(Epistemic Status: Making up my own jargon is ok, right? Speculative)
In certain situations, I find myself thinking about the lives of others, or what I imagine the lives of others to be. The conservative Christian, the pick up artist, the blind woman, the person from another country, the family with children…so many, many things I’m not, and some things I will never be. A sense of loss overwhelms me sometimes when this happens. I’ve decided to term this feeling qualialgia.
I don’t know if other people experience qualialgia but as I have recently been trying to maximize my novel experiences, be mindful of the experiences I am having, record things that stand out to me when they happen, and generally trying to optimize for consciousness. The side effect of this is I’m starting to see the other side of the coin, the opportunity cost of every experience I have, every choice I make. How the choices I have made have made me into a person who can’t have certain other experiences. When I see someone or am in a situation where I am brought in contact with the idea of these experiences, qualialgia sets in. It tends to cause a fascination with the sorts of people I would never want to be, a desire to know how they got there, and an awkward sense that even if I asked them (somehow, I’m usually too scared to), I wouldn’t understand because I haven’t felt it.
This is a short essay, but leads to a lot of questions. Does anyone feel qualialgia? If you do, how does it feel? Loss is the predominant sense it evokes. If you don’t, how do you relate to the experiences of those very different from you? Do you consider them at all? If you do, how do they interact with your self model?