Listen In: Go ahead, let your weird side out

Published 8:02 am Sunday, July 31, 2016

A few months ago, I found myself in an interview biting the sides of my tongue to suppress laughter.

In my defense, this moment came when Herald photographer Eric Johnson and I were covering an event after a stressful few weeks. The event we were covering included a lot of downtime where my stressed mind fell idle and went about its own devices. It wandered upon weird — and mildly insightful — realizations I won’t divulge here.

It wasn’t at anyone’s expense (well, for the most part). As my mind unwound, it caught on every weird metaphor and juvenile epiphany hidden in my subconscious. Then I was served a giant metaphor to that absurdity right down the middle of the plate.

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I had to do my best to keep from busting out laughing in front of some prominent, well-intentioned folks.

Don’t worry, I didn’t swing at the fat pitch down the middle. But back at the office, I unloaded the story to Eric, we shared a few laughs, mustered up a semblance of maturity and got back to work. Since, I’ve shared the full story with friends and trusted people only.

This experience got me thinking: Maybe it’s time we embrace the weird. My weird epiphany that almost had me busting up laughing in a serious situation was, admittedly, a bit juvenile, but it revealed something that could actually start an interesting dialogue — that is, if I was brave or brazen enough to disregard any hurt feelings.

That said, I’m keeping my lips sealed … for now.

But I’m still making my case for the weird. Look around. Log onto Facebook and try arguing against the absurdity of our technology-fueled, heavily-connected world.

Let me start with Exhibit A: the 2016 presidential election. Seriously, could we have come up with two weirder candidates? However, the two strangely embody the absurdity of today’s world to perfection. Think about the scandals both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have endured and ask yourself a simple question: Would I keep my job and weather the storm if I’d done/said those things? And here they are the top.

I looked at the Associated Press wire this week and found three of top stories embodying our modern weirdness: 1. Actress Susan Sarandon said she needs to be convinced to support Clinton (I’m eagerly awaiting her decision before casting a vote this November — yes, that’s sarcasm), 2. comedian Sarah Silverman called on Bernie Sanders supporters to support Clinton, and 3. Trump complained in a speech about the air-conditioning in a hotel.

I highly doubt Walter Cronkite ever reported three such stories in the same newscast.

Oh, and the next day, I woke up to a CNN headline about a mother beating her daughter and posting the video to Facebook. Then, MPR had a headline of “‘Crying Robin Hood’ is a Minnesota hero.”

Here is what I think is happening: Our personal space is disappearing. All of our weird is getting churned up and thrown into public view.

Do you have friends who you know stuff about most people shouldn’t or don’t know about someone? You know, think of those friends you can tell off-color jokes to and trust they’ll still think you’re a good person. Or think of those friends you do something with and leave thinking, “Wait, is it weird I know this about him or her? Is this normal?”

Spoiler alert: It’s weird, but it’s also just life.

The problem is becoming that, thanks to social media, we now know these things about almost everyone; however, we usually lack the friendship and true connectedness that should come with such realizations. Our filters are being stripped away and replaced with public platforms at our fingertips.

So all we can do is try to be connected in such a way and truly embrace the weirdness of what’s happening around us.

What is it that J.R.R. Tolkein said? “Not all who wander are lost.” True, but we’re almost certainly weird.