Just some scattered, rambling thoughts today. I like to use writing like a silent therapist/ philosopher buddy.
How is it that we trust? It’s an interesting aspect of human connections and although it is not unique to homo sapiens, what makes it remarkable is that it is something which we can build and place in complete strangers who we have no right to meet in the natural world. Someone born in South America can very conceivably meet and become friends with someone from Europe in this day and age which suggests location is not a limiting factor.
So what is it then? Thinking through it, I distilled it into a couple of elements:
1) Meeting the expectations set. In the sense, if you have a good friend, likelihood is they are seen as reliable by you that if you were in a time of need, they can be there for you. When someone suddenly drops off with no explanation, it can bring about feelings of abandonment and neglect since we do not expect that. So long as said friend meets the expectations held for them, this helps continue the trust. Although I would argue that perhaps this is a variable factor in its importance of trust depending on the individual.
2) Your impression of that person. You think you know that person, so therefore they are a relatively known quantity and thus you can make the judgement of whether you can place trust in them or not depending on the scenario. However, and this is the bit I don’t understand, people are never a fixed quantity. We are constantly changing, adapting, learning and we continuously have to learn new things about ourselves. So how is it that we view the people in our lives as set personalities?
In response to the second point, I think partly we have to operate on this level to be able to conduct our own lives with us in the centre, we cannot try to learn and understand down to the smallest detail all the people around us. Time is limited and therefore we build “profiles” of what we know about people in order to understand where we sit (and thus what the options are) and how to move forward.
But humans are a perfect example of a paradox in so many ways. Particularly, for the purpose of this essay, in the way that we crave change but at the same time hate change and crave routine and/or stability. The modern society churns out people who are eager to go to school, go to university (optional but preferable), find a job in a career, find a partner at some point, settle down and start a family. And yet, as mentioned above people are ever-changing so how can this restrictive template fit all people? Perhaps that’s why it’s a cliche that people go through some sort of crisis anywhere between 20-60 or perhaps even later (because we all know that cliches have some element of truths). We are conditioned from such a young age that there are constants in your life – or near enough. And this helps creates feelings of being connected, purpose and security. And yet, those of us with curiosity and the courage to explore, will not be satisfied by just those. If those three aspects were the only things we ever craved then no-one would ever move away or travel.
As I write this, I realise I am wholly speaking for me and possibly other people who might think along similar lines to me. I am aware that there are masses of people who are born, grow up, live and die in the same town – knowing the same people, same routines their whole lives. Each to their own but I don’t personally understand that. Side note – how much does it count as philosophy if the conclusions you draw are very much biased to only you? Hmmm….
Another implication of the thinking you know someone (because you think of them based on your prior knowledge and experience of them), is that your library of knowledge is limited by being built from historical interactions. Since we do not spend 24 hours of everyday with anyone, not even our partners, how is it that we feel like we know someone? How much do we fill in the gaps with our imaginations? And is it even possible to know someone? (That one’s a real con in the relationship debate)
The last paragraph was driven by me having just re-watched Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (great but very sad movie) in which there is a point that is made that you can continue to learn about someone even if they have expired. Just for context. But it’s a very real question that circles in my mind. Any opinions are welcome.
I don’t really make New Years Resolutions because as a true realist, I know new habits do not take unless you build them into your routine. But for 2019 and onwards, I do aim to try and adopt the perspective that people are less of a permanent quantity. For some who may read this piece, it might sound not that big of a deal, for me as I am it is.
Happy New Year and Good Luck to all in 2019