Contributed by Dustin L. Hadfield. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.
“If you are not seen, it’s like you’re not here at all.”
That’s what our tour guide told us this weekend while exploring the Main Square of Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city. That Square was one of the most beautiful thing’s I’ve ever seen (and also reminded me eerily of Disneyland…). Back when the town’s market market was moved from the square to the city’s outskirts, the square turned into socialization central, and people all came to meet and hang out in the main square for one reason: because not doing so was seen as tantamount to being trapped in your house all day. You weren’t seen as social or important or even worthy of humanity–you were an outcast.
We complain today about being obsessed with the internet, because doing something isn’t actually worth anything anymore unless we have documentation, followed by social approval. People can’t go anywhere without posting tons of pics and and getting likes and feeling “validated” for actually being there. Hell, I’ve done things and gone places just so I could take pictures, and have a good story to tell. I’ve lived a huge chunk of my life just for social validation, as I’m sure many of us do. We blame it on the internet…but is seems like this is a pretty old concept. Extroverts mandating that everyone else be either: a) extroverted like them, or b) a weirdo recluse.
This doesn’t mean it’s bad to be externally validated. But what would it be like if just once, I did something not for my future, for my family, for my friends, for my colleagues, for popularity or fame or fortune…but just for myself. Because what is my life if my sense of self is lost within it?
Until next time,
(Note: This post was also published on my personal blog. Check it out here.)