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Friday, February 25, 2022

Shared information and Shared experience

 Starting at about the middle of the 20th century, there was so much migration of people from villages to towns in all countries and from one country to another, that the experience of families being together in good times and bad faded into history. In my own situation, I was not there in India when my father and then my mother died. I was not there for many marriages in my family either. Without sharing the joyful moments and sad moments how can we truly be connected?

Of course, in this era of information technology and social media, we share information about events. Now, we can see each other in virtual space. But it is not the same. When my son-in-law was in the hospital for a major surgery in another country, I could not be with my daughter to hold her hands when she was waiting for more than 12 hours all alone. When I had my heart attack last year, no one was there with me during the entire admission. During the first five years of my life in US, I did not even have phone communication with anyone in my family, even when I was in the hospital once. I did not even write to them afterwards, because I did not find any meaning in causing them worry. We can manage – and we all do. But…………

I realize that shared experience is different from shared information. Text messaging shares information. But cannot share the emotional content of shared experience. Text messaging can share contact. But it requires a shared experience to create bonding and relationships. I knew that when I decided to move to US several decades back. Yet, it hurts.

This is also the point Dr. Tatum makes in her book on “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?”  One feels most comfortable in the company of others who have had the same life experiences and bonds with them. We have even portions of the brain and hormones assigned for this social function. That is the basis of family groups and clans.  

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