Language and Connectivity

We purpose language — a technology — to shape ourselves and everything around us.

I often found oral and written communication challenging. I jammed more information than I needed to, and sometimes left out important bits. It was all connected and relevant (in my head) but I couldn't map my thoughts to words that well. I hacked my way through within the boundaries of time and space. That affected my relationship with the world.

I started to learn English when I moved to Ontario. In Montreal, I took French lessons for half a year, but I didn't keep up. When I lived in the Netherlands, I tried to pick up Dutch but wasn't successful. Learning German in Switzerland had a similar result. I figured my enthusiasm to learn a new language wasn't stronger than the persistence it needed. Naturally, not being fluent in the local language shaped my social relations. I didn't completely understand what it did to my connection to society and myself until later.

Being able to verbally communicate with more people is naturally beneficial. I still aim to learn new languages. On the other hand, lack of fluent communication had some useful qualities as well. At the very least, I thought I was able to take advantage of it. In a social setting, once people learn that I am not able to understand them, at some point in the social dance, I unlocked a superpower. The ability to ease in and out of involvement in conversations. The idling time meant that I can cosy up in my bubble, inside a bigger bubble with the other occupants. As dipping in and out of communication was generally socially acceptable (at least in parts of the world that I've lived in), I kept this behaviour. I am able to detach myself from people and attach back as need to, or at will. In my mind, I am able to think about everything and nothing while in people's presence. I value this time because it somehow comforts me when I can get away with it. Ironically, those are also some of the times I can feel connected to humanity, as is. Just being there.