Sunday, November 16, 2008

Me vs The World

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“Has it ever occurred to you,” my mother used to ask, “that perhaps, just perhaps, if the rest of the world disagrees with you it might not be everyone else who is in the wrong?”

Periodically I’ve wondered about this.

I did find it odd, for example, when I was in Canada people seemed to think that not only did I have a bizarre accent, but they had none at all. This was in complete contrast to my own opinion.

I’ve always found the idea of wearing football shirts when you’re not playing football a bit strange too. Especially when people wearing one kind of shirt feel obliged to intimidate or beat to a pulp, someone wearing a different coloured shirt.

Nationalism has always been an enigma to me. Why wave a flag to say I was born on this bit of rock rather than that bit of rock. And what’s that? You think we should go over to other people’s bits of rock and shoot them? No, no, I’m afraid your reasoning escapes me.

And even more peculiar, I am expected to show my support for athletes, pop stars or other famous people because they were born on the same bit of rock as me, even though I don’t know them at all.

Not to mention I was supposed to support the school rugby/ football/ cricket teams, despite the fact the aggressive bullies who were out to make my life a misery usually populated them.

Religion is a bit surprising too. There are far more people in the world who have some kind of unprovable metaphysical belief system than atheists. Indeed, more people in the world believe in reincarnation than don’t. If sanity is governed by majority reasoning, then all who do not believe they will be reborn must be insane.

Then there’s TV. Soap operas, game shows and “reality TV” all leave me cold, and yet they are the most popular forms of television in the country.

What about beauty? Why do so many people cling to one, narrowly defined definition of attractiveness, when we are surrounded by such exquisite diversity?

Having pets always seemed a bit weird to me. Oh I can fully understand using animals for work - sheep dogs, cart-horses, huskies etc - but parrots, hamsters and snakes? As I write this, a family have just walked past the window with a huge Irish wolfhound on a lead. I have to say they didn’t look much like Irish wolf hunters to me; the dad was wearing a Manchester United football shirt for one thing (and he didn’t look like he plays for Manchester United either).

Why would anyone want to buy an incredibly lifelike baby doll that “looks, feels and even smells like a real baby,” for £95?
Who collects Cliff Richard plates, “rimmed with precious 22ct gold”?
And do dog owners really have no sense of poetry?

The world out there rarely seems to make much sense.

Mind you, I’m the kind of person who tends to assume everyone has mental health problems, and anyone who says otherwise is just in denial. For that matter, I’m also always surprised to find anyone over the age of 34 who has never considered suicide as a rational option.

To me, of course, all my reactions are perfectly ordinary; they don’t seem weird, bizarre, peculiar, strange, mysterious, unusual, outlandish or eccentric. But in so many ways they appear to be at odds with general consensuses.

I daresay anyone reading this will agree with some and disagree with others, but very few will consider all my viewpoints exactly as their own.

This can lead so easily lead to a sense of isolation, alienation and even a fear of being found out to be different.

But that seems pretty universal: just about everyone feels they don’t quite fit in. And those who fear discovery the most are often those who shout the loudest about the need for conformity.

The fact is we all feel pain, excitement, fear, love, anger, happiness and despondency. What provokes any of these emotions is different for each of us, but we all feel them nevertheless.

So while I can go through times when I’m convinced I must have been exchanged at birth by aliens doing some kind of experiment to see if I’d notice, I content myself with the fact everyone feels this way at some point in their lives.
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23 comments:

Charlie said...

I have never subscribed to the Lemming Theory of Conformity because, to me, it indicates an inability to think and do for oneself. Having an opinion that differs from 9 billion other people doesn't make it wrong—it merely makes it an opinion I believe in.

Nonconformity in thought and deed, however, do not negate our emotions, and I wonder if the two are even connected.

Jessie said...

I think you think about things too much :o)

debra said...

Just the other day, my lovely husband of many years and I were talking about something. I looked at him and said,"You know-------this is not mainstream thinking." we've always kind of followed our own path---no fake babies and ugly expensive plates for me!

Conan Drumm said...

