“Hey Chris.. guess what? I’ve been given a number!” I whisper excitedly, glancing above my Android to where my husband is sitting on the couch.
He lifts one of his eyebrows. “A number?”
“Yes,” I nod in assent, repositioning myself on the couch, tucking my leg under me, and beginning to briefly explain the process.
“There’s this thing that’s been going around on Facebook. I’ve seen several people start a status off with ‘I received this number,’ and then they use that number to list little facts about themselves.. anyways, I liked those statuses and then those people either inboxed me a number (my number) or responded to their status in a comment, giving me my number. Soooo,” I continued, smiling excitedly, “now I get to post a certain number of facts about myself.” I smiled cutely, waiting for his response.
“That’s so stupid, Rose.” He rolls his eyes, shakes his head, and returns his attention to his mobile device.
And I knew that he would say that.. that it was stupid. And for a few days, I thought that he was right. I felt silly and teenagerish and stupid for feeling excited about my number (at this point, I’ve received so many numbers from so many different people that I’ve had to calculate a rough average: my number is 10).
Over the past week, I’ve spent time scrolling through my news feed, and a few times each day, another friend of mine would declare their number and share personal facts, hobbies, fears, childhood memories, likes, dislikes and dreams in a post about themselves. And I really enjoyed reading what people’s responses to their numbers were; some people took their mission lightly, sharing cute stuff like their favorite clothing item, restaurant or shopping store, while others opened themselves up in a significantly deeper way, sharing nostalgic memories, truly remarkable life events, artistic pursuits, and just generally meaningful aspects of their personal life journeys. It was all very interesting — remarkably more interesting than Facebook typically is — and I enjoyed seeing new faces declare their numbers each day.
After receiving and ignoring ten different numbers that were given to me, I decided to re-evaluate my own personal stance on the number game.
“I’m enjoying learning little things about other people,” I forced myself to admit, “so why not share stuff about me too? What’s the problem? What makes the number game so stupid and juvenile? Why ignore the number?”
And thus I was forced to consider the matter. In all honesty, I probably analyzed the whole thing way more than was necessary and gave more thought than is reasonable to the matter — it’s a Facebook thing; it can’t be that deep. But still, I’d like to share a few (literally – a few) little observations that I’ve made (as well as, at the end of this post, my number).
So, on the agenda, I have two topics that I would like to cover today.
First: (question) Why do people like to share information about themselves?
Second: (statement) Why I think the words “different,” “weird” and “crazy” are desperately, horribly, irritatingly overused.
So.. why do people like talking about themselves? I mean — me. Why do I like sharing personal information? Photos, thoughts, random little facts? Both in person and over the internet? Why does it make me smile when Chris comes home from work with a holiday tin of yogurt covered pretzels? Is it simply because I like them, or is it because he remembered that I like them? (really, it’s half and half). But you can see the point that I’m making..
Why do YOU like for people to know stuff about you, and remember stuff about you? Or can I say, to know you? Why is it so important for us to be recognized, realized and understood? Why do we like to be positively associated with certain things — things that we like? For example, I love bunnies, guitars, Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream and ice skating, so I like to think that when others (and I mean people who know me well) stumble across these things, they think of me. But why do I want that sense of association or ownership with these words, thoughts, things and ideas?
Back in the days of infant Academia (elementary school), my *favorite* days of class were the first days of class. The very first day. My clothes looked sharp and were perfectly coordinated in color, my folders and notebooks showcased pictures of things that I liked at the time and my backpack smelled fantastically new. The first trip to the bus stop was always nervously but eagerly anticipated — what assortment of folks will be traveling with me to class this year? And then, at school, which class will I have first, who will my teacher be, and what types of children will constitute my pack this year?
Typically, you’d walk into class and the teacher would have a seating chart of sorts. All of us kids would stream into class and stand awkwardly near the room’s entrance until each of us would finally hear our name called. I always breathed a mental sigh of relief as the teacher gestured that I sit at a desk located towards the middle-front of the room (the back of the room always seemed ominous and distracting to me). So then you’d sit there in your desk, with a colorful blank notebook lying in front of you and your brand new backpack sitting awkwardly on the floor, while the teacher finished her work of assigning seats. After a brief introduction involving the teacher and the purpose of the class itself, the predictable and exciting “first-day-of-class” activity would present itself: “Now class, we will go across the room and give brief little introductions of ourselves,” the teacher would smile encouragingly. I’m remembering Ms. Brasco, my 1st grade teacher in South Carolina: she was in her early fifties and tall and lanky, with short and fiery red hair and brown, squinty eyes. “When I call your name,” Mrs. Brasco continued, “just stand up –” here the class would gasp a little, “or sit,” she followed up quickly, motioning for us to calm down, “and announce your name, your favorite color, and your favorite thing to do.” The questions would vary over the years, and the “introduction method” or style would change also, but the idea was always the same: get to know the people around you and share with them some of the highlights about who you are. I always loved these group initiations. Learning about people was fascinating, and as the teacher went around the room and her gaze drew closer to me, I would think hard and deeply as I harnessed my thoughts about me; “what do you really want to say? what do you really want them to know about you?” and then I would share what I thought were my most interesting thoughts.
