Have you ever wondered what the sound of hundreds, no thousands of blogs on depression and mental health is like? I was looking over these sites at one of the blog-rating communities the other day and was struck by the differing tones of so many voices. They were sampled in clipped excerpts and thumbnail images which I could quickly scan in page after endless page. Although they differed in many ways, all were calling out in a chorus of pain.
Some recounted the daily accumulation of misery, some seized on signs of hope that they had at last turned a corner because of the latest medication or alternative treatment, some campaigned for the cure that had worked for them or shouted out against the treatments that had nearly killed them. So much hurt, so much determination flipped before my eyes in deceptive ease.
I thought of the opening scene of the movie, Contact– based on Carl Sagan’s book. It begins with swift camera sweeps across ordinary life, people gossiping into phones, radios crackling the news, families arguing, couples pouring out earnest wordstreams while passing in the street.
Then the camera starts to pull away from eye level, to ascending aerial views in which the voices and broadcast sounds begin to merge into an indistinguishable mix. Finally, as the view orbits us into space and gives us a look at the entire globe, we hear all those voices as one signal broadcast into the universe.
I thought of the thousands of blogs of anguish and the surging efforts to find relief projecting their own part of that signal from the soul-depths of millions whose lives are represented in these communities of written, muted screams. Is that a sound of purgatory, hell close behind, the promise of paradise off in a spiritual vastness we are trying to reach with this sharp chorus? Or is it a sound of hope, a hard-edged song of all trying to exorcise the most powerful demons they will ever know?
It was overwhelming but also in a strange way comforting to be one whisper in that huge, surging flow of sound.
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