Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast

Return to the Periphery

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False Creek South summer

Summer has departed in my absence. My mind turns to the dark months ahead, and the garden of relationships that ease their passage.

We live in such a lovely city. The sky is tremendous. I often lose myself in the aesthetic qualities of this place. My connection with the world is a strongly visual one, and Vancouver’s ethereal appearances play a major role in why I chose to live here. Yet my return feels flat in human dimensions, perhaps in unavoidable contrast to summer brightness and the levity of travel.

The trip I returned from was a formative one. Yet I find few are interested, or indeed even recognize the places I have been. I find it incomprehensible not to express curiosity, not to allow another the fragile opportunity to share experiences and offer a more complete picture of the world. Instead I feel shut away, often with the coda that it could have been shared on Facebook. Maybe I don’t belong in my generation. I am baffled by the lack of candor and directness by my peers, by the digital sieve through which we compulsively pour our raw experiences. I see the Millennial mind as a vacuous and dangerously compartmentalized one. I am frightened by the prospect of this generation making the great decisions of the world. We can’t even talk to one another about frank impressions or unmediated feelings. Everything is so rigorously couched, so furtive and processed for public view, that I fear we no longer even listen to ourselves. Privacy has become an embarrassment, sincerity a liability.

Perhaps this is inescapable, and a common pattern of all Millennials in developed economies. Perhaps we are all becoming digitally dissociated by simulacra of ourselves on tiny screens, unable to actually converse with the person sitting beside us or hold an unexpected conversation. Perhaps I shouldn’t even look for this, for I will always be disappointed against the current of our times.

Yet I am dogged by a sensation that I am somehow doing it wrong, as if Vancouver’s peculiar shyness can somehow be unraveled by skill. As if by some subtle change of perspective or undiscovered social channel I will find a way to communicate with others in a way that makes me feel less alone and more human. Perhaps this is illusory. It sometimes drives me mad.


Author: Chris

I'm the author of Reflecting Vancouver, a West Coast blog devoted to urbanism, culture, politics, philosophy, and everyday living in Vancouver. Right now I'm taking a break to travel.

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