The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

To share, or not to share

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.” – George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (1946)

He was hesitating, fumbling around, unsure how much he should share. Until he decided to share the details of the story. In this case, he was hesitating as sharing the details felt to him like divulging a family secret.

Reflecting on it, it had probably already become common knowledge in his surroundings. But family secrets have a different value when a member of the family shares them. It is as if he had been disloyal to his kin.

He was trying to protect his family but assumed that without sharing the details I would not be able to make sense of his story. He was also trying to find the right path within our relationship. He knew that with all the details he had already described, stopping short of finishing the story would make clear that he hesitated to trust me.

He still could have avoided sharing the details, but then, he would have had to use vague language or explain himself by moving into an abstract description of the situation.

A day is filled with a multitude of decisions of how to describe events and what to share about them. These decisions result from the individual’s ability to share.

Maybe it’s because he was talking about politics George Orwell that described this situation with insincerity. But maybe it’s also simply because he described the situation from a different perspective.

Vulnerability is about our willingness to be open and trust others. Whereas insincerity is a description of the impact and perception a lack of vulnerability can bring.

Both are true. It isn’t either or.

However, there is another relevant component. It’s the mutual interest and the willingness to ask for more details to understand what is being shared. Sometimes, it is also the ability to describe things as they are and in such a way that the other person understands it that is missing. And just as often, it is the ability to realize what one is not understanding and questioning it, that is missing.

Insincerity and vulnerability are present on both sides of the relationship. They can be found in the desire to be understood just as much as in the desire to understand.



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