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people put themselves out there only in order

that they can meet someone to go back in with



commentary • 02.05.04

What’s with the term, out there? I suppose like so much else it’s American in origin. I’m interested in what it means. It means you’re available, searching, up for involvement, open to experience and the creative potential of it all. This contrasts with being closed down, finished up, not receptive to fresh encounters - and probably old.

The term out is used a lot generally and has a certain fashionable caché. There’s going out, checking out, being out, freaking out all having different senses. Take going out: aside from its courtship connotations, when you look closer it is invariably used by people who actually mean going in, that is: being in somewhere else other than the place they are. They go from the home or workplace, out to be another place that’s in, like a bar, restaurant or club. They arrive the somewhere else and probably hang with one or two associates or in an exclusive group looking out at others from the safety of that enclosure - checking out.

Same with out there. People put themselves out there only in order that they can meet someone to go in with, probably a relationship or some other kinship defined by its exclusivity. In other words you’re only out to be in and not after all for the genuinely challenging prospect of new experience or connection.

This is really a further adjunct to my remarks on exclusivity. Out there is illusory and misleading. What lies behind out there is its opposite, something less worthy of favour, something that obscures an aspiration bent on exclusion; an environment where individuals define themselves in terms of what they’re not rather than any positive, truly affirming attempt at identity. In there is more apt than out there in describing what actually happens in contemporary social life.