Waves

I am not really a car person.  Even so, whenever I get a new car (and I mean new to me – I have never owned a truly new car) I am suddenly much more aware of other cars like mine – I see them all the time.

Do we have an instinctual thirst for self-recognition in others?  That thirst may be the  flip side of another tendency, to generalize about human nature from our selves.  I am sure I am not the only person to be prone to that, and of course I am indulging in it right now.

So all of a sudden, I have begun to notice flagging or lapsing blogs.  These are from among the blogs which drew me in to the game.  Now those people are hanging up their boots (or gloves – whatever, it’s a metaphor) and moving on.  This could be because my own energy for blogging is waning. 

For a while I wondered if this was an indicator of a trend: could blogging be past its peak?  I doubt that: even on a surging tide, some waves recede, and it’s my own little ripple that I’m responding to.

Of course, many social institutions encounter waves of people.  Some people stay longer than others, as, for example, teachers at schools (and universities) who remain whilst (possibly) knowledge-hungry generations tread them down.  There is a constant churning of people: to take another example, law firms recruit large numbers of young lawyers, but they know that, inevitably, many of those people will leave the profession or move on to other firms: there wouldn’t actually be room for them all in the business model even if they wanted to stay.

Viewed from the perspective of the institution then, waves of people pass through.  From the perspective of the people who pass through, their encounters with such institutions are phases of their lives.

All of this probably seems trivially true, but I think it is sometimes overlooked.  One example which comes particularly to mind for me is the concept of the gay community and the gay “scene.”  This has an institutional locus in the various commercial enterprises which in turn provide the advertising revenue to support the gay press, including, I suppose now, internet equivalents.  The gay scene (let’s simplify this, in Sydney terms, to “Oxford St”) provides gay men with a means of meeting like others (now supplemented by the internet) and finding a (comparatively) hospitable social space. 

For many gay men, “coming out” (or at least, self-recognition of their gayness) is followed by an Oxford St phase.  As they get older, settle down, acquire work commitments and (probably most important, given the meat-market function of bars and other venues) enter into relationships, the phase passes.  My own Oxford St phase passed long ago.  D, who still likes to go there sometimes, also tells me that his original cohort has largely passed on.  We are now (and I am, more than D) “suburban gays.”

In some respects “phases” are a trick of perspective.  We do lots of things in our lives.  We don’t continue doing all of them, for various reasons.  I still have the chess set from my childhood chess phase, and the stamp albums from my stamp-collecting phase: neither of these proved to be a lifelong preoccupation.  Before it slips into the ether or is erased from WordPress’s hard-disk, will this blog become such a relic?  Almost certainly, though maybe not just yet. 

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