The idea of being a sociable person
is nowadays heavily associated with finding enjoyment in going to,
and in all likelihood also in giving, parties.
To be sociable means welcoming the idea
of being in a room replete with an above-average number of other guests,
many of whom will be unknown,
most of whom will be holding a glass of alcohol, bantering,
with lights lower than they normally would be,
and music somewhat higher than required
in order faithfully to catch the details of another’s voice.
Parties have become synonymous with sociability
because of certain underlying ideas about
what true social connection might require and entail.
We assume that sociability naturally springs up
when lots of people are put together in a room,
that it means speaking a lot and notably cheerfully
about things that have been happening in our lives,
that it depends on a jokey manner
and ideally on the possession of a few entertaining anecdotes,
often involving striking coincidences.
But such assumptions sidestep two sizeable objections.
Firstly, true sociability that is
is a real connection between two people
is almost never built up via anything cheerful.
It is the result of making ourselves vulnerable before another person,
表现自己的脆弱 迷失 疑惑
by revealing something that is broken, lost, confused,
lonely and in pain within us.
We build genuine connections when we dare to exchange thoughts
that might leave us open to humiliation and judgement;
we make real friends
through sharing in an uncensored and frank way
a little of the agony and confusion of being alive.
Secondly, true sociability requires a context.
We are generally under such pressure
to appear normal, self-possessed and solid,
we are understandably uninclined spontaneously to disclose our true selves.
Our default mode is without anything sinister being meant by this
to lie about who we are
and what is really going on in our lives.
This suggests that a genuinely social occasion
might be rather different from what we typically envisage.
We think of a ‘ good host ’
as someone who makes sure there is enough wine and,
at a pinch, ensures people know each other’s names.
But in the profound sense, a good host
is someone who creates the conditions
in which strangers can start to feel safe
about being sad and desperate together.
Unfortunately, the modern world seems particularly resistant
to anything that seems artificial around parties, which threatens to evoke
that most dreaded of all social genres: the corporate get together.
The thought is simply to pack a room
and leave the rest to nature.
But a commitment to deep sociability might lead us to recognise
that we do depend on a little artful choreography
to get us into the psychological zone in which connections can unfold.
We might need encouragement, and even a helpful lanyard
to share a little of what is sad within us.
We need help in networking,
not in order to find new investment opportunities,
而是去分享后悔 耻辱 和绝望的感受
but so as to identify shared regrets, humiliations and feelings of despair.
Parties, as they are currently structured,
constitute a clever ruse by a sharp minority,
perhaps only ten percent of humanity
to persuade the rest of us that we have been provided
with the social contact we crave.
But, in truth, it takes a sharply insular and misanthropic person
to feel that what goes on in an average party
really counts as anything like the requisite encounter
with one’s fellow human animal.
If we have a lingering horror of parties,
we should be generous towards our hunches.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t like other people,
rather that we have too ambitious a conception of social contact
to put up with what is on offer at most parties.
The mark of a truly sociable person might,
in many situations,
simply be a strong desire to stay at home.
If you’re interested
in comming to San Francisco to meet us at the end of March,
please click on the link on the screen now, to find out more.
We hope to see you there.