And today, life is the same. That’s why we have these social mediums: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (is that one still around?). All of these social media networking sites are little outlets and inlets that enable us to connect with people and to engage them — and in this internet age, we are able to limit the extent to which we engage the people in our lives to varying degrees by our own personal choosing and according to our comfort levels. We are able to probe into the lives of others, unknown, and conversely speaking, they are able to catch glimpses of our truest selves through our posts, comments, and photo updates as well as the little trivia games that pop up every now and then. Like this number game.
So, after all of that rambling, I guess it’s like this: people are intensely interested in other people, but are devotedly interested in themselves. You are yourself after all; aren’t you the most interesting person you know? And as much as I’m going to enjoy creating my little list of ten facts below, I’ll bet you $20.00 in cold, hard Monopoly cash that I’ll enjoy probing myself and delivering my responses more than you will enjoy reading them. And that’s okay. Perhaps just as important as sharing information with others for their benefit is the act of expressing ourselves, purely for our own benefit.
One last thing, and this is technically number two.
I noticed, with this number game (and in communications in general), that people frequently use the following adjectives to describe themselves: Crazy. Different. Weird. Craycray. Strange. Freaky.
Here are a few examples.
Example 1. “I’m really different and unusual and it’s hard for people to get me.”
Exhibit B. “I’m so crazy and just love to have fun.”
Scenario Blue. “I’m different and people tend to think I’m pretty freaky but I like being weird.”
Just stuff like that, you know. Now how can I put this delicately..
In a sense, it bugs the hell out of me.. people using these words. It’s like a constant cry for acknowledgement; I’m special! I’m not like anyone else! I’m DIFFERENT (aka you, reading this, are the mill of the run, everyday catch and find.. but I’m not!). And it just.. rubs me the wrong way. Reading declarations like these.
But then, in another sense, how can I really be perturbed? It’s simply what I just stated two sentences ago: a person asking to be recognized as “different,” and special, and unique. And there is certainly, absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But I guess that the heart of the problem with me, in having these words used so freely, is that we’re all different. We are all special and unique; it isn’t the “exceptional person” who is different — it’s all of us. There isn’t a set normal, and as much as we abide by stereotypes like “girly girl,” “tom boy,” “skank,” “athlete, “musician,” “stoner,” and “goody goody two shoes,” and labels like “photographer,” “free spirit, “hermit,” “introvert,” “extrovert,” “dreamer,” “optimist” and pessimist and neutralist and vegetarian and meat-a-tarian and princess of the bunnies and “gamer of the century….” where was I? right — as much as we seem to abide by all of these stereotypes, labels and mere adjectives, they can not and do not communicate the whole substance of a person.
All of these labels can be put to good use by being helpful in pinpointing certain attributes or features of a person, but they are all very general (and then, in a complete other sense – because I just love glaring contrasts – limiting). They don’t correctly paint the portrait of a person; rather, they give a hint at color, or an idea of texture. That’s how I see it. They, these adjectives and labels, are not to be picked, gathered and combined to form some kind of portrayal. They are simply facts and descriptions and little hints as to who a person is.
And that is why, alllll of these years, I have pretty successfully avoided labeling my own self as “weird” or “different” (and if you know me at all, then you know that I truly am off), because, by definition of the word (and not our common understanding of it), calling myself different would be like throwing the rest of the world into a plastic-sealed bag labeled “same.” That’s just dumb. And rude.
So, in beautiful conclusion, you are special. You are different. I love observing you and learning more about you, and I hope that you enjoy the personal and goofy insights that I choose to share with you.
My Number Is 10
So now, long at last, here are ten little facts and tidbits about me that you may or may not know. Regardless, these are what I’d like to share today.
1. I love vegetarian tacos so much that I could eat them every day. Consecutively. With no breaks. Ask Chris if you think I’m kidding; he has vegetarian chorizo practically oozing out of his ears (gross much? sorry).
2. I listen to the Spice Girls about twice a week. It’s a nostalgic kind of love.
3. I’m extremely proud of myself for pursuing a rinky-dink little Associates Degree for the past 2 and 1/2 years, forgoing quiet evenings in and fun weekends outdoors. Obtaining a degree is an important goal of mine, and I am now < 1 year away from achieving this milestone.
4. I love bunnies and the bun — well she is my spirit animal.
5. I spend a portion of each day daydreaming that I’m a videographer. I could film such interesting music videos.
6. I have always coveted boys. They make the best skateboarders and coolest musicians (girls voices typically irritate me with very few exceptions). Whenever I day-dream of being a stage musician (of the likes of Trent Reznor or the Red Hot Chili Peppers) or a famous actor (like Seth Rogen — see, I just did it again. I would technically be an actress), I picture myself as a guy. Which is weird.. because I’m not gay. Neither do I have homosexual tendencies. So it’s very interesting.
7. I talk to my German Shepherd in one voice and he responds in another (disclaimer: after reading this, you are NOT authorized to commit me).
8. I’ve never dyed my hair! Even though I’d love to have dark brunette hair (it’s the most gorgeous hair in the world), I just refuse. I wouldn’t take the time to keep up with it and I sort of pride myself in going “all natural.”
9. Growing up in an extremely religious home, I missed out on a lot of stuff during my school years. If I could go back in time and change one thing about my experience with middle- and high-school academia, I would love to have either been on a sports team or in a drama club. I think that acting or playing a sport, on a team, with other kids my age, would have been super fun.
10. I love rugs and candles, earth and pastel colors, and I intuitively know that I will never regret getting any of the tattoos on my body. I will always appreciate having little “landmarks of time” to look back on.
Until my next public wordiness,