WHAT IS SHARED
As true intimacy between persons diminishes into a cacophony of the false intimacies of mass communication, transient meetings and the endless babble of those with very little to be intimate about,a new language quickly rises up, whose purpose is nothing less than to mask the true emptiness of most human encounters behind a veneer of cliched and contentless pseudo-speech.
Most glaring among this new vocabulary is the word „share,“ which has become a kind of euphemism for the utter absence of that grounded, time-seasoned intimacy which used to characterize human relationships. „Thank you for sharingthat with me,“ we say to the complete stranger who has just poured out some utterly inappropriate piece of his private life to us, most probably just minutes after making our acquaintance. Doing so, we pride ourselves on our unguardedness, our genuineness, our openness to new experiences and relationships. But, in truth, we have made yet another confession of our utter emptiness and lack of discretion.
Half crazed to close the gap between the illusory (and usually transient) closeness of physical proximity and the deeper, more fundamental reality of our essential loneliness, we invent a new language– debased, inflated, democratized into universal non-significance– notas a way of revealing a new truth (if only there werenew truths), but as a way of disguising an old one. Frenzied by the loneliness and lack of security inherent in our consumer-oriented and transient culture, we „share,“ „process,“ „network“ our way into an intimacy with those with whom we lack the one thing true intimacy requires– namely, history. Witnessing what seems to be the utter extinction of depth in human relations, we substitute the language of commercialism and modern communications (shareas in stock, processas in adulterated foods, networkas in a television station) for the age-old language of human communion.
Beneath this new language of „sharing“ is, additionally, a kind of belligerence, the sort of emotional bullying that always takes place when language is appropriated by the insincere. The assumption becomes that only those who, in fact, are embarrassing and manipulating us with their all-too-hasty revelations are „sharing,“ while those both patient and secure enough to be gradual, reticent and sincere are somehow withholding, ungenerous.
The fact is, however, that there is no such thingas „sharing“ with those with whom we have established no trust… and there can be no trust where there is no history.What is given out, instead, under the illusory vocabulary of intimacy and communion, are only „shares“ of an overvalued and rapidly depreciating stock, the emotional equivalent of the one-night-stand. In the words of Wallace Stevens: „We are intimate with people we have never seen and, unhappily, they are intimate with us.“
But who, in the end, are we more intimate with– the newly-found, unknown, untried and unproven acquaintance who has just bombarded us with the deflated „sharing“ of his so-called deepest secrets, or the more reticent, gradual, no doubt richer friend-to-be who poses the question, „If I love you, then what business is it of yours?“ For, in matters of intimacy as in drilling for oil, what bubbles up too quickly most often springs from too shallow a well.