​“Sonder:

The realization that everyone around you has a life outside of yours, complete with their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions.”

There was a time a few years back when I was amazed at the coinage of this word. It is an infant word considering it was coined just 5 years ago in 2012. It was fascinating for me to walk down a road and pass people knowing that they have their own history attached to them, memories, emotions and so much and everything that makes us human. I am just one person and there are almost 8,000,000,000 more people like me, each one of us having our own story to tell. 

That was a fun time for me but I have moved on to other things since then. Slowly I realized that every story that a person has to tell mostly follows the same pattern. 

At 15 or around it, we are overwhelmed with new and intense emotions like love, hate, jealousy, insecurity and so much more. It might be down to my pessimistic outlook but I have observed that it all only goes downhill from there. At around 20, we are troubled with heart break, sadness over loss of a friend or disappointed over our academic achievements. 25 is when we compare ourselves to our friends who are getting married or moving ahead in life and we question whether we are going to end up being left behind. 30 is the time of a dawning of a new life where we are burdened with responsibilities and most of the time after that is spent in mid life crises ad regrets followed by an impending sense of death. I know I am generalizing at this point but this is what the story of most people is, or is likely to be.

I got sort of ‘bored’ of humans so I started learning of the stories of things around me.

Do one thing, look around yourself, what do you see? A chair? Table? Pen? Mobile?

We are surrounded by things and all of these things carry with themselves a story and history of how they developed or were created to be what they are today. Let us take the example of a chair.

History of the Chair

You can see the whole history of the chair from the 6th century to the present. It developed with the needs of people, the science, economics, ergonomics and so much more! 

One example is mostly just not enough for us, so let us take the example of a laptop used solely for writing. Have you ever wondered how a physical tap on a button ends up appearing almost magically on a screen?

 History of the Keyboard

Well turns out it has a whole story of itself. 

Not just things, even the exams and tests that we appear for in our daily lives whether it is semester exams, competitive tests or any kind of test at all. All of these tests have a design and science of their own. A science I feel nice at being able to study in my current course. The difference between an achievement test and an aptitude test, the difference between a criterion based test and a norm based test. All of these things have their own stories which truly fascinate me. 

You should give this a try as well. Look around yourself, pick a thing and try to read more about how that thing came up to be what it currently is. The challenges the designers had to face, the novel solutions they came up with and try and grasp the humongous effort of the human race that must have been needed to get us where we are today. 

I don’t know how I feel about the fact that there is just so much that I will never end up knowing but at least, right now I acknowledge the scale of what I don’t even know or could ever hope to understand. It is somehow both overwhelming and terrifying. Sort of like when you realize how huge this universe is and we are just a floating speck of dust in it, like a drop of water in the ocean realizing how tiny it is and yet it is a part of the ocean, it is the ocean; that is what this realization makes me feel. 

It is sonder, but not of people, of things.