It comes as no surprise to you when I say that there are a lot of people in the world. We watch them walking past us every day, driving in their motor vehicles frantically or cycling by in an eye’s blink. It’s something that we, for the most part, have become so accustomed to that we
barely ever stop to give it a second thought.
Isn’t it hard to comprehend that there are people absolutely everywhere? That each one of
these beings has a beating heart, a set of thoughts, and unfulfilled dreams? I find it endlessly fascinating to think about this sometimes whilst walking around the city. What are people thinking in these moments which I’m never going to have a way of knowing? Where are they going and what are they doing today? How do they feel? Did they see me and will they one day see me again?
The likelihood is that the person who passed you in the streets last Thursday on the way to brunch with your school friend will not be a regular character in your life but in a way, I guess that can be beautiful and serve as a reminder about the power of first, or in some instances only, impressions. We pass by so many people in our lifetimes and there is no tangible way to remember or get to know them all, no matter how much that we might want to. On one hand, this is rather sad as I mean, who doesn’t want to be remembered? But when you realistically take in the grand scheme of things and the vast scale of the Earth’s population it becomes significantly harder to remain offended.
The constant flow of human traffic doesn’t only flood our physical lives either. If you are one of the 4.78 billion people in 2020 who uses a mobile phone (1) then you are likely already aware of the virtual space that I am about to start referring to next.
Us social media users are all guilty of going on the occasional pointless scrolling binge. Before we know it we have found our old friend’s profile, then our old friend’s uncle’s profile, followed by the profile of our old friend’s uncle’s dog. Now don’t get me wrong, the connectivity aspect of these platforms is insane, but how often do we actually stop to remember that the majority of the accounts that we are clicking on are a human being? I say ‘majority’ because I felt that someone was bound to think “but what about the bot accounts?” to themselves silently as they read that sentence but bots aside, really take this on board. These are people. Millions and millions of pages by millions and millions of people at our disposal from a number of taps away. It’s crazy.
When I ponder these sorts of things I think that it’s definitely no wonder why people can sometimes be left feeling like a small dot in the world because, to be bluntly honest, we are. We are tiny dots that most people are never going to know or remember. Does that sound self-deprecating and pessimistic? A bit. Does it have to be taken up in that manner, however? Not necessarily.
Being a little dot can be cool. It makes your adventures more personal and saved for only those that you truly hold close and value in your life which, at the end of the day, is surely what matters most? I totally understand the human desire to be known and to leave a notable impact upon the world before departing to new realms but we all leave impacts; we leave them every day. Each interaction that we make affects how a person thinks and feels, each thing that we purchase has a domino effect down the line in relation to the environment and employment, and each place that we go or push ourselves to step into is a direct step that causes other instances to unfold within the future. Whether you can see it or not you have more power and personal agency as a little dot than you may initially think, and even the biggest celebrities in the world are still incomparable to the enormity of the planet itself.
Another place that human traffic becomes evident is on dating apps where you can quite literally swipe through reels of strangers knowing little to nothing about them aside from the filtered look of their faces. But these profiles are people, not just faces, and I think that can often be forgotten. Each person there wants something and is around for a different reason, and that’s something you have to take the time to explore and figure out.
In a world full of choices I am frequently left to question what relationships of all contexts mean to me. Friends, acquaintances, and partners are separate from one other and live very individual lives, or at least that’s how I feel it should be. I used to be a person that concretely believed in bonds lasting forever but as I’ve gotten older and have become more acutely aware of human overload and growing apart, this feeling has weakened. I am accepting of the fact that bonds aren’t guaranteed to hold permanency in the defined sense but I do my best to not be cynical and see everything and everyone as temporary either. It can be difficult, not going to lie, especially seeing as it’s common knowledge that the majority of bonds fall apart, but if we have no faith in the people around us from the get-go then we are surely set up to fail.
Humans are complicated creatures but there are two things that we do know about them for sure. Firstly, as stated at the beginning of this article, they are everywhere. And secondly, they have the capacity to feel. Regardless of whether you meet a person once or one hundred times, each encounter is going to cause them to feel something internally, and it will cause you, in turn, to feel something too. As much as it isn’t right to hold ourselves wholly accountable for the thoughts, feelings and emotional wellbeing of every person that we come across in life (that would be extremely heavy and infeasible), I do believe that we could relatively easily try to be more self-aware in regards to our actions and verbalizations. You don’t have to go around smiling at everyone if that isn’t your cup of tea, just being civil is more than enough.
People are everywhere, and that’s a pretty incredible thing. Who knows, maybe the next time that you are crossing the street you will remember reading this article and think a little more deeply into it.
Source 1: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/how-many-phones-are-in-the-world
Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash
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