Intergalactic Memo:
Directorate
Experimental Reactive Creature Centre - ZvstedH383Hrnd/q9254v

Subject: ;QW/E023R/MASCMKPQ;CD
ID: /BEARDED1/

Report:
SubjectRESPONSEnormalTOabnormalSTIMULI

Mary Witzl said...

This speaks to me on many levels. I have always defended my right to be weird -- or rather, weird by others' definitions.

I have NEVER understood why people need to collect plates featuring people they don't know, let alone fancy gold-rimmed ones. And I'm with you 100% on the patriotism and sports thing too -- that has sailed right over my head. I also have never figured out why people need great big meat-gobbling dogs (vegetarian dog-owners in particular rather puzzle me), but each to her own. After all, I've got to have a cat or two around or I just don't feel whole...

Sini said...

I know. The world is a crazy place. Difficult being the only sane one in it. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Charlie - you and I may not be the most conformist people around, but there's plenty of it about

Jessie - you're certainly not the first to mention this. Others include my mother, my wife, several friends and a few other bloggers... :)

Debra - what about ugly babies and fake expensive plates?

Conan - I knew it, you bastard!

Mary - I've always loved your... non-conformity :)

Sini - aha! So you're the sane one! I was wondering who it might be... ;)

savannah said...

mr. moose seems to think that we're normal in our abnormality of thought & deed...or something like that xoxoxo

PI said...

I still recall - with a chill of fear, finding oneself in a strange environment where - before one even opens one's mouth one is looked at askance and ganged up on. I'm not even sure if it happened or if I dreamt it.

Kim Ayres said...

Savannah - just your average weirdo?

Pat - that sounds like my childhood school experiences

Kanani said...

I try to find my bliss by rarely thinking about anything! ;)

Kim Ayres said...

Very Buddhist!

Brave Astronaut said...

[slamming down the cup that moments ago was full of Kool-Aid]

I have no idea what you are talking about. Everything is fine with everything, isn't it?

Ronnie said...

As time goes by you'll cease to notice all these things and certainly cease to care about them, you'll become increasingly convinced that you alone are right and the rest of the world is plain wrong or plain insane. Either way you'll be considered Mad, eccentric or just a grumpy old man.

Eryl Shields said...

How much do I now want to get my hands on one of those fake babies and give it a good sniff? How can you manufacture the smell of a baby, and do they all smell the same? Patrick Suskind's sinister tale comes to mind.

Archivalist said...

You know, everyone else in the world is wrong.

Except me, of course. And maybe my wife, if she's watching.

Carole said...

Nice post, but I still think you are an alien. From the land of Iplayscrabblebetterthanyou. Why they picked you instead of me, I don't know...but at least I don't have a weird accent, and I wear a football jersey, and I have a huge flag,and I believe in this incredibly ridiculous theory about God, and... O for Pete's sake, I'm boring myself.

Kim Ayres said...

Brave Astronaut - I had no idea about the Kool Aid reference. Nice one :)

Ronnie - I am trying so hard not to turn into a Grumpy Old Man. If you ever read me writing seriously about why the youth of today aren't as respectful as they wer in my day, you are authorised to euthanise me.

Eryl - I can only imagine the smell of a baby is a combination of pee, poo, puke, nappy cream and talcum powder. But I don't think it would require murder to get the scents

Archivalist - well there is that wonderful line in Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, "They discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying"

Carole - But would you buy a Cliff Richard plate?

michael greenwell said...

"Earth is an insane asylum, to which the other planets deport their lunatics."
Voltaire

Ronnie said...

"They discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying"

Isn't that just splendid ? I would die happy had I written that.

Kim Ayres said...

Michael - sounds like Douglas Adams must have read Voltaire too :)

Ronnie - it is rather splendid, isn' it?

Kiwi said...

Maybe in the end, we all really are crazy. Sanity is relative, it's your comparison samples that determine the sanity of anything. So what if we're all crazy? Does it even matter? The most important thing is being yourself, the hardest thing is figuring out just who that person is. Maybe I'll figure it out someday soon!

Kim Ayres said...

Kiwi - welcome to my ramblings, and thank you for taking the time to comment :)