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.
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?
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
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)