Orienteering is the ‘crossing of unknown land with the aid of a map and a compass’. I wonder how popular the actual sport of orienteering is these days? My only knowledge of it comes from my time as a high school teacher, watching students stress at not finding their way during the exam and finding themselves lost in more ways than one.
Humans have an unassailable need for direction. We developed time, latitude and longitude to help us make sense of the world, and then instruments to measure them so we know WHEN AND WHERE WE ARE at all times.
It would seem that navigating (or orienteering) the social aspect of our lives is not too different.
Commonly, we like to know what other people are doing. Admittedly, there are a minority of us who are immune to the influence of social pressure. Oh to be that secure and peaceful. But, most of us look to our friends and family, neighbours and work colleagues, and possibly people we don’t know, but hold in high regard – scientists, religious leaders, sports people, writers, business leaders……. or Kim Kardashian (if you get my drift). Caring about what others do is hard-wired into most of us.
It wasn’t until I delved into the world of sleeping (the separate variety being my most favoured) that I realised how much was written about people’s sleep behaviours, and HOW MUCH interest there is in the topic.
But why do we want to know what others are doing? Social theorists speak at length of the human need to normalise against others with whom we either have, or want to have, a connection with. Or simply, it’s because we need a social map and compass. It’s all tied up in belongingness (try saying that quickly 10 times) and is the flip side of being rejected.
This is why we have an unstoppable interest (on a sliding scale) in hearing about other people and what they do. We’re interested to know we are like others – “tick for me, I’m doing it right”. And we are equally interested in the strange things other people do – read “OMG, I would never do that” – which makes you feel socially smug, or socially jealous.
So when Baz Luhrmann ‘outed’ himself and wife Catherine as separate sleepers, there was a cyber-hullaballoo about the revelation.
To be honest – I was thrilled. I immediately felt a wave of pride that such cool people were just like me – or maybe, it was because I was just like such cool people? I would have to speak to Baz directly to confirm the flow of pride.
Reality is – we want to be wanted.
The level of the ‘wanting’ to be wanted differs between each of us, and ebbs and flows within us. But….. in the big bad ‘unknown land’ that is each of our lives, checking out both the neighbours and the competition can be the map and compass we need – whether we like it or not.
Now it’s well past my bed time, and my compass is showing NEbE 50.63° – right down the hallway to my room.