The motorcyclist in front of me rode what appeared to be an efficient street bike, and the rider at the stop sign to the left rode what is sometimes known as a crotch rocket. The former gave a bit of a wave to connect to a fellow rider and the latter ignored him, or at least did not respond in kind with the upward flip of the hand that indicated greeting to a kindred spirit. It got me to thinking about how people work so hard to find groups of similar types as themselves, and then try to connect with gestures, signs and signals.
Wardrobe choices, hand signals and subtle lifts of the head are but a few of the ways that some try to show connection to others. Even within those categories of communication, there are subsets of distinctions. Not only the type of clothes, but the color, too; not just the hand signal, but how it is delivered and when; not just the head movement, but the facial expression that accompanies it, and so on. It seems that everyone wants to be different… and then be part a group that is similarly different. We connect by affiliations, memberships and many other ways to find and be part of like-minded types.
I understand people’s desire to each be the “different drummer,” and not be part of conformity, but the fracturing also denies what we do have in common and the need (and the value) of community. Sense of community and avoidance of conformity are not mutually exclusive. We can make connection without surrendering our individuality.
Of course, since we are all human, maybe we could just smile at each other and be done with it.