The Big Picture: Recognizing true connection

By: Annie Sragner, Assistant Arts & Life Editor

There are seven billion people in this world, which means there are seven billion ways to view and interact with the world on individual levels. This spectacle sometimes creates illusions in our lives considering how alone we can feel, even among others.

Take Degrees of Separation as an example. This popular theory presumes that every person in the world is only separated by six connecting steps at most. Most people, strangers at first, know someone who knows someone who knows someone, etcetera, who knows you.  Kevin Bacon might be closer than you think.

We exist in small communities that connect us more than we can imagine. We share the same environment and we are made of the same elements, yet we feel so disconnected and alone at times.

In a metaphysical sense, I often think about how many readers of this column I actually have met. Although you and I may not know each other personally, we are still connected in thought (if you’ve been reading). We share common experiences in Towson and you may or may not agree with my perspectives that I write about.

Generally, we’re disconnected as strangers, though we’re able to connect with familiar peers through empathy. We take our own past experiences and apply them to what we know about the lives of others in order to better understand their realities. We often get so caught up in the world of our minds that we believe it is the only one that exists.

When we narrow our perspectives, our individual worlds are also narrowed. There is a sociological term called collective effervescence, which is where one loses his or her individual identity and adopts the group mentality, like at sporting events or the voting booth. You haven’t completely lost your individualism, you’ve just had a change in outlook.

The saying “It’s a small world after all” has perspective. Microscopic organisms and bacteria are doomed to a life of small perspective, but ours can be grand and global, and in fact gargantuan.  But as college students, we’ve only scratched the surface.  There’s a lot more to connect with, experience, meet and open up to.

Remember, we are only as alone as we allow ourselves to be. If you mentally limit the influence of the external world and substitute it for the “you” world, that leads to isolation, which satisfies the introvert in all of us. If you share experiences with others and place value on being on the same page, this satisfies the extrovert.

Internal fluctuations between individual and group perceptions depend on what we allow ourselves to experience. See the world in the way that is best for you.

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