Sunday, October 28

Human After All


I half watched a film called Waking Life last night, it was about a person stuck in his own dream who realised that it was a dream but couldn’t wake himself from it. He kept meeting characters in his dream who would tell him profound or strange things and new and interesting philosophies.

One particular encounter struck a chord with me; The main character of the film accidentally bumps into another person on the street and they both apologies, the woman then stops and asks our hero if they can have an actual human moment instead of being ant like, antennae out feeling around so they can get from point A to B in the most efficient way but with no real, human interaction. She explained that we have set responses for set questions and for each interaction a set reaction.

We bump into someone and say ‘excuse me’, we hear someone sneeze and say ‘bless you’, ‘Do you want coffee with that?’, ‘Have a nice day now’, ‘Will you be paying by cash or card?’

It’s like we’re automatons and we sometimes forgo what makes us human for the sake of just existing, or getting along in the most efficient manner. It’s something I feel when I enter a shop in Japan, the reactions are set, the questions always the same, there’s no real human interaction, that smile… it always looks that genuine, which makes me wonder if it is.

And other encounters too. Meeting someone for the first time, I always get the same questions, they’re polite and they suggest that your partner is interested but they say nothing about them and reveal little about you. It can become almost like you could rehearse and then just rehash the same answers to everyone you meet here and thus make as little impact on each person you meet, and have none of them impart upon you either.

The situation is worse when you can’t communicate very well; anything less than fluency is seen as a serious disability to a Japanese person and thus they act accordingly, read patronisingly. Even though we don’t speak the same tongue I’m still a person, I’m still capable of sharing more than robot answers and ant-like reactions. Where are the real human interactions?

Sometimes, I find myself so in need of humanity that I find the extreme of my emotions and explore them in an introvert manner for days upon end, sometimes it feels like depression sometimes its almost the opposite, but each time I know that something is actually happening to me, I’m still alive, I’m not just a set of prescribed reactions from a phrase book, and even though most of the people I meet here will never fully realise it, I am human.

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