, especially since I recently found out that a fellow blogger and Net Friend, Chez, is splitting up with his wife.
I couldn’t do what he did on his blog; he let the entire world know about the depths of his devotion to his wife, the painful reality that he has to let her go, the very real concern of their eight-month baby girl. I admire him a lot for having the courage to post that kind of material online — I don’t resent him for it, however. I actually admire him more for it — I think there’s a certain bond he’s formed with people by being so forthcoming on his blog. He’s written on so much of his love for his wife that even now, at the end of love, he’s still profoundly affecting with his words.
All this does beg the question, however: why do we do what we do when it comes to how much we display publicly? For some of us, maybe we’ve been through so much painful stuff that we’re just past the point of caring if what we say offends the delicate sensibilities of trolls and intellectual Dilettantes. For others, we’re holding onto whatever semblance of control we might actually have by being tight-lipped with how we feel about personal matters.
I, for one, fall into the latter category. I might tell you, rather forcefully and aggressively sometimes, how I feel about Republicans, Sarah Palin or pizza toppings, but you’ll never hear me say anything to do with the really tough stuff that happened in 2007 and 2008 on here. None of you really need Google to archive my thoughts permanently on that kind of stuff. The people who matter to me already know anyway.
This all leads into a book I’m reading these days: The Ego Boom. It’s an interesting read (even if the subject matter — the triumph of hyper-individualism in this age — is a bit overdone) about how people — well, young people at least — seem to think that the World Revolves Around Them.
While the book’s focus is largely about consumer culture, there’s a parallel narrative going on with the book: the rise of the Emotionally Self-Centered person in all walks of life. We say and do things that blur the boundaries between self-esteem and narcissism, self-confidence and arrogance, et al. Blogs (online life in general, really) are the front lines of this emotional tumult.
I’ve realized that, over the past few years, that Emotional Self-Centered folks were and are still very much part of my life. You could make a reasonably compelling argument about me, too. I don’t fault people for being Ego-driven — after all, not as if people in my age group have much to hold onto nowadays when it comes to guiding institutions or people to admire on the whole (except for Obama).
Still, I’m caught in a tension between yearning to stay emotionally distant and to be more accessible. Maybe it comes down to trust. Maybe not. But there’s comfort in staying emotionally distant, isn’t there?
Anyway, enough of that…
* LIFE.COM: After almost a year of waiting, Life.com is finally live. Millions and millions of photos available for browsing online, powered by Google. I could honestly spend hours on this site.
* Sasha Baron-Cohen’s new movie, Bruno, has been slapped with an NC-17 rating due to a sex scene. He’s apparently heading back to the editing room to get a hard R rating for Bruno.