My observation, difficult to verify because it’s so personal to me is that voices, individual unique voices – the only kind there is – want to be heard. Which is to say that we want to be heard. And seen. And that this is a primary want, an underlying “soul need” we share.
But the cookie culture world isn’t set up to make room for your unique voice. Rather great swaths of normative opinion, a lowest common denominator aggregate of how we purportedly think, is what’s called for and passes for truth. The result, and you can decide if it’s true for you, is that individual voices feel unheard, unimportant, or confused as to their right to speak.
This state of affairs passes for normal so that our desire to be heard, to be seen, even to be held in our uniqueness stays hidden in the shadow. It’s an unholy desire. Sexual fantasies and purchasing choices are allowed and encouraged as expressions of individuality but the secret desire of the heart is unmentioned and unconsidered.
That heart’s desire stays underground, a hungry ghost. Feed it on scraps of Facebook likes and let it have its say on talk radio where a world of experience tries to fit onto a micro-stage. Let it engage in a mutual show of opinions with friends who want to be heard too . . . but who want to belong as well and not be seen as going too far.
The essential feature of your voice is that it’s unique. Unique in tonal quality and inflection and deeply expressive of the innermost reaches of you as it’s felt in the moment. Except that the context for how you’re likely to feel yourself in the moment is that a large chunk of Unique Voice is best left unspoken.
Leaving ourselves unspoken is the norm and we are deeply social norm-observing folks. I’m not speaking of Canadians here but of humans: mass culture is social and cooperative, team-based to the core, though I know this isn’t how we describe ourselves. This unconscious collective is a huge part of how the evolutionary motor works. It’s necessary and vital and not bad in any sense.
It’s just not the whole picture. Our unique voices are needed to fill that in.
But at present, giving voice to unique expression – and I’m not talking about opinions or rants but what’s deep in our personal hearts and most important to us – is not part of our culture. Although it’s recognized whenever and wherever it speaks, Unique Voice doesn’t fit the cultural template. It hides, it doesn’t know itself. It’s in the closet.
Is it true that, in a very real way, we’re all in the closet? That we hide great territories of our experience for not knowing how to speak them to others in the game of show and tell we don’t play?
Making room for Unique Voice, which is to say, the expression of ourselves as we are in the moment, is how the we-space of the Commons comes to know itself. Everyone who speaks up strengthens the Commons that we are.