I wasn’t planning on talking about this at all today (stay tuned for my next post about read receipts), but a conversation with a foreigner I met recently really got me thinking about my identity as a Los Angeles native.
My new friend’s words were, more or less, the following:
“I’ve noticed that the people in LA are kind of…superficial. When someone meets you, they’ll ask you what you do, where you live, what car you drive, and if you pass all that, maybe then they’ll ask your name.”
For Angelenos like myself, truer words have never been spoken. Let’s be real: when’s the last time someone in the city has asked you one of the above questions before getting your name? And when’s the last time you’ve been guilty of doing so yourself?
It’s a sad, eye-opening truth that we’ve come to accept this kind of superficial interaction as our normal mode of human connection. In fact, it’s hardly “connection” at all, yet someone like me, born and raised in LA, has become all but accustomed to it. It’s not until I step out of the bubble I was born into that I come to realize just how distinct is the place in which I live.
The realization of the truth is, at first, nauseating. It is such because it forces me to admit that I am part of a superficial society, which, by prolonged ignorance of the fact, makes me a contributor of this superficiality by default.
At the same time, there is a sort of bliss in the realization. It proves my occasional dissatisfaction with my Los Angeles counterparts valid, while also providing hope of satisfying human interactions outside of the city I know and love. At the least, it is evidence that something more substantial exists, perhaps not too far from home.
But it’s not until we step outside of our tightly-controlled bubbles that we can realize just what’s out there. That there’s a variety of identities to explore outside of the jaded LA mindset.
Travel is a great way to step out of our bubbles, but you don’t necessarily have to hop on a plane to learn more about the diversity of thought in the world. You can discover new realizations in your own backyard. Indeed, we can pop our cultural bubbles just by talking to people from different backgrounds than us, from different social groups, and so on.
I challenge you to pop your own bubble, today.