It’s strange when you stop to think about how tenuous so many of our friendships have become. We are connected, those people we know by memory, and those we just know by face, through our social networks and little else. We are connected through the spiderwebs of the digital world, sharing our photos, our videos, and occasionally our thoughts. We started so banal – I LOVE the new record from SoAndSo – to the oversharing – I effing hate my ex, they are a monster, and you should hate them too – to the surface again, where image is everything – HEY, ya’ll, just here chilling by the POOOOOUHL!
We have evolved how we share and how much with the evolution of the mediums.
We are less a narrative culture and more of a TL;DR culture where we want someone to get to the darn point. It makes sense, there’s a lot going on, in our lives, and in the world, and we have become information whales, opening our proverbial mouths, and taking in everything we can in the hopes that there’s something we can use and then what we can’t we just jettison out once more. As vital as social media is for connecting to our friends, to information, and to brands we follow, it’s still about ourselves.
I say this all as someone who has gotten off social media and who misses it.
I miss the connection.
I miss the information.
I miss seeing what people are doing.
There’s a sadness to it though, as if you are a voyeur in lives that you don’t truly connect with, at least that’s how I felt.
I felt like I was watching people I knew live their lives and that was all. I wasn’t a part of those lives beyond watching and an occasional, errant – How’s It Going – message. It wasn’t connection though. In a time when Covid should have reminded us how precious our connections are it was almost like it made some more tenuous.
You see that as you get older.
People pair up and do their own thing.
Social groups change as people come and go.
We all grow the heck up and get families and pets and careers and kids and on and on and there’s just not as much time to hang out.
We change – I for sure know that I wouldn’t have anything to do with the people I hung out with in my early twenties, save for a couple, and I know that is a mutual feeling. We just change. That’s life.
It’s so sad though to see so many of those legacy friendships though become voyeur-ships where you are just watching one another and little else. It’s sad because it should be easier than it is to reconnect, but the dust gets thicker, the connection gets fuzzier, and in the end, you just don’t have anything in common anymore.
You have a history, but some history is meant to be forgotten.
I know that the ending of my social media life isolated me as I don’t really have a lot of close friends, it turns out, so that the ones I had were mostly online, meaning they were not that close to begin with, I guess.
The problem, you see, is me.
It’s me and how I see friendship, which tends to be more rigid than many others.
I forget that friendship needs to evolve sometimes and change and that the history you share still connects you, you are just sort of pen pals at a point. You look in on one another and smile and that’s it.
But I hate that.
I hate that we’ve come to that.
I get that we need wide circles because the only way we will stop hating one another and start saving this world is through empathy and through learning to love one another, even if in the most cursory sense of ‘seeing’ someone and acknowledging them.
Even if it just means you care enough to connect to them in some way at all.
We need that.
I hate though that so many of our friendships BECOME that.
That we are so happy to give up and give in and just let them fizzle and fade without reaching out to tell people we care.
We isolate ourselves and use our family and job and kids as excuses and that’s what they are. Friends, good friends, will make time and better friends will understand that you have other people in your life that matter and that you need to make room for.
But it’s a two-way street and I know I haven’t been that great at keeping at that.
I do give up.
I do withdraw.
I do push away.
I always have.
I have to force myself to reach out and to connect.
I fear I have reached an age, a point in my life where it’s just easier to fold my arms and to keep my own counsel.
It hurts less.
There’s less rejection.
And it’s lonely, but in the end, it feels like we’re always alone.
And that sucks.
We may see one another, sure, but we rarely connect anymore. We just watch one another from afar, as if we are just more performers on another program and we tune in as we’re able and when we can.
Maybe we give an emoji reaction.
Maybe we don’t.
We’re out there, watching, but we’re not connecting.
We won’t just say what we want to say – What Happened To Us? – because we just don’t want the answer, and people don’t want the question.
We won’t try harder but we just can’t…let…go.
So, we become ghosts haunting one another with memories of laughter shared, jokes passed, and connections that had once been so vital become like so many flower petals in the wind.
If we are lucky, if we are deserving, our circles may shrink but not empty, and a few people will remain with us as we walk the next section of our path, and head towards our eventual ending, it’s just sad how many others never bothered to even try to keep.
And how little we seemed to care.