Lately I’ve been going through some stuff. My personal life is in an upheaval of mammoth proportions. The ground is shaky beneath my feet, the sands shifting under toe while I try and maintain a balance that I’m not sure I ever really felt. The modern world is a fast paced and intruding place. Information flies at the stroke of a key, it is impersonal at best and obscure at worst, feeding our lives with false perceptions of the outside world. For those of us that are isolated, either by geography or circumstance or our own design or a globulous combination of them all, it can be a wonderful opportunity to step out of our lives and taste attachments, friendships, family. It can also be very damaging place to interact with others.
The truth is that we don’t see what is on the other side of the screen. We do not really know what that person who is commenting on our photos or replying to our blog posts really feels or thinks about us. All we have is their words without even the luxury of reading facial cues or picking up on tones. All those little things that tell us if the other person is being sincere, genuinely interested, sarcastic, angry or mocking.
Facebook is a huge deterrent for me. I am isolated and very literally go for weeks without speaking to another adult other than my husband. The only adult interaction I get otherwise is through Facebook. I have close to two hundred friends, many of them I don’t know in “real life”, I have never heard their voice, don’t know their cat’s name or even know if the name they display is really their own. I have connections to people that do not know those things about me.
For the most part my interaction has been pleasant. I post things that are important to me, funny things the kids say, photos of our vacation and a handful of acquaintances reply with positive things. But what about the others? What about the ones that seem to want to deter me? That have very little positive to contribute? That feel the need to nit pick information I find useful and repost? That comment under the guise of being “supporting” but their words stab at you underhandedly?
We all probably have those, I think. The people we restrict because they are SO damn adamant about a particular topic and you realize that you just can’t hear another word about it because you will never change. The ones that say they’ll pray for you when you ask for help moving. The ones that remind you how bad they have it every time you make the smallest gripe. Or the ones that just ignore you when you have an accomplishment you’re proud of.
And you know they’re online because the little green dot hangs next to their name but they don’t respond. Or they tell you they can’t figure out how to send you a message while PM’ing your spouse. Or tell you they can’t visit you in real life because of whatever Very Important Reason and then you see then tagged in someone elses photos at the beach.
Is it better to be ignorant? Before Facebook I didn’t know any of these things. I was blissfully ignorant I suppose, of these facts. That my place in their world because I wasn’t constantly in it. Contact was established the old fashioned way, by a telephone call or a happenstance meet up at Target. I saw only what I was physically present for and meanings were never misconstrued because I could read body language and voice cues.
Or is it better to know? To understand where you truly stand in a relationship? To hear the lip service and be able to recognize it as bullshit?
And when we know these things, that our place of importance in someone’s life, where we thought we stood on solid ground, is really us straddling a tectonic plate and we start to feel the vibrations of unsteadiness do we remain in these “friendships”? Why do we not unfriend the people that drag us down? Are we afraid of retribution? I am fairly certain each of my Friends is Friends with at least one other person on my list. If I unfriended them would I lose more friends because of it? What does that friend list really mean? Would those people help me if I fell, would they encourage me if I was sad? Or share in my joy when I had an accomplishment?
Many would not. They wouldn’t spare the characters on the screen to tell me “good job” or “keep your head up” or whatever social comfort I was looking for by posting my status updates. We all have these hangers-on in our lives why do we keep them? Those that show no interest, that never comment or post are easy to forget about. What does remaining “friends” with them accomplish? Are we secretly holding out the hope that that one best friendship we had in middle school will blossom again twenty years later? Are we doing it out of misplaced loyalty?
The journey through life is meant to be traveled through there are relationships and attachments that we make in life that serve their purpose and we are meant to leave them behind. They serve us no purpose; to remain clinging to something that has passed. That is the nature of life, for people to flow in and out of it taking things with them and leaving things behind, washing away and filling up again, smoothing out the rough places, wearing down the excess. I believe that people are placed in our lives for however long they are needed and then the Universe ebbs them back. They leave their mark and take with them things we need to leave behind, but one lingering question, in this digital, connected world in which we live is this
How will our lives change if we are never allowed to let go?