April 10, 2007

Out of the comfort zone

I've been meaning to write a post on this for a while but I don't really know how to write it, or what exactly the point is that I want to make. So, bear with me if it turns into a long ramble.

Since living in Tokyo (and basically also, since starting this blog) I've started meeting more and more people from the internet. It's really become an addition to my social life in the real world. And in that sense, it's been very good as well as I've made some fabulous new friends, met really interesting people, and it has made life just a bit more adventurous.

It is always strange when meeting these people though. I've become fascinated by how contact is never initiated in the same way, or kept up in the same way as a different contact. This is especially true for one-on-one contact - you can be msn'ing for months and finally accidentally meet for coffee, or out of the blue start emailing and see eachother within days.

Some of my other friends are usually quite surprised (well, not anymore, come to think of it) when I tell them I am going out to dinner with a guy I met online, or that I'm going to see a concert of a band that I don't know with people flying over from the US. It makes it very fun as well. I think that most people reading this have some sort of experience with meeting random people of the net though, so maybe you can relate a bit more ;-)

In any case, I've thought about it before, but these past few weeks have been a bit intense in this sense, and will continue to be too, I think. I love meeting all these new people, but it's also scary as hell. It's easy to portray a certain image on-line, but is that really you off-line as well? On-line you actually have time to think about your quick and witty response, but in real life? It's never happened that I don't get along with someone in real life, but hardly anyone is the way I expected them to be. So I doubt I am what people expect neither.

I've also come to realize that it is a way for me to expand my comfort zone, so to speak. I don't seem to be looking so much for a relationship as I am looking just for new people in general. People who are outside of my (great, but in a way also confining) group of friends at home, people who can give a new form of inspiration maybe also (or just give me good tips on exciting new music and gigs). And I think I've also started to see it as a way of pushing boundaries, becoming more assertive, becoming more comfortable amongst completely unknown people.

I was surprised recently when several people seperately from eachother started saying how they really thought I was really sociable, could talk to everyone and have no problems in just approaching anyone. It was good to hear, but so different from what I think of me, and how others usually see me - different from the image that I think I portray. On the other hand, I know I'm getting better at it, and by pushing myself to meet new people (it be either a group of foreign travellers to catch up on traveltales, or a potential romantic interest) I think I'm actually doing myself a big favour by it as well.

Of course, it doesn't mean I will start doing stupid things like drinking champagne on some stranger's balcony ;-)


Brian said...

Hi Machi! In a certain way people are allways -at least a tiny bit- different when you meet them in real, than the the image you make of them when being on the web. I have, and i think all people meeting people from the net, have that same experience most of the times. The way you're interpreting these experiences, look like a way for you to discover yourself in a pretty comprehensive way. Not something everyone likes to do ;) You must be a pretty fair person (to yourself) to be able to grow like this as a person :) And that's a compliment too :-)

You are indeed a very social person, not judging to fast, but also sympathetic, intelligent, relaxed and a very good listener ánd speaker I can say (people reading this will probably think we have met, but let it be their own image in this context to judge that :)
I think in a philosofical way, that there is no such thing as ABSOLUTE identity. From birth you are exploring your place in your world. It's then a combination of how to get food, love and attention. When you're able to learn this in a way suiting your very own desires and talents the image of yourself developes in a way feeling confident and being able to fully fullfill your personality. (that's my combination of Freud, the Humanistic and cognitive visions on this .. so far ;) The cognitive aspect lies in the fact to, that your convictions on (all) aspects in life are a summary of convictions of others filtered by very strong patterns of especially those early years.

We are in fact all searching, most people unaware, for something called 'self' But as Carl Jung is convinced that all people want to fullfill their very own capacities as the most important goal of a human being. The dayly reality is mostly far from that. But that conclusion is also very very SUBJECTIVE!! as you have been proving in finding a growing nice way in forming your own social environment and at the same time conserve your safe and proved circle of friends.

I once saw an experiment on Discovery t.v. where a bunch of people were asked to make a facial image of one particular person they knew. And construct him by memory on a police-facial-image computer. The result: many very different faces. Filtered in their heads by their own representation system.

It is that system that makes an image of someone you contact on the net :) But because the input is incomplete, and lacking things as smell, movements, facial expressions and voice/intonations etc. (non-verbals/senses) the image will be false indeed :) But comparing these two things; your own representations and the direct 'real' image of someone, seems like a good way to grow personally :) And test your convictions on yourself, the world and others in a adventurous but safe ;-) way. Good for your well being and good for others and for piece and a better world :)))

Think you knew all this, but not from my perspective :)))

You get my blessings,
Your a nice person :)


Brian said...

oh, forgot to say, I think that assertiveness is something you've managed to be when you want it. Another thing I intuïtively feel in your writings especially, is your fine controlled way to be humorous ;-)) Maybe thats something suppressed by your self-image and (therefore) trusted surroundings too.

So there is much, but even more in you, I'am affraid ;-))))

'Een bloem op een zonnig vredig veldje, RUSTIG aan 't ontluiken,
RUSTIG hè ;-)) ... niet te snel :))

groetjes! :)

fenneke said...

hey machiruda,

I think it's nothing out of the ordinary that you feel/appear different on the net than in real life. I think it's not so much the net/real life juxtaposition, but just the idea of 2 different environments in general. f.e. when i was a kid i was a totally different person when i engaged in scouting activities than when i was at school. I think there's nothing wrong/strange about it; it only becomes awkward when the two worlds get intertwined at some point, f.e. when meeting a net friend in real life (or vice versa ;) ), or, like i had, when i met scouting friends at school. My school friends (or rather 'acquaintences' :) ) were always very surprised to witness such an encounter, when it suddenly was revealed that i actually *did* know how to crack jokes and engage in normal conversation.
And when you think of it, like you also noted, circumstances do matter an can differ greatly, especially in the net/real life situation. I have a net friend in japan whith whom i get along really well, we can chat for hours and write each other Kbites of emails. But the few times we actually met in person we turned out to be totally incompatible socially! That was so weird, escpecially when we each returned to our own computers and after a few hesitant emails continued chatting like nothing had happened!
This is also why Second Life, and all the online role playing games for that matter, are such a hit. Just the 'tiny' adjustments in appearance, the speach time lag, and not to mention the feeling of anonimity, opens a whole new world for people. Change the circumstances and the people will change. It's just that a lot of people are not too happy about 'real life', especially the real life outside the friends/family group, being the hardest one to live in.
But, if that makes you any happier, I can assure you that you function just fine as a 'real life friend'! But I do get your point, I know what you mean.

Brian said...

I agree with Fenneke, who also mentions the actually very normal different parts of our personallity in general. They are called Ego-States and have nothing to do with abnormal or scarry things like multiple-personality. They are as Fenneke says just different roles towards people in different situations.

This ofcourse also, is a very interesting perspective to look at the net-real-life phenonomen you mentioned in your Post.

So lets thank Fenneke for this! :)
cheers! :)