Simon Fowler's Blog

rLiving Day 21: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Multiplexity and Commonality)

Posted by Simon on May 22, 2010

Embarrassed, I turned off my new Verizon HTC Eris droid phone. I’d just checked work email, personal email, and twitter and facebook. Again.

It was 8pm this evening, C~ and M~ were watching a view Mary Poppins songs on YouTube, so I figured, “ah, they’re watching Mary Poppins, I’ll check my email”. But then I turned and saw M~ and C singing along and just felt embarrassed and, well, just wrong. Sure I don’t have to watch it every time with them, but unless I’ve got a good reason not to, why not? And I’d hardly seen them all week. This was one of those moments just to hang with them, watch it with them, listen to them singing, sing along with them.

Relational Proximity Dimension #3 is “Multiplexity”. My relationship with someone is better and healthier if I interact with them in two or three different contexts than if we only interact in one. This is, essentially, about my knowledge of the other person.

Relational Proximity Dimension #5 is Purpose/Commonality: Our sense of connectedness and relationship is greater to the degree we have things in common or share a common purpose, identity or experience. A good relationship has a direction to it, something that is common between the members that holds it together.

Earlier in the week I commuted with C~ to her preschool. I also went swimming with her, and with M~. We had breakfast together. I hung her upside down. M~ and C~ sat on my feet like slippers as I walked around. I yelled at C~ for being rude. She yelled at me for saying no. We chatted outside with the neighbors. And finally tonight, C~ also made did some paint and glitter work on a shell.

Don’t interpret that list as any sign that I’m a great or poor parent. It’s just what happened this week.

But it’s the ‘multiplexity’ of it that makes my relationship with her more significant. All those things contribute (for good or for ill) to our knowledge of each other. Interestingly, despite me saying yesterday that ‘purpose/commonality’ was primary, it’s all these multiple shared experiences that creates a ‘commonality’ between us. We get to know each other, and we become close through the bond of common experience. Which is why (among other reasons) it was such a poor decision to check email. Instead, another mysterious bond of being a family would have been sealed by watching Mary Poppins again with them, just sitting down with them to hear them sing along, and then sing with them.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not complicated. You just have to do more different stuff together. And do it more often. A greater ‘bond’ has no choice but to come, without you even trying, because you’ll know more about each other and you’ll have more shared experience, a greater sense of the past (#2, continuity) and if you’re conscious about planning more things, a greater anticipation of the future (#2, continuity). This also applies to groups. organizations, even countries.

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