People walking at night

digital sonder

In Tokyo there is a cafe up on Roppongi Hills — Tully’s Coffee — parallel to a busy elevated highway with patio chairs facing the street.

Countless nameless faces walk by.

I used to love sitting there. It provided ample opportunity for people watching.

I’d sit and wonder what their lives are like:

What items do they carry in their briefcase?
What music do they listen to in their headphones?
Do they go home to a warm meal or an empty apartment?

Whether they have secrets. Or dreams. And regrets.

I wonder.

A website exists called ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.’

Poetic enough itself, within this library there is a specific term that calls to me:

Sonder (n.)
The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

This is what I felt up on Roppongi Hills, sipping my coffee, watching these strangers go by.

Now on social media, I feel the same.

And so, like my time at the Roppongi cafe, I wonder about people’s lives.

What is the story of that tattoo? Why that username?

Scrolling past profiles, it fascinates me that behind each username, painstakingly selected bio and picture, is a real human being.

With their own unique perspectives and life experiences. (Most of the time. Talking to you here, bots.)

Except now, because I see what they share on social media, my questions can be more complex:

I wonder what made them who they are today: where they’ve been, and where they are going next.

Why do they share what they share? Why that book? That article? What influences them?

What are their routines? Their ambitions? Their stories? What keeps them up at night?

At the same time, I also wonder what other people wonder about me, too.

1 reply
  1. Chinarut
    Chinarut says:

    hey yina! we miss you in RBC reading room! I was wondering what you are up to 🙂 I love that you are in Tokyo! I have so many fond memories of Japan – a depth of beauty so far beyond the “aesthetic!”I don’t recall if I ever got a chance to thank you for making it to our RBC4 wrapup session -it means a lot to me. I aware you’ve challenged yourself to write in your blog daily and hope that is going well. at some point

    Reply

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