Wednesday, 16 May 2007

COMFORT STATIONS

Ms Melancholy writes eloquently – she always writes eloquently – of the unexpected joys of blogging friendships. She ponders on the difficulties of making relationships using only the written word: “We rely so much on non verbals to aid our understanding of the other. A tone of voice, a slight look of shyness, a feeling of insecurity that silently passes between us, a teasing smile that indicates I was only joking really. With the written word we have only our words and our unconscious self to play clever tricks on our minds.”

This set me to reflecting on the importance of establishing mutually comfortable distances in relationships. So often, people complain that their partner in the relationship is too close, or too far away. We all have our preferred ‘personal space’. Some people feel claustrophobic in a crowded lift or underground carriage; others enjoy huddling close together, even with strangers.

Personally, I like not to be closer than about three feet from someone I am conversing with [unless I wish to embrace them]. When – as some do – they move closer and thrust their faces uncomfortably close towards mine [it’s usually the spitters who tend to do this!] I back gently away so that if the conversation starts in the middle of the room I end up with my back against the wall.

This feeling of being potentially smothered, or else abandoned by a too-remote partner, is an important factor in the ‘precious ruptures’ which Ms Melancholy talks about in both real-life and blogging relationships. If people don’t feel comfortable about their mutual space, one or both of them tends to sheer off. The benefit of blogging is that in one sense the Internet eliminates distance – it doesn’t matter whether I am in London and the person I am blogging with is in the next street or in Finland, Canada, or the Canaries, it’s possible to feel comfortable or uncomfortable with the relative space we have established between us. But, as Ms M says, the inability to see and respond to the other’s non-verbal signals can quite easily lead to misunderstanding. I can think of two or three occasions when I have got at cross-purposes with a blogging friend because we were unable to see each other’s facial expressions.

And the physical absence of an old friend with whom you are exchanging cyber-messages can sometimes be painful – especially when you haven’t seen them for some considerable time, and long to give them a hug. The beauty of blogging is that you can give and receive lots of metaphorical hugs over the Internet, and create warm, friendly places like the burrow Snug where your cyber-friends are always welcome and, one hopes, feel at home.

26 comments:

zola a social thing said...

Great stuff Anticant. Metaphor is so needed here.

There is also, I think, another aspect to this. that is the kind of "drive-in" chat ( here today gone tomorrow). Perhaps this blogosphere is a bit of this and a bit of that all the time everywhere.

At other times it is a bit of a "Private Eye" ( too skint to sue) or maybe, if folk remember INK???

Long live this variety Show.

anticant said...

Pleased you like it, Zola. I think about these matters far more often than I write about them. Ms Melancholy's description of the rupture at the heart of some relationships being "precious" is especially poignant. I have suffered too many such ruptures. They are most painful when they occur totally unexpectedly - conveying the message that the other party felt far less for you than you had fondly imagined.

trousers said...

This is a good counterpart to Ms Melancholy's piece anticant.

lavenderblue said...

As always,superb posting,Anticant.
A lot to think about here.....

ranger said...

Much appreciated post Anti. It is a hard balance to achieve, this awkward intimacy and blind trust. I've thought of it often too and have decided for one reason or another not to post on it. You've expressed so well here in your post what I have had too much trouble trying to say myself.

They are what they are, these blogging families. I've come to the conclusion to spend some time not thinking about it. I try my best, but those precious people I can't 'read' and can't 'read' me in the always interesting 'variety show' I leave to others to figure out.

It feels like pulling on a warm sweater coat here in your snug Anti and as far as I can tell the friends I've come to know here are ones I'd enjoy sitting down with to have a coffee, tea or more potent libation at the local cafe or kitchen table if it weren't for the ocean that separates us.

Here's to reaching out without getting spat on. Off to read that post of Ms. M's.
Cheers

Emmett said...

PEOPLE Are talking nice here, so I'll only stick in that re-membrance is at once the greatest affliction & blessing, all at once....

zola a social thing said...

Don't worry Emmett : This nicey-nicey will not last. It is only that tomorrow is a religious holiday and Antirant is getting warmed up for a penitent act.
In fact our Antipants is a mean machine when roused.

Judge anticant said...

Mean machine, forsooth!

The Beadle is assembling the burrow stocks at the foot of the flagpole.

Marauding naked kayakers will be instantly apprehended and clapped to rights.

By Order

Emmett said...

YEAH, Yer Honor, you got that right! A touch of the ratwhisk on their upended bare asses in the square downtown under the Civil War statue at high noon in front of God & The Methodist Dorcas Circle & Temperance Old Bitches For Christ & Stark Boredom church ladies'll brighten up these ferret-faced twackers considerably & more than a tad bit!

Wook, Town Constable & Chimney Viewer

PS: Have the dulcet tones of this confab gone ALL to Hell yet?

zola a social thing said...

