The Art of Asking

by bonnie azoulay in


 Last year I had no friends. That was a pretty stark opening line, I know. What I mean by that is: All my friends were taking a gap year in Israel and I was left alone to sulk and cry my eyes out to my parents. I was juggling many phases in which I self discovered and self-reflected. I even threw in a quite a bit of some self-destructing too. Amid the many independent adventures I went on, (i.e catching up on Breaking Bad and taking myself out to lunch), spending my Saturday nights searching the web the way a You Tube junkie would was the one I was least proud of socially but most proud of in a worldly sense. 

  On one such occasion I discovered the wonderful world of Ted Talks. These informal short clips was where I discovered Rookie Mag's Tavi Gevinson and  journalist Paul Miller who went a year without the internet and lived to tell the tale. It gave me all sorts of motivation and a can- do attitude. "If Tavi started her successful blog at 11, I too can start a blog!" "If Paul Miller went a whole year without using the internet, I too can stop using the internet." Evidently it was only the former statement that won out and came through fruition. Slowing down on social media would have to wait another lifetime. 

   Amanda Palmer was just your average Joe. Except she wasn't, because she was a living statue in a wedding dress somewhere in Manhattan who wordlessly asked thousands of passerbys for their dollars. She was also a musician who crowd surfed and eventually went on to crowd fund her music Kickstarter which became the most successful of its kind raising over 1.2 million dollars to support her new album. In her Ted Talk, The Art of Asking  she says,  “I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. In order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.”

    In the 21st century, in our millennial and "selfishly driven" world we live in, there is so much asking. Crowd funding, a prominent reflection of our generation denotes Palmer's Art of Asking and is a contemporary widely debated topic. Should people ask people for money through the internet? There are fertility Crowdsurfing sites, medical bill sites, business starter sites. Where do we draw the line? 

   Social media has paved the way for The Art of Asking and made it norm core. I remember the time when asking someone where they got their top from was pure sacrilege. Whenever a childhood friend asked me where I got my clothes from I looked at them like they had two heads. Never would I reveal my secrets. I would do anything not to look like everybody else or be a part of a mentally "who wore it better" sentiment if I g-d forbid showed up to a party wearing the same thing as someone else. But now with social media in the mix and serving as the archetype for such questions, you have bloggers sharing their shopping tips and responding to viewers who ask the question no longer considered brazen: "Where did you get that top from?" The same goes with Foodie instagrammers revealing their once unrevealed recipes. 

   A part of me doesn't want to give in to the Asking world we're evolving into. I don't like asking  for help. And I certainly don't like revealing my shopping secrets. A part of me though wants to know where the girl standing on the same subway platform got her boyfriend jeans from. And so I ask. Because "asking" is now trendy. 

"Excuse me, your jeans are really cute." I hesitate. "Do you mind me asking where you got them from?"

"Etsy," She responds with no hint of annoyance in her voice.