How will my personal experiences inform my topic of study for the final paper of my class? My first thought was immediately, “an introspective question for this assignment…oh joy”. The follow up question might be how much do I dislike introspectively analyzing myself in a public forum? While the answer would simply be, not so much, it might also tie right back into the answer for the first question. My disdain for public self-reflection is likely closely related to being a bit of an introvert (and yes, that is perhaps understated).
My theory is that the nature of being an introvert, and trying to just blend in without making waves or drawing attention, just tends to make introverts extremely good observers of others. After all, in order to blend in with others, one must understand their actions and motivations. So, like Jane Goodall deep in the jungles of Tanzania, we go through life observing, listening, and occasionally interacting with the focus of our studies.
These days, social media enables us to observe the jungle from the secure comfort of our own homes. That capability is amplified every three years as the jungle comes alive with restless chaos in the spin up to the national elections. Following each of the last few election cycles I thought the chaos and vitriol being spewed from the candidates, talking heads, and constituents had surely reached its pinnacle. On the contrary, the decency bar has consistently lowered.
I do not yet know for sure the exact direction my paper will take, however, my growing fascination with current events is making it harder to look away than a rubbernecker at a multicar train wreck. Very little of this election cycle’s stereotypical communication strategies are seeing the light of day. The few that do, seem to lose momentum from their ineffectiveness as fast as they appear. Dr. Goodall can better predict behaviors of wildlife in her jungle than anyone else has in our current political outback. Reflecting further on the assignment question I wondered how other prominent authors’ personal experiences helped shape their voice.
Though sadly not a prolific reader as a child, growing up in Florida, and being enchanted by the whole Key West, Jimmy Buffet Parrot head, Bahamian lifestyle I was of course aware of Ernest Hemmingway. His was a life beset by adventurous experience, but also of challenges and depression. From the suicide of his own father, to the loss of a number of loved ones, and surviving multiple airplane crashes (Ernest, 2012). Each influenced some aspect of his writings during his career.
It comes as little surprise that depression and dark events also helped shape Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Separation from his immediate family at birth, followed by witnessing the rest of his family eventually die all around him (Small, n.d.) helped mold the morbid style for which his work is famed.
Both of these prolific authors led tragic lives. My hope is that the growing antipathy we see reported within our social media platforms and news outlets from and about our politicians does not start giving all of us the same negative outlook and disposition that loomed over Hemingway and Poe. Society may start finding the introvert lifestyle more appealing than they should.