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May 05, 2011


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I started to tell you that's a very European worry, but it's not. When I lived in the south, I noticed that we had to know who we were - when two people meet, they go through this series of questions to establish how they know each other. It could be that they're distantly related, or that they know people in common from high school, or that they worked at the same large company, or just that they know people who might have known each other. But you keep asking, worrying at the other person while he worries at you, trying to figure out how you know each other. Doesn't matter how tenuous the connection is, you've still got to find it.

Moving away from the south was very strange. I felt adrift for years - none of these people knew me or my family or any of my connections. Eventually I just quit caring, and I'd almost forgotten about it til now. :)

White Horse Pilgrim

Eastern Europe was like how you describe the south. That aspect was both interesting and reassuring in a kind of 'no man is an island' sort of way. Somewhere there was always some kind of connection, and finding it did give satisfaction.

Here people move about a lot, don't necessarily socialise much, therefore can feel quite isolated. One can feel quite adrift. It does make the few real friendships seem especially valuable.

Thinking about this, perhaps that lack of connection really has brought about a loss of identity. Therefore disconnected people travel seeking connection, identity and therefore 'meaning'. The British have become prolific users of budget airlines as they travel to discover whatever they search for.

People I've met who moved to those 'connected' societies do seem almost universally happy. I think that I can understand why.

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