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The Riddle of Distance

September 01, 2019

photo source : pinterest

In terms of geometry, distance is a number that indicates how far the object changes position through a certain path. While the physics formula, distance can be known from time divided by speed. The understanding of geometry and physics that is inherent in our daily lives, at least applied in online transportation applications: distance becomes a multiplier variable at a price per kilometer. I have long thought about the mysterious meaning of distance. Distance is not only about physical perspectives. We are always familiar with the definition of distance physically. This limitation finally makes us stutter in interpreting many things about distance.

Physical distance becomes relative and is directly proportional to density (density: the ratio between the width of the road surface and the volume of objects-humans and vehicles). Increasingly dense, bush feels far away, and vice versa. The distance to understand a village may feel close, because its density is low. While the distance between the UKI Busway Stop and the actual BKN is not up to 500 meters, it could be further away due to traffic effects: high density.

My stuttering about distance started when I realized I was involved in a group of people: engaging in their uproar and laughter. But at the same time I feel very distant from them, how is this possible? While physically, we are in a group at the same table. In this condition, understanding the geographical distance is certainly a failure. The feeling of being alone in a crowded world covered me. Like being thrown in a world of different dimensions. There is another perceptive distance that cannot be answered with a geometric perspective of distance. Erich Fromm explains a little about the psychological process why a person still feels lonely even when he is in a crowd, in the book "Escape The Freedom". Maybe the book is also an inspiration for the creator of the song Dewa 19, the snippet of the lyrics: “di dalam keraiaman aku masih merasa sepi, sendiri memikirkan utang kamu..”. But that explanation is only a part of the entire book, and does not answer my question about the riddle of distance.

My stuttering doesn't only apply when I'm in the middle of a group of people, even confronted by one or two people, directly, within a physical distance of only a few centimeters, often makes me feel far from those people. . Even though we communicate directly, it is not diverted to each other's gadget. This kind of strange feeling is rather disturbing me.

I often guess the condition as social distance and psychological distance. The habit of "reading" the interlocutor, from a social background that will certainly affect one's thinking patterns, is sometimes easy to make me create what I call the social distance between me and my interlocutor. The social distance that sometimes makes me feel inferior to others, maybe that's what makes me feel so far away when I'm with one or two people even though we are physically close: distant social inequalities. On the other hand, the same, or similar social background, makes me feel quite close to several people, both when our physical distance is indeed close or far.

Social distance finally creates a feeling of inferiority that is difficult to penetrate with physical distance. Or even though it does not reach the sense of inferiority but social distance has a big enough effect, even almost cannot be tolerated. Maybe many people do not believe, that I have a certain inferior side, hahahha.

My stuttering does not stop at social distance. There is what I call psychological distance, does not make sense and is even more inexplicable. Of course I have psychological ties that default to my family. There are strong blood ties, which cannot be removed with physical distance or with minimal communication. My family type is not the type of family that obeys affirmations, but that doesn't mean we don't have psychological ties. We have every way to show affection and attention, and not by visualizing affirmations. Although for example in some circumstances I also feel psychologically far from my family, but not often, only in abnormal conditions. Of course many people will agree with me about psychological distance in the family. That is something that still makes sense and won't make me stutter.

Then, psychological distance with certain people outside the family, how is the explanation? This is my other stutter. In life, you will definitely find people who are physically and socially distant - even very distant - with you, but there are absurd things that are unexplained that make you feel that you have a very close psychological bond with these people. On the other hand, in your life you might also meet people who are physically and socially close to you, but there are absurd things inexplicable that make you feel psychologically distant from these people. This riddle about psychological distance is the most difficult thing for me to be able to understand. Intense meetings and intense communication with people do not necessarily make us feel close. Conversely, meetings and communication that can only be counted on the fingers - without the help of the toes - can make us feel close to certain people.

I think technology has succeeded in cutting someone's distance from others. Text messages, voice, and facial movements that can be transferred through frequencies in the air. Although communication is not direct; communication comes in the form of a few inches of the screen, but it is quite capable of cutting physical distances. Modern transportation such as fast trains or airplanes can also penetrate densities to make physical distance completely meaningless: making distances no longer directly proportional to the time required. But it seems that many people still feel strangers to the closest people - physically -. For example, a husband and wife who have lived together for years, communicating every day from morning to next morning again, isn't it still potential to become a stranger to each other's partner, right?

Technology has succeeded in cutting someone's physical distance from others, but what kind of technology can make a person not feel alienated in a group of people even if they laugh together? What type of technology can destroy a person's social distance and psychological distance from others? What kind of technology can make someone feel close socially and psychologically to someone who is beside him / her, instead of dreaming of someone else who is far from him? Another person who is not at his side / her side.

Admit it, because being too accustomed to accepting definitions in the physical dimension does make us stuttering in many things. And this stuttering is always annoying.


(November, 2018)

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