Monday Musings: On Cold Sheets, Warm Bodies & “Knowing” People…

I hate cold sheets.

While I pull the bed sort of together in the mornings before work, it’s by no means “made”. My husband and I do that at night, generally when  he’s ready for bed (he normally goes to bed earlier than I do). We straighten the sheets, pull up and straighten the blankets, and then before I leave, I turn on my side of the electric blanket to preheat my side of the bed (the blanket actually has a preheat function – I adore that thing).

On the weekends though, I sometimes forget to hit that preheat button – most often on Saturday nights when I’m getting ready to do my nails for the week. When I finally get into the bedroom around 3 or 4am and realize that the light for my side of the electric blanket isn’t on, I have a serious quandary on my hands: do I hit the preheat button and go read for half an hour, or slide into those freezing cold sheets and wait miserably for the blanket to warm me up?

I’m generally so tired at that point that I end up crawling in…and regretting every second of the decision for the next half hour while I lay there shivering and waiting for the blanket to heat up. No, I’m not mean enough to wake my husband up with my cold self, though the thought has definitely crossed my mind. Every time, I swear that next time I’ll just hit the preheat button and go read for awhile. And every time, I make the same stupid decision to crawl into those cold sheets anyways. Apparently I’ve got a bit of a masochistic streak, eh?

And yes, this is one of the things I hate about traveling too. No heater blanket = cold sheets every freakin’ night. It’s like punishment for being away from home!

In any case, this past weekend I was also pondering warm bodies vs. the sort of “mind melding” we do on social media with people we are unlikely to ever meet in real life. There are two people I “know” that my mind sort of melds into one “character”, if you will. One person I know only through online conversations, and the other I know only in real life. The online friend is like most online friends in that I know how they think, how they reason, how they feel about things, because online, that’s how you connect. I feel close to them because I know what’s going on in their head, even though I may not know their mannerisms or what they look like or even what their real name is. I feel connected because of an intellectual bond that is based solely on our shared philosophies and perspectives.

In contrast, I know a lot of people in real life that I don’t “know” well at all, as far as how they feel about certain subjects, though I generally have some idea of how they think and reason in general (I wouldn’t feel as though I “know” them otherwise). But I feel like I “know” them just as well as those I know online due to the physical connection to them – I’ve been around them long enough to know their voice, their expressions, their mannerisms, their moods just based on body language. It gives me a certain perspective that makes me feel like I know how they think and feel, even though we haven’t shared that sort of “mind meld” that online friendships are built around.

When I was thinking about this, and wondering why my mind automatically melded these two people together into one in my head, I realized that with both of these people I only have half the equation to draw from. I have the “mind meld” with one that allows me to know what’s going on inside without any knowledge of the outside, and with the other, I have all the outward, physical pieces that give me clues to what’s on the inside, but I don’t have enough of a mental connection to know what’s actually going on behind the elaborate window-display, so to speak.

My brain, being the helpful (?) thing it is, for some reason has decided that there are enough apparent similarities between these two people that they might as well make one whole person in my head. It’s an odd thing, because there are just enough apparent contrasts between the two people that it strikes a bit of cognitive dissonance now when I’m interacting with either one of them, especially when one does or says something that the mashed-up character in my head is at odds with.

It’s a weird problem to have. I’ve always thought that getting to know someone online was a better way to get to know the “real person”, because you’re getting to know the inside, and that’s the most important part, right? Now I’m not so sure though – increasingly I’m thinking that you can’t really know someone as a whole unless you have that whole picture of not only what they’re thinking/feeling, but the body language and physical/visual connection that goes with it.

Am I saying that appearance matters, then? Yes, I think I am. Not so much in an attractive vs. unattractive way, but more in an eye contact, expressions, mannerisms and just “movement” sort of way. I’m starting to think that unless we know both the the inside and outside of a person, we can’t truly ever know them as a “whole self”, because it all works together to make us who we are. What we look like even changes how we act sometimes – how we do our hair, whether we wear makeup or not, how we choose to dress, etc. And I think one could make the argument that it can change who we are inside, even if just a temporary change.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the partial relationships we develop online and off are going to be the majority in life, and there’s nothing really wrong with that. We can’t possibly get to know everyone we meet on that “complete” inside/outside as a whole level. I just think we get sort of deluded into thinking we “know” people online on a level that we really can’t, because we aren’t around them physically to pick up on the body language that rounds out the experience of who they actually are as a whole. And I think sometimes we think we know people in real life that we really don’t, because we’re so familiar with their physical presence and we extrapolate deeper meaning from that filtered through our own perspective.

The moral of the “story”, then? I don’t know if there really is one, aside from being cautious not to assume we know people online or off better than we actually do. Because odds are good we don’t have the whole story either way, except for those rare individuals that we connect with and really get to “know” on both the physical and mental levels.

Deep thoughts for a holiday Monday, eh?  And they all started with me thinking about cold sheets. The mind is a fascinating place…


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One comment on “Monday Musings: On Cold Sheets, Warm Bodies & “Knowing” People…

  1. Ardee Eichelmann

    Jamie, I loved your post. I have found all too often that we know just as little about people we know in real life as we do about people online. I have met people in person who I had first met online and they are “what you see is what you get” kind of people. Others are absolutely not who they fashioned themselves to be. Con artists(of the ‘trust bandit’ variety) abound online. That being said there are just as many people who will lie in your face and abuse your trust in them in real life too.

    The good thing is that the “good guys” seem to outnumber “the bad guys” at least in my experience both in r/l and online. That makes me happy.

    I have also “merged” people online with people I “know” offline. I expect them to look, act or talk like someone I know and I am surprised when they don’t. I think a lot of people do that. Or maybe it is just you and me who are mind melding or whatever.

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann who kind of likes cold sheets but then I don’t live where it gets really, really cold. 😉