Tuesday, January 27, 2015

7 point three billion people

As of this writing, the World Population Clock tells me that there about 7.3 billion people on the planet. That's an enormous amount of people.

Growing up in New York City, something I used to hear was, "If you want to do something on a Saturday in NY, chances are that at least 10,000 other people have had the exact same idea."  To me, it's not about the number of people out there, it's about how many of them are having the same idea that I have. They are reaching out. Maybe they feel alone, and they want to connect too.


I know that I'm alone in my own mind. The feelings we feel are personal, and only make sense to the person who is feeling them.

In the below video, you'll see a summary of how we see colors. The red that I think I see, is maybe not the same red that you think you see. I'm not you; so I don't know if we're observing it the same way.

I think that the feelings we feel are (like the colors) something that we can't know just by looking at a person. 

When I see you crying; I can't say 'you are sad'. I don't know why you cry. I don't know what it's like to feel things the same way that you feel things, I can't. I don't know what sadness feels like to you any more than I know what red is to you. I don't know what your 'sad' or 'happy' feels like.


What I do know is that all 7.2 billion of us have felt sad and happy at some point in our lives; and all of us know what feeling sad and happy means to us. So if I see someone crying, I can't say I know that they are sad. Maybe they just have something stuck in their eye. If I see someone laughing, I can't say I know that they are happy.

All I can do is ask them how they are feeling. Maybe they will tell me.

What does feeling happy feel like for you?



SL said...

Feeling happy is like sunshine and a light breeze.

Belle said...

Happiness is a confidence you feel from within. It is allowing yourself to feel every emotion and being your true self.

Janet said...

Thanks SL and Belle! I love hearing your thoughts.

JM said...

I couldn't watch the video, but if it's about what i think it's about, it's an idea i've always loved to play with. I always like to say, "Everyone's favorite color is blue."

... of course what i _mean_ is, "everyone's favorite color is whatever color causes them to see what i see when i see blue," but that's too long and less punchy. :)

I've often wondered if this idea could be extrapolated to other things. Maybe we each hear sound differently, or even see shapes and patterns in slightly different ways, or think of things like numbers or space or experience our bodies in unique ways. Perhaps this has everything to do with how we understand the world, or what we're good at. Perhaps most musicians experience sound in a more intense way than average, while artists see colors brighter, and athletes relate to their bodies in physical space in some more precise way. There's no way to know! As Scott McCloud put it, "We are each profoundly alone."

... which is why i find it neat that you've taken this concent and extrapolated it into emotion and empathy. That's a really neat concept! I'm curious to chew on that for a bit. :)