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The Existential Compost

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3rd September 2012

Friends @ 21:20

Current Garden: Leamington Spa

My philosophy is that we are all on a journey together. We walk different paths. Sometimes the paths are close to each other and we walk some distance together before the paths diverge. Other times the paths continue on together for what seems like a long time. While walking these paths we make friends with our fellow walkers. They become life time companions. Others diverge, people we once knew that move on to other things maybe even a few we lose touch with. Some walkers on these paths reach the goal before others and they exit through the gift shop, picking up their celestial commemorative photos on the way. Some enjoy the walk so much that they buy another ticket and the path of life for them begins again.

Three things happened this weekend that kind of reminded me of how fluid friends are. The first was my parents. They are both in their seventies. My mum's phone kept ringing throughout my stay in Liverpool. It was either this person or that person. When the phone wasn't ringing, it would be a neighbour popping down the road for a quick chat or a friend just passing to say hello. I realised I no longer have this experience. I have not had this experience since 2006 and even then it was waining.

The second occured because of a breakdown in communication. My paranoia rose and in the short space of a moment I went from a feeling of fondness to a feeling of betrayal about that person. The feelings of betrayal grew into a feeling of lonliness, because yes, even after 2 years in the midlands, I am still to foster new friendships to the same levels of those friends I left behind in Liverpool and Yorkshire.

The third thing that happened was I had a message through Facebook from someone off the course I was on at Barnsley UCB. The message told me that another one of my friends, unartfuldodger, had died suddenly in their sleep. He was 26. This kind of knocked me for six and today I conversed with the friend who messaged me about how quickly we all drifted apart.

I believe that Facebook (and for that matter, the internet) gives us a false feeling of connection. We meet many people through our lives. Each person influences us in some fashion and we develop our own personality from the sum of the people we interact with, both those we get along with and those we don't. I won't dwell on those we don't get along with. In fact I'll just say "Life is too short for grudges no matter what a person has done". I think that's the core of what some bloke said two thousand years ago. But they nailed him to a tree and I don't fancy that fate so I won't dwell as I said.

Sure the internet has helped us touch others we might never meet and, conversely, it has helped us to keep touching the same and those we may be never able to touch again because of geographical constraints. Like this blog. You, my dear reader, you I have touched many times. In polite company I might be arrested I have reached out over the webwaves and through your screen, there I reach through the glass of your monitor and caress the back of your mind with tenderness, showing my appreciation and love for you all in my own special way. We click. We share our experiences. We share the path together for some time.

Crucially the point is how well do you know people. Apart from your closer family and friends, when was the last time you met that person on your Facebook? Have you even met them? When did they last touch you? Did you tell the police? When was the last time you were in the same town or geographical region as them? Did you even look them up? Would you look them up? Even if it was just for a five minute hello and catch up? What would you do if they stopped posting on Facebook, Twitter or Livejournal? Would you contact them to check they were alright?

I did an experiment this year. Back in the early noughties I was a prominent presence in the Thirty something chat rooms on Freeserve. People loved to chat with me. I loved to chat with people. Sadly, for personal reasons, I had to stop going into the chat rooms. Within 9 months I had a letter from one of the people who regularly visited the chatrooms. I wasn't particularly close to them but they wrote to show their concern at not seeing me online for so long. This year I stopped liking and posting on facebook. Nobody messaged me. Nobody enquired about my health. Ok granted, a good deal of people on my facebook know people I know and no doubt I suspect they thought if anything was wrong they would know through them. In away, unartfuldodger Steve's death reinforced this fact. I would probably never have known had it not been for another friend pointing out the announcement on facebook. Have we really all drifted apart? Or is it just my feeling of isolation that brings this to me?

So I now ask you to look again at your Facebook, Twitter and LJ accounts and friends lists. If there is someone on there who has truly touched you in some way or other tell the police, and you haven't heard from them for a while, message them. Let them know you think of them still. Dont delete them. Don't ignore them and hope they message you. And I'm not saying just like a post of theirs or comment vaccuously on some posting of theirs. Make an effort. Email them. Message them directly. Say hi. Ask them how they are. Ask them a question. Tell them I told you to do it. Who knows, maybe I'll get some messages too. The people we meet on our journey along lifes paths are gifts and guides to us. Cherish each and every person you meet. Listen to them. Talk to them. Share your message so they too can touch and impart a piece of you onto others. Without getting arrested.

Feel free to share this post so that it may touch others (appropriately) or you can link to the same post which appears across all my journals. (http://www.stegzy.co.uk)
 
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Comments

 
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From:stainsteelrat
Date:3rd September 2012 20:27 (UTC)
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As always, you're a helluva writer.
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From:stegzy
Date:3rd September 2012 20:35 (UTC)
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Thanks dude. And you are too!
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From:stainsteelrat
Date:4th September 2012 16:58 (UTC)
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Pale in comparison to you!

