The choice between anonymity and relationships
Some of you might know Alan Walker from his first hit single Faded. Or if you’re not in to that type of music, he’s an young EDM artist from Norway who started making a name for himself in 2015. He started off as a gamer. Pretty much your ‘behind the scenes’, introvert kind of guy, making electronic music at home. He uploaded some of this music online and it caught some people’s eyes… or rather, ears.
Having a listen to his first single, Faded, there is a subtle message that comes across. The words that come back most in the song are ‘I’m Faded’, ‘So lost’ and ‘Where are you now’. With the music video following a masked person with a backpack, who looks like he’s searching for a way back home. A home he remembers only through a photo he carries with him. We don’t know why he left, but he now wants to get home and he needs to find his way there. Only to realize, when he finally does arrive, that his home is desolate, empty and abandoned. While he was ‘anonymous’, unknown to his home, he forgot his home, where it is and how to get there. By becoming anonymous, by choosing to forget and be forgotten, he lost his very home.
In another of his famous singles, Alone, he gives space for the deep desire of meaningful connection to emerge. “I know I’m not alone.” But we all know the difference between being with other people and relating with other people – through meaningful relationships. We can be alone in a crowd or in a group. We can be alone at work while surrounded by colleagues, or at uni while surrounded by classmates. Or unfortunately, we can be alone at home, surrounded by family members. If we do not build meaningful relationships.
Alan Walker’s latest single Darkside, surprises me a little. It seems this desire which was given space in the lyrics of some of his past singles was abandoned. Like he’s falling back into anonymity. Hiding in the dark. It speaks about giving up, of letting go and falling into the dark side, where we can hide behind believing lies.
There is a tension between the ‘comfort’ of hiding, anonymously, since it leaves us free of the ‘entanglement’ of relationships, and the desire to enter into relationships, to know others and to be known. This leaves a deep desire famished, the desire for meaningful relationships.
Alan Walker’s fans, or followers, are generally called ‘Walkers, and they identify themselves by wearing a mask over the lower part of their face, and a hoodie. I find it ironic though, that Alan Walker uses a hoodie and mask as a symbol for unity – to show that anybody can be a ‘walker’. Creating unity through anonymity, hiding the individual identities and cancelling out the differences, isn’t really unity but rather uniformity. Rather than valuing our unique differences they are cancelled out. It’s a search for meaning where no meaning can be attributed. Precisely because ‘you’ remain anonymous. We sometimes look for meaning within the security of anonymity. That way, if something goes wrong, like someone gets hurt or a relationship goes sour, we can hide away rather than be held accountable.
Alan Walker recently started a new vlog… an ‘unmasked vlog’. It looks like it’s a re-take on his short documentary series done a year ago. This new vlog might be a publicity thing or some re-branding. Or it could be that Alan Walker, as a person just like you and me, wants to start stepping out of anonymity – even the anonymity of the limelight. Looking for a way to live this desire to search for meaningful relationships, within the reality which he has found himself in. The joy of meaningful relationships, comes from their ‘unknown’. We never know how a relationship it’s going to develop. Whether it’s going to flourish, struggle or wither. But do you want to take the risk for meaningful relationships, or remain hidden in anonymity? Look back and reflect on your past experiences, find out what your habits and temperaments within relationships are. Then ask yourself, do you want to continue along the same path or search for something more?