Blowing Bubbles

Here’s a series of convoluted thoughts for you: commentary about Seattle weather led me to thinking about how social bubbles are so, so easy to fall into.

The weather for the past week has been gray and overcast when it isn’t raining. Not hard, nor intense, but it’s definitely wet out there. And yesterday, on an errands-and-shopping outing with my girlfriend, I heard another girl exclaim to her companion, “this is just so Seattle!”

But to me, in my perception, Seattle isn’t nearly as rainy or gray as it gets portrayed. It does have a lot of overcast days, but it’s not all the time. It’s not eternal, like some stories would have you believe. (In fact, as I’m writing this post, the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and everything is beautiful and golden outside my window.) So I boggled a little at the idea that someone would think that.

And that puts me in a minority, I think: my own little bubble, floating along until it bumps up against another. It’s not a bubble I consciously put myself in, but here I am, as easy as breathing.

This isn’t really a new or groundbreaking statement, but it’s one that I periodically find myself reminded of all over the place. The internet especially makes things a lot tighter and a lot looser; you find people all over the world who share your opinions to form an echo chamber, or else you find yourself smacked in the face by dissenting voices when you expected to find a neutral opinion, if not outright agreement. Of course politically this is a big thing in the United States right now, but even on the everyday mundane level, I’ve run into this a lot.

And it does make sense on that social level, too. You find likeminded people through a shared interest and you stick to them. Some people trickle out, but others flow in, and a bubble grows as you share similar opinions and find new media to consume together. At this point in my online life, I think Meredith is the person I’ve known the longest — we’re talking almost 20 years at this point. (Wow.)

You get to know people, and they get to know you, and a community grows around familiar opinions and thoughts. And like any community, outliers exist, but those get ignored, reconciled, or else they move on. Sometimes your bubble bumps up against a different one, and there’s a clash. You’re reminded that even though “everyone” you know has similar (or at least compatible) opinions to you, the world is much, much larger than what you’re accustomed to.

Sometimes this makes a community difficult to break into. If only social bubbles were as easy to break into as real bubbles!

I’ve definitely run into that trouble. And certainly a lot of the blame is on me, because I am often shy and awkward. It’s easy for me to say my pieces in my own space, like this blog, or on plurk, which is my personal social media network. In areas where I am trying to cultivate connections with new communities (like Twitter, which I have been exceedingly bad at keeping up with), I end up stumbling and faltering.

And I think part of that is intersectionality coming to play: obviously, a lot of people who write and read(/consume) queer media are interested and concerned with queer issues. That is 1000% legit and I don’t mean to imply that this shouldn’t be important. But for me, who identifies more with my heritage (Korean-American) and my favorite activities (writing and crafts), and then as being bisexual — as someone who gets more excited to see a Korean person in media rather than a queer one (which I should stress, I’m not not excited to see the latter, just more for the former), it’s difficult to figure out a way to connect with the people I would like to get to know.

It’s just easier, ultimately, for me to be able to say, “hey, so, the new episode/chapter of [series], wasn’t it great?” That’s me as a person.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year about being more social outside of my comfort zones and usual circle. I did decide I wanted to be a better friend to the people already within my bubble, because I do think I fell down on that over the course of last year. But maybe, if February isn’t too late to revise these things, I should try to be more open to trying to meet new people, too.

(Though not right away. Small steps first. There’s still a lot of year left.)

Also eyyyy friends, a final last shilling note that I have a new novel coming out at the end of this month! It has dragons and one of my very favorite protagonists I’ve written, so I hope you’ll at check it out! (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧

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