There are some that think we live in a "feelings" world of imaginary communities and smile please you are on discontented camera.

Others believe we live in what they call a "PostEmotional" society of both indifference and Orwellspeak.

Wonder what term we might give to label the Antipunk site. Sensitive Souls swimming across the tidal race of jetsom flotsom?
Or :-
Secure the PC smile of likeability?
or...?

anticant said...

I'm struck by the blithe way some blogging philosophers - even sceptical ones like Stephen Law - assume that there is such a thing as "reality", and that we know what it is.

Surely we each create our own realities, and they depend on our states of consciousness at the moment and the mood we happen to be in.

Both the "realities" Zola describes exist, alongside a myriad others. To paraphrase Orwell, "All realities are real, but some are more real than others". Sadly for the rest of us, the world is now dominated by powerful lunatic "realities" - notably those of Bush, Blair, bin Laden, and other power-obsessed freaks.

My burrow is, I hope, a warm friendly place where Sensitive Souls [and others] can drop in, mingle, exchange serious thoughts and jokes, have a cosy drink in the Snug and escape for a while from the "real" world outside which gets horrider and horrider.

zola a social thing said...

The good BURROW is also a bit like the best from the Music Hall happenings.
Conservative to the root but when in full flower radical to the edges.

Anonymous said...

We were just getting used to The Burrow as a place where reality is respected. Now we find Anticant being for the Postmodern turn.
Yet another venerable institution blowing in the wind of multiple realities.

ben trovato said...

Reality? With the naked kayaker being trailed by the Beadle and Lavvyblue's knickers flying aloft from the flagpole?

You must be joking. That's MY job.

BoldPavlov said...

Saw an interesting video of a multi-culturall 'party' - taken from a camera in the ceiling giving a plan view.
Because the different nationalities had different ideas as to proper proximity and orientation, the guests danced around the room in a sort of lobster quadrille.
The Arab wanted to move closer, the Brit wanted to move further away.
The Scandinavian wanted to move to a sideways stance, the Indian was nodding his head vigorously in a sub-continental Glasgow Kiss, the Bulgarian was confusing everyone else etc.
Lovely to watch and understand.

At one point, long ago, I worked as a trainer teaching how body language could be used to control in 'interview' situations.
Mirroring of posture can tell us when a situation of empathy exists and taking it a step forward we can
draw a person into our sphere if we so desire and know the techniques.
Very often, when I see Blair and Bush on TV I see the influence of trainers like myself in their actions - they are just so transparently false.
Similarly, these same priciples can be applied in verbal interaction.
In part, it's called SPIN.
Relationships on the net are no less immune to psychology.

zola a social thing said...

God Damit : been seen, nicked and spent by a PR specialist cum personal trainer.
Whatever next....

anticant said...

That's very interesting, Pavlov. I used to do some of that body language stuff in groupwork too.

It's about authenticity. So much communication - especially public communication today - is about insincerity; its purpose is to mislead and stitch up the other person - not to be genuine or empathetic.

Apropos, I just came across this in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Letters", which I'm reading [he is talking about Dostoievski's 'Crime and Punishment']:

"The old boyish idea of the march on Paradise being now out of season, and all plans and ideas that I hear debated being built on a superb indifference to the first principles of human character, a helpless desire to acquiesce in anything of which I know the worst assails me. Fundamental errors in human nature of two sorts stand on the skyline of all this modern world of aspirations. First, that it is happiness that men want; and second, that happiness consists of anything but an internal harmony. Men do not want, and I do not think they would accept, happiness; what they live for is rivalry, effort, success - the elements our friends wish to eliminate. And on the other hand, happiness is a question of morality - or of immorality, there is no difference - and conviction."

He wrote that in 1886, and things have only changed for the worse since then.....

anticant said...

Zola, you'd better watch it. It's not only the Beadle who's on your track. The professional trainers have their gimlet eyes upon you too!

zola a social thing said...

Bring em on
Bunch of namby pambys

pavlov's.cake said...

Must be said, the only time it helped me was when I was chatting to foxy chicks in the pub or at parties.

zola a social thing said...

Mouth watering
woof

anticant said...

Down, Zola, down - there's a good doggie. If you're not careful you will acquire a similar reputation to your eponymous original, of whom R.L. Stevenson said: "M. Zola is a man of personal and forceful talent, appproaching genius, but of diseased ideals; a lover of the ignoble, dwelling complacently on foulness, and to my sense touched with erotic madness."

So there!

The Burrow Beadle said...

No erotic madness in the burrow.

By Order

Merkin said...

What do you mean 'aquire', Anti.
'Too late!' was the cry.

zola a social thing said...

Re: RLS. What do you expect from a failed protestant?

BTW : concerning original nice post. Must say I did tell you so - would not last I said. Now look. Another fine mess Anticant !

anticant said...

What do you expect in a surrealist Snug?