I didn't do a where-the-heck-has-stegzy gone type communication because Zoe was sort of updating about what you guys were up to. I assumed you had just tired of social networking, which is understandable.
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From:dr98emd
Date:3rd September 2012 20:42 (UTC)
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Thats a great post, tomorrow I'm going to take the time to really study and make a good answer :)
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From:stegzy
Date:4th September 2012 07:48 (UTC)
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I hope you do! Especially as you looked so fetching in your dust mask
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From:technophobe1975
Date:3rd September 2012 20:49 (UTC)
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Some food for thought there, I think.
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From:stegzy
Date:4th September 2012 07:48 (UTC)
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Food with gravy and all the trimmings.
From:ladyinthewood
Date:3rd September 2012 20:59 (UTC)
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Well that is a post with lots of fuel for thought i have lost count of the times people on my lj have said. " i am deleting journals that do not comment anymore" do we truly know why they no longer comment? Are they ok? Perhaps one should have reached out to them. I intend sharing your post, very well written :)
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From:stegzy
Date:4th September 2012 07:52 (UTC)
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Thanks.

I never delete people for exactly that reason. I always read but I know I rarely comment. Mostly because I feel I don't have anything constructive to add or someone has already expressed a view similar to my own.

Of course it is not limited to social media, there are people I don't have on my various social media pages that I would love to get in touch with again but they have, for some reason or another, drifted away from my path. I take comfort, however, that eventually our paths will pass close again sometime. When, one can never say, but it will happen.
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From:hullabalo_o
Date:3rd September 2012 21:39 (UTC)
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Ok bizarre you post this, because today I met with my friend tispity (Rox), she and I met on LJ late 2010 here because we had a bit in common, now take note I still didn't know many people in Exeter to hang out with I was pretty much alone a fair bit of the time, but meeting Rox in person was good because I've got an awesome local friend who in turn introduced me to her friends etc, we have poker nights, drinks out etc all good and my point is today I told her if it wasn't for her and her friends, I would of left exeter by now I'm settled and SO lucky to have lovely local LJ friends /end ramble
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From:stegzy
Date:4th September 2012 07:57 (UTC)
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When I was younger meeting people through social media was a good way of making new friends. When I lived in Yorkshire I became quite close to an LJer but when I moved away he deleted me and most of my connected friends. This saddened me but I accepted it as it was part of his character.

I've looked for LJers in Leamington Spa but I suppose because I'm not as active these days as I was on LJ it has proven to be difficult. Zoe made a not-on-LJ friend through someone who is on LJ and they only live round the corner. However I've found it a bit more difficult. I've accepted it as part of growing up as most people my age tend to be either child focussed or too busy with their careers.

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From:bexoxo
Date:3rd September 2012 22:10 (UTC)
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This is a great post.</p>

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I lost a close friend recently (he was 25) and it kind of got me thinking the same thing.

I don't have any close friends in Yorkshire and I miss having that.. I've just spent a week back in Lancashire catching up with old friends and it was great but there are so many more people I've lost touch with over the years. It's sad.

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From:stegzy
Date:4th September 2012 08:02 (UTC)
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I miss having close friends here too. I mean it's ok having zoefruitcake with me to be my foil but sometimes a man needs a man to talk old toot with. Losing touch with those we already know is so easy to do but not always easy to repair. Life moves on I suppose, people and expectations change.

I think social media has made us more lazy at keeping in touch in some respects. In others, it is a good way but I guess its how we use it, what we make from it and how much effort we put in ourselves. Bit like everything else really.
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From:meathiel
Date:4th September 2012 07:12 (UTC)
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Great post.

I lost a penpal who I'd also met personally 2 years ago. She had a LJ but hadn't posted in forever. I found out by chance because her ex-husband is on FB ...
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From:stegzy
Date:4th September 2012 08:03 (UTC)
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I dread to think how many other people on my FB and LJ have passed on.
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From:louenn
Date:11th September 2012 18:28 (UTC)
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You're right about the use of social media sites. There are people who I have as friends on FB for example, who I don't interact with at all, who I only accepted the request from because I was once at school with them and wasn't actually a friend with. Having "friends" on there, as opposed to friends can make it more difficult to see what's really going on and if someone has stopped posting or is posting less than you think they ought to be.

Which reminds me. I've not seen anything from billzy recently. Is he still using LJ?
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From:stegzy
Date:11th September 2012 18:40 (UTC)
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Me neither. I think he's having his annual post holiday social networking black out.
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From:louenn
Date:11th September 2012 19:18 (UTC)
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His last post was a month ago on the anniversary of his nativity.

If he doesn't turn up, is there anyone on LJ who's vaguely near Liverpool who could go knock on his door? (I'm kind of stuck in Whitby for now.)

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