Dec 15, 2022Liked by David Cole, Mills Baker

I’ve been drawing closer to this idea that intimacy goes badly when your relationship with yourself is broken, incomplete, evasive, or overly harsh. I’m in the harsh, overly familiar disgust category, but people who fear their own desires and flaws tend to fear the desires and flaws of their partners, too. I also think that when you move to smaller, less self-awareness-fixated cities and towns; you discover that rigid traditional / moral codes are alive and well. Anyway, the point is: I love this post!

Expand full comment
Dec 17, 2022·edited Dec 17, 2022Liked by Mills Baker

I copy/pasted so many parts of this post to keep on record for myself! Hot damn this is a banger!!!

Now I'm going to do the ego thing where I tack a small idea onto your big ones. It is associated but mostly I'm just cramming something I think is interesting into the dialogue because I'm curious for your designer thoughts.

I was talking to a french friend of mine about cancel culture, and she told me about a famous woman in france who has been blackballed for saying something that she shouldn't have (some classic shit that I personally balk at about who is a woman and who isn't, but I digress). She wasn't an expert on this, she said this thing as an aside, and now her identity is so toxic that people are refusing to sit next to her at dinner despite being a very beloved person otherwise.

My friend used the word "association" in telling this story - people didn't want to be associated with this woman. So much so that they couldn't even be in the same physical space as her, lest they be framed as formally aligned with her by doing so.

Your argument and my friend's was that, in the past, this was not the case. People would just sit at the goddamn table with someone they thought sucked or was flawed in small maybe even significant ways.

I'm not going to go into whether or not that is net good or net bad. I'm more curious to ask you now the question of exactly why this change has come on so dramatically.

My hunch is it's the tractability of individual identity, facilitated by online profiles. The functional unit of the internet is the individual profile. All of your behaviors are documented, including your associations (following people, liking their content, tagged photos of you at dinner). It all gets captured and pointed back at you through your usernames/urls.

Even if you yourself *are not that sure* of shit, even your casual associations are concretized in a way they never were before. So the result is that we are all hyper aware of our associations. People won't sit with that woman at dinner in part because the implications on perceptions of themself are too risky and too high in today's world where the individual is so concretized in public.

It seems like that's been very, very bad w/r/t mental health x identity. People who are really online, or who have online followings that are significant, are now facing a world where we are each more atomized in our sets of opinions and taste than we ever have before, *and* the stakes are higher for each of the associations we take on because those things are so tractable.

I was curious if you think this hunch that the conspicuousness / tractability of the individual profile unit online has had an impact on how we make our identity and thus how we make relationships?

Expand full comment

"A way outback take house..."

slow clap.jpg

Expand full comment

"...the nightmare process of all things becoming familiar and contemptible."

I have the exact opposite fear of aging. My stepmother's mother is in her mid-90s; everyone she ever knew in her youth is gone. The world she grew up in is gone. Everything familiar is gone. Even her children and grandchildren continue to change and expand and take on more activity and technology than she can wrap her understanding around. The one place I know she feels "at home" is Turner Classic Movies, and she needs help figuring out how to get there. I'd bet even PB&J doesn't taste right anymore.

Expand full comment

This is an interesting idea. I feel like I agree with your psychiatrist but it's never that simple, is it? I feel like I have a very healthy relationship with myself, I'm kind and supportive, not too harsh, but always with high standards. I prefer to toughen up instead of feeling sorry for myself. If I look at the mirror I might be like "Haha that's a bit fucked up but we'll get there."

But then that might not translate to my partner when I treat her like I treat myself because she might have different needs or a different framework of mind (e.g. she had a bad day and wants me to say "Oh, I'm sorry, poor thing," instead of "Life is suffering, get over it," or a less exaggerated version of that.)

So even if you're being kind to them you might come across as an asshole because they need other types of "kind."

On another level I do feel like I judge strangers way more than familiar people, I might think horrible things about them because I don't know their story, I don't care for them, I don't know the reasons for why they're doing that terribly stupid thing, and so on.

But what the hell do I know about anything, right? We live in a twilight world, peace out.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment

Reminds me of this Russian word. They say it all in one word! “умиротворение” - “мир” “творить” (umirotvorenie). To create the peace in his own soul (mind) and thus create peace around himself.

Expand full comment
Dec 16, 2022Liked by Mills Baker

Thank you for writing this.

Expand full comment
deletedDec 17, 2022·edited Dec 17, 2022Liked by Mills Baker
Comment deleted
Expand full comment