Catastrophic flooding inundating areas in NSW for the second time in a month has prompted me to think further on why I continue to find (my own and more broadly) the human/people/social response to such events socially interesting.
When I have reflected, mostly in passing, on how I have responded & reacted, I have approached this more through a political lens. For example, in terms of a disruotion in and to the everyday implications of relations of capital. How they disrupt work, how we think about work. How we come together as society. The manifest implications of the pandemic are most obvious, with a shift to remote, flexible & other previously not-really-considered-as-viable models. Differently, how people come together, help each other following destructive-disruptive events like fires & floods. Particularly the types we have seen in Australia pre-COVID & now in our not-quite-post-COVID existence.
More specifically, how work as we know & largely accept it is put aside as far less important than we would ‘normally’ see it. Helping others comes a very distant first, & work is almost an afterthought. It is in these moments of disjuncture that I find the world around me socially interesting. As a subset, though not my focus here, how we come to see some forms of work for how unnecessary they are. Even ludicrous.
In not taking away from any of this, emerging from a lot of self reflection — a result of where I have found myself AND mine possible due to the changed existance of living in a pandemic — I have come to see another underlying basis for why find such times socially interesting.
My version, my lived experiences, of not fitting in are rooted in growing up in a working poor family. Living in stigmatised social housing. Looking (a little) different. Being treated differently by peers at a very young age, their families, & my own extended family.
I can see now that my interest in atypical events like natural disasters is rooted in how they foster a break in the status quo. And the status quo for me was not the most pleasant space. These breaks are a time of relief. A suspension of the norms that were generally unpleasant, uncomfortable. it was in these moments of disruption that other possibilities, even fleeting ones, emerged. Possibilities more enjoyable in a microcosmic sense or at least the potential for a more enjoyable space/relations/existence.
As I become more aware of myself (and how my differences are socially judged/placed/manifested), through self reflection & self care, the importance of the latter becoming much more profound in recent mouths, I am starting to see more & different ways in which I see the (social) world & attempt to exist within & outside of it.
This does not mean that I don't see disruptions that disasters afford & arguably force on us as valuable & socially interesting. There is another layer there. One more directly rooted in my own lived experiences. One which also shapes my (perception of the-my) world.