I had the most awesome fun discussions with some CouchSurfers last Friday. It was my first time hanging out with members of this massive community, and it was a great one. I swear, I think I’m developing a little bit of hippie-ness inside of me after living in Seattle for nearly a year. Meeting new people is so much fun, especially open-minded, accepting, less judgemental people that love expressing themselves, but also love listening just as much–sometimes I wonder why more of the world can’t be like this.
We spoke on all sorts of topic that somehow all seemed to point towards some common sense of spirit, be it a discussion on:
– American/Korean cultural imperialism across Asia
– A debate on linguistics and the relevance of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (which Zina claims has been disproven–whoooohooo!!!!)
– North Korea’s attempts to eliminate gov’t resistance by removing words that “fuel” oppositionm, and whether or not this is counter-productive since it creations social memes of generalized concepts
– The importance of language at communicating a movement of resistance to authority
– Whether or not Twitter’s “trending” topics are analogous to cultural memes outside of the web-context…
– Racism in Korea, Asia, and the *importance* of American imperialism to promote peace (i know Joyce would’ve loved this part of the discussion), and et cetera to infinity…) This could go on for so long about the awesome discussions we had, but from there, I gleaned a few important thoughts.
First, that I have this deep internal need to be social on an intellectual level. Sure, I have friends that I discuss politics, life, values, etc with, but not in a *long* time (at least since the debates on religion that I had with Nick/Jason) have I had that sense of making an epic scholarly journey through perspectives and life, but that was five years ago. I needed this discussion to spark my curiosity for now, and the future.
Second, (should I be starting a new paragraph???) I have a very strong sense of “sharing” what I believe and love with my friends, family, and the world. I knew this when I felt the joy of recommending a movie that moved me, or a story that somehow touched a part of my life, or even inviting a friend into a discussion that I passionately care about. That joy of sharing is so vital to my sense of contribution to the world, that if I didn’t have all these outlets to post Status Updates, Youtube / Article Links, Twitter updates, blog posts, I think I would be painting posters and hanging them off my apartment expressing the same. I had such happiness sharing ideas, listening to these peoples’ stories, that I knew I had to do it again. And I will.
Finally, I learned that in most places in my life, we highly-emphasize the importance of building relationships, building trust, and remembering names. We have this, “prove me your worth first, then we can be friends/collegues, etc…” attitude that is pervasely self-oriented, conceals personal agendas, and focuses on building “goodwill” i.e. the currency of soft-power. It might be necessary in social settings, but the CouchSurfing community blows that away completely. The hippiness that I loved was the implicit trust in people, that we can talk about personal details, share stories, without the concern of judgments or retributions because we all seemed to recognized that we were merely individuals, and while our common bond might be our language, there could have been any number of divergent lifestyles and viewpoints at that table. And somehow, it didn’t matter. I guess you kind of have to have this attitude, since people in this community come and go as fast as people you see on a bus. You might meet someone you could be best friends with, but their lives take them where they go, and that’s ok. Did I mention that after hours of passionate discussion that i hardly knew each others’ names, who they were, or where they came from? In the corporate world, asking someone’s name might have been an insult (“after this deep talk, you still don’t know my name?!”), but here, it wasn’t even necessary. As someone who can’t remember names for the life of me, I liked that :).
Anyway, the only point I wanted to make by this point is to be open, be sincere, accept those around you, and love thy neighbor. I remember reading once in a blog post a comment that some Brit had made, and it stuck with me as something to live by: “Live free and die free, fuck the powers that be, but respect your fellow man.”
Now there’s something I can live and die by.