The Fallacy of Individualism


The Fallacy of Individualism

Christine Ruffolo


‘Different’ has always implied some sort of separation.  You are there I am here, you have your ideas I have mine.  Though existing divorced from shared experience, when something as major as COVID upheaves us all, we can feel the collective angst and impatience.  Universal despair brings with it a consciousness of disparity, but this time we have feeds showing us how right we are.  It has never been easier not to look, and yet, we fill our idle time with more frequent, seeking looking.



Being in isolation is either an act punishment or industrialism.  In America, we often act like it’s both.  We confuse the freedom to make good decisions with the right to do whatever we want, regardless of how it effects others.  It’s loudest and getting louder on both ends, as the observing middle picks a side so they can be seen, heard, and participate.



Constantly seeing lunacy eventually numbs you into accepting it as a way of being.


The health and wellness industry has been especially predatory.  Fitness, as we know it, must go onWe will become unhealthy if we don’t.  Those who have built their lives on discipline and control don’t adapt well.  Fear takes action.  Acceptance prohibits it.



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Oh Florida.

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Note the leverage of privilege in the posts above.  The skin color of the ‘defiants’.  As if a gym membership is a precursor to health or fitness.  As if whiteness comes with the expectation that the world will tolerate you more.


With all this happening on the outside, the inside of my home is relatively the same.  It is quiet.  There is no sign of distress or disarray.  I am good at keeping the chaos at bay.  And yet, for perhaps the first time, I recognize that I can sit here and write, and not worry, because of what other people do and have done.  The taxes paid and secured so I have a stable salary;  the truckers and farmers and field workers and grocery clerks and delivery systems so I can eat and be supplied; the artists that make movies and shows and music so I can be entertained.  I always have, and will continue to marvel that someone stops by once a week to take my trash away.


The only way I could do what I do is because of my reliance on others.


Such a strangely harsh pill to swallow for someone who so proudly and profoundly considered herself an individual.  Independent.  Self-sufficient.  Studier of the self.  Perhaps an even truer reality is that I’m actually a narcissist:

[He] referred to here is Erich Fromm, from the marvelous brainpickings. I think what I aspire to most is to do for movement what Maria Popova has done for literature.


Silently, just below my subconscious, I have been studying ‘how to be good’ for 40-years.  I note and absorb what is likable and what is lacking.  Convinced that the answers are already inside of us, I preach to look within.  The confidence I hope to assert is not “I am right”, but “I can be right.” My ego is protective, and offers me an infinite path of possibilities.  Self-love is self-centered is self-involved and self-interested.   It is jarring to find that selfishness is selfishness, no matter how you consistently try to redefine it.

Purposely ‘following’ very few people does not make me uninfluenced; it makes those I align with more influential.  And when I look at them I look at the hundreds of people they have absorbed their ideas and techniques from.  We are a product of the world we live in and the world that came before.  The spheres that we see are only a fraction of the spheres that exist, and yet everyone of them is very real and interchangeable.

I am living as me and looking for me, but I grow the most from exchanging with those that are not like me.  The ones doing other things in other ways.  I’ve said before that in order to care a lot about a few things, I have to not care about a lot of things.  But as my window to the world expands, so does my interest in it.  I try to not be immediately dismissive to the things I consume that give me a visceral reaction, but rather attempt understand where that person or group is coming from, why they might act that way, and what our encounter might be like if we ever crossed paths.

It is strange for someone who lives in their own world and in many ways is a creator of worlds, to use this great pause to fully consider the larger world in which they exist.  The dance between brilliance and ignorance, when given equal footing and shown side by side, makes it abundantly clear that cutting off one truth in order to recognize the other is why there is such stark contrast and conflict.  We must make the effort to take in it all to really be objective about things.

It is not enough to connect to the fringes of where you reside.  The red string must be boundless, and intersect as much with polar opposites as it does with like-minded colleagues. The more you are exposed (to), the more you come to recognize what your shortcomings are.  As a hopeful stitcher of things, you have to find ways to get both to and through all types of fabric.  The vast textures of these textiles might once and for all show us we are and want the same.



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