This whole thing started several weeks back when I was having an Interesting Conversation with someone I share very few commonalities with. We typically eventually agree to disagree on many a subject, but the moral of the story is that weirdly, we are on some level friends. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that we try very hard not to be a dick to each other when our beliefs vary. We also use each other as a sounding board of sorts because we force each other to find actual validating thoughts and theories behind what we feel strongly about. In other words, it’s an accountability check of sorts that ensures I’m not just buying something hook, line and sinker.
I realized what a rare gift that is – being friends with someone you really disagree with, when, a few weeks later, Supreme Court Justice Scalia died. I read Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s writings about their strange friendship, and had that same feeling of “YES!!! She knows what I’m talking about.” I think people need a counterpart like that to facilitate not only deep thoughts about the particular moralities or ethics you espouse, but also because it leads to deep thinking about your entire frame of reference, and what you are putting out there into the world.
If that weren’t enough, a few days after that, one of my favorite memes popped up. I like it enough that it’s currently my Facebook profile photo.
Not only is it true, but I’m finding that in the weird and shaky times that seem to be at an constant and audible societal rumble, it’s an asset. And I was trying to think of a way to encourage other people to branch out and talk to interesting people in a “don’t-be-a-dick-and-don’t-get-preachy” kind of way to someone that is drastically different than the particular garden store variety level of BFF you happen to cultivate naturally.
And then Pokemon Go (PoGo) came along. It really is now officially a THING. (Like, if you haven’t heard of it, you probably live on a commune with no internet or have been walking the Appalachian Trail for 4 weeks…) If you’re one of the majority who HAS heard of it? Don’t click the “back” button if you’re rolling your eyes. Keep reading. It will be okay, I promise. I don’t actually play the game yet, but I’m using it to make an analogy, so any error about actual game play versus my perception of how it’s played is totally my fault.
What if we all had an app (let’s call it Human Go for the sake of expediency) that was like Pokemon Go but for actual human interaction? (I mean, I’m kidding… sort of. I don’t really want someone having that much data more data on people than is already happening), but what if instead of capturing a rare creature, what if you got to enter basic data points that “captured” rare humans?
Here’s the qualifier for capture for “Human Go”. You have to have actually had a 15 minute conversation (face-to-face!) with someone for it to “count”. Categories include all the pigeonhole-y, stereotypical human labels we humans are currently fired up about.
Using myself as an example, I’ve had a 15 minute face to face conversation with:
An African American
An atheist (It’s not capitalized because it’s a belief in an absence rather than a proper noun, in case you grammar folks were wondering…)
A Evangelical Christian
Several Jehovah’s witnesses
An Amish lady
Her partner, a lesbian
A transgender person
A gay dude and his partner with the most amaaaaaaaaazing love of my work. (They were picking out a shiny thing with gifted money from their recent nuptials. What an awesome conversation that was with them!)
A servicewoman who has done multiple active tours
A BDSM instructor
A professional Dominatrix
A furry (One of the people who dresses up and does fur conventions, I’m not speaking metaphorically of say, my dog. Whom I talk to an awful lot for the record, but he’s not much of an active conversationalist.)
A Yugoslavian refugee
A Serbian refugee
A 6’5″ person
A Deaf person
My list could go on endlessly, but I hope my point is made when I say that my world has been broadened exponentially, 15 minutes at a time, one person at a time. I despise the “us” versus “them” phenomenon that seems to be gaining ground. I feel like it only breeds fear when people quantify the entirety of their social interactions or tribes by a single unifying factor (at the expense and exclusion of others).
If Pokemon Go can get people off their asses and launch them forth, meeting new people that are completely outside of their “normal” social strata to discuss the spotting of a rare mythical creature, why not extend that to real life? I mean, talk about a story… “So today I was discussing the merits of running with this 50-something now-vegan guy who – no kidding! – used to be a paratrooper and now runs 50k (31 mile) races for fun. He helped me with my breathing while running.”
Get out there and play Human Go. I’d be interested to hear where your journey takes you, and as always, if this post has moved you to action, please share it!