Desperately Seeking Simpatico

I like words. I even used to have a blog with the title, Words Matter. Yes, they do.

One of the many benefits to being a reader is that unless you are reading material aimed at second graders, you are apt to find unfamiliar words that stretch and if you take the time to look them up—build your vocabulary. I know—having a robust vocabulary puts me back in the 1950s when we still had a middlebrow culture—rather than the dumbed-down, brain-addled one here in the second decade of the 21st century.

Can you spell as well as a 14-year-old? (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Can you spell as well as a 14-year-old? (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

I’m halfway through my second book of 2016. It’s a book about the collapse of Detroit City. On page 62, there is the following sentence, about midway down the page:

In the same way that the microsocieties formed at Zuccotti Park and other Occupy encampments in 2011 provided, for the simpatico, an exhilarating glimpse of freedom, postindustrial Detroit could be an unintentional experiment in stateless living, allowing for the devolution of power to the grass roots.
Mark Binelli, Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis

It’s an excellent book. Binelli is a terrific writer. I’ll be returning to Detroit and the book and likely review it. But I want to pull one word out of that sentence, the word being “simpatico.”

Simpatico is an adjective, another category of words I adore. It means, “congenial or like-minded; likeable: I find our neighbor simpatico in every respect.

People want simpatico—maybe they even crave it? It’s why we associate with people that see the world like us, enjoy some of the same hobbies; the same music; the same books, etc.

Simpatico is what we’re often participating in on Facebook—at least most of the time—when we think we are riding in the “first class” section when it comes to our version of “the truth,” and that the “other side” might have a screw lose, or something worse.

Keep that in mind when you’re strutting your political opinions (or waxing philosophical on some other subject). Some of your “friends” are like-minded; the rest of us think you’ve taken leave of your senses.

That’s not to say that you aren’t entitled to your opinion. It’s just that if your purpose in using social media is sociability, it’s possible that your posturing is having the opposite effect.