WE CARRY OUT isolated existences. I don't mean this in a bleak way; it's a self-imposed isolation. Just as television has splintered and become specialized, so too has your social existence. You may only know your neighbors through their WiFi network names (WUDDUP SUGARFOOT, PIMPINPALACE, AND SEXYROUTEROFSEX—yes I live in an apartment owned by Three 6 Mafia), and some of your most copacetic friends may exist to you primarily on Twitter. Such is life. It's not necessarily a bad thing—it saves you from having to become friends with the Wades and Seths of the world and allows you to focus on people who actively bring you the most joy. But if you Galapagos your social life, you're going to end up with a weird, long neck (or at a steampunk convention).
I'm not saying you should go meet a bunch of Seths so you don't end up wearing a top hat with goggles on it, but at least be a tourist in the other shards of our shattered common existence. If you live in Portland, it's easy to do, because in Portland we have the motherfucking bus. You might be reading this on the bus right now. I might be sitting next to you, trying to make the same face as the drawing of me so you recognize me. Put the paper down, look around you, and take in the world. There is no better place in Portland to experience the full ROYGBIV of our city than on TriMet (with the exception of moms from Lake Oswego, who are just visiting to shop at Hanna Andersson. Y'ALL AIN'T IN MY SPECTRUM).
If you're feeling disconnected from the world, leave your headphones at home and ride the fucking bus. You will experience the beautiful ache of humanity and the maddening pits of institutional despair, maybe on the same trip. A month ago I almost got punched right in the mouth by some full-on bonkers street dude, and I know that's not a sensitive thing to call somebody who's been dealt a tough hand, but he tried to use that hand to bust my face open, fuck yo' truce. He was as bonkers as an anthropomorphic crime-solving bobcat. Was it a positive experience? No. But it was an experience! I was never confronted by a startlingly ripped mentally ill day-ruiner when I was pushing the Dodge Stratus. It sucked at the time, but I had something to talk about with people for a whole week. It allowed me to keep not watching Breaking Bad.
You'll also see the other side of humanity on the bus. Last night I sat and watched two complete strangers have a warm, cordial conversation just because they happened to be occupying the same space at the same time, and that doesn't seem remarkable except that one of them was that sort of sad, lonely old man that seems to exist only so present-day Nick Nolte has a context. You could feel the loneliness and desperation in his voice, and you could feel it fade as the conversation unfolded, never touching on anything more serious than the sort of lackadaisical ephemera that occupies the fluorescent bummerdom of every office that has ever existed—except here it mattered, because it wasn't important if these two strangers were tut-tutting the weather or lamenting the price of something inaccurately priced, it wasn't the absence of meaning that was important—it was the absence of isolation. Ride the bus. @IanKarmel