I live in a huge city. As cities go, Toronto isn’t the biggest ever, but it’s still big enough that you can be completely anonymous. I often walk briskly down Bloor or Yonge St. and think about the people I pass. What kind of lives do they have? What are they thinking about? Are we just faces in the crowd? Does anyone really see anyone here?
It’s even more isolating when you see people on their phones constantly. We live in a world of social media – I, myself, am connected constantly. I’m always checking something, responding to messages virtually, emailing people. I think it’s easy to lose yourself in the virtual world. It’s easy to pretend you have tons of friends, but how many of them are actually checking in with you outside of social media? Which ones can you depend on in a crisis?
In the dark winter, I think it’s easy to fade into the background here. I’ve found myself awkward with people in real life, wondering if I’m appearing as stupid as I feel. Wondering if the many faces on the subway actually see me as a person, or as another body that’s taking up space on the seat beside them. I wonder how to meet people, how to connect. I wonder if my friends think about me the way I think about them.
These are egocentric, selfish thoughts, but I think they’re really indicative of human nature. I’ve always taken the view that no one is special, because everyone is. I can name something special about just about every person I know. I can name something I love about them – something that no one else can do. And I know that’s why we’re friends. That’s why we’re close.
Do you ever think about what people say about you when you’re not in the room? What they say about you to their friends or family? I lost a dear cousin in the winter and the things said at his funeral were beautiful. But did he hear them when he was alive? Did he feel as adequate, loved, wanted and special as we felt he was? It’s debatable, really. It’s debatable if anyone really feels wanted in our fast-paced world.
My friend Annabelle at The Belle Jar Blog posted this article on her Facebook page today and it made me think. My new job is as a social media coordinator. I’m trying to make the brand I work for heard, special, important. And as a writer, self-promotion is huge. I often feel lost in the shuffle, screaming into the void, wondering if the people I admire and think are so special are ever even going to see me in the huge faceless crowd. It can be despairing. It can be hard to remember your own importance.
These are things I want people in my life to know. I see you. I see what you do. I know I need to call more. I know I need to reach out to you, to let you know I love you. It’s so easy to think that a Facebook message or Twitter retweet shows my love, but I know it really doesn’t let you know just how much you really cross my mind.
Maybe I need to write a snail mail letter, in my own handwriting that few people can read, and tell you. Maybe I need to write a poem and give it to you in person. Maybe we need to meet at some coffee shop for overpriced food and beverages and laugh until we cry. Maybe seeing the tears will make us feel more real to each other.
It’s time to disconnect and really reach out. I want to give you a hug for real. I want you to know I think you’re important. You’re important to who I am as a person, and you’re important in society.
This city of three million faces is the city I chose to be my home. I’m the only one that can state my own importance in the crowd. I’m the only one who can stand up and assert that I’m special, I’m worth listening to, I’m amazing.
I am, and so are you.