by Kleitia Vaso

As a recurring piece of advice from an old, reliable friend and from continuous observation of my world from both within and outside, I think it wise to take something from anything that comes your way, whether you are forced into it or have chosen it voluntarily. Perhaps “forced into it” is too brutal a phrase; “no one can force me into anything,” and other such answers are the usual and expected replies of the immature. But, outside circumstances and internal workings can force the individual into unpleasant corners and, having been caught inside these traps several times, the discouraging but truthful lines of a Smashing Pumpkins’ song – Bullet with butterfly wings – play into my head almost each time: “despite all my rage / I am still just a rat in a cage.” The interesting aspect is that these lines are stamped into my head despite a mild dislike of Corgan’s voice which has led to me listening to this song a very limited amount of times. Certainly, these lines are dramatic but so are the fleeting moments of being caught permanently, without escape, within your own body.

On the topic of being overly dramatic, these thoughts came to me, as I was sitting in a lecture which some people were attending voluntarily and some semi-voluntarily. I was sort of voluntarily pushed into it…Actually I did not resist the pushing because the alternative was worse. Yet, the lecture turned out to be very interesting as it can happen when, once you relinquish your freedom, you view it with the aim of absorbing something. However, everywhere I looked, I saw screens, endless phone/iPad screens or people physically escaping as soon as there was an opening, for instance a turned off light. Were they really going to something that much more exciting? And, then Facebook or chatting…Can people be more interesting virtually than in life?! I have resorted to escape in many cases but only as a last weapon against physically and mentally-crushing boredom. Yet, this was not the case. And, so, while someone well-prepared was speaking about interesting concepts, a number of people were on FB, probably chatting with people who were in the same room. The question arose: What will they say to each other later? It seems logical that everything will be consummated within the chat, nothing will have been absorbed from the outside environment, and thus, the entire “experience” will have been a big gaping hole of nothing. This kind of inability to experience and enter into relationships with new phenomena reminds me of really stale relationships which are, I believe, two (or more) people who constantly stay together because they need a crutch to do things but, because of excessive physical togetherness, have nothing to offer each other. Because of our constant interconnectedness via chatting and whatnot, this stale relationship phenomenon in its various manifestations, concrete or virtual, has pervaded all of our relationships. What will we have left to say if we are constantly “in touch”? In order not to get bored with others and, most importantly, ourselves, we have to constantly “cheat,” betray, in a positive way. When we are in a room, listening to a lecture, we should try to get all we can from it; even one name, a tiny percentage of the information of the whole, is more than we had before. And with the little bite we have gotten, we can feed ourselves and, consequently, others and our relationships. By separating for a while and attempting to be wholly involved in something or someone who is completely unrelated to our friends, family, partners, etc., we are momentarily turning our attention away from those who might expect it, to give them a richer version of ourselves later. By giving in to facile communication and togetherness, physically or virtually, we offer and receive satisfaction for a short moment, but will ultimately lose the war.

by Kleitia Vaso