Tuesday, March 29, 2011

e-Friend Overload?

An online friend (Blogger #1) contacted me today, inquiring about another online friend (Blogger #2), the latter of whom had deactivated her Facebook account and whose new blog was not longer viewable. Having connected with email once or twice before, I sent a message to Blogger #2, explaining that B1 and I both were wondering what was up.

B2 responded that she was just checking out for a bit and was sure she'd be back, eventually. I relayed this message back to B1, who responded with something that struck a chord with me. She said, and I'll paraphrase: Many of my friends are people I've never met in person. We share intellectual commonalities of some kind. I'm always looking for my tribe.

That is so true for me, I'm always in search of people with whom I have something in common deeper than an appreciation for the same types of cars or the same television dramas. I don't find many people who reveal themselves to me as having any depth they care to share with me.

Perhaps it's because of where I live; the fact that open-mindedness here is viewed with suspicion and contempt. Or perhaps it's because I'm not easy to share with, in person. I suspect I'm a much more pleasant person in the ether than I am in the real world. I react to the world. Sometimes...often(?)...I react badly to it.

More likely than not, the truth sits squarely in the middle, borrowing heavily from both ends of the spectrum.

But, back to B1's reference to looking for her tribe. It really struck me. I felt like it described a quest I've rarely articulated. I have been looking for friends my entire life, people with whom I can feel comfortable, and vice versa, and people whose attitudes and sense of morality are in sync with my own, at least on a fundamental level.

Often, I've felt a sense of kinship to people for awhile because of the ideas they express, only to allow that sense to diminish. It degrades when I find that the ideas they express are based on religious imperatives that they think they should embrace. I have no quarrel with the ideas. But then I learn, or come to believe, that they do not embrace the ideas on their own but simply pay lip service to them out of an half-hearted commitment to the church. And it's not even a commitment to the church, but to a belief that something truly ugly awaits them in "the next life" if they don't adopt the concepts. That's where I smell hypocrisy. That's when my sense of kinship leaves.

Interestingly, that sense of kinship does not flee when I deal with people whose concepts of morality are based on religion but who do not rely on religion to justify those concepts. While I would argue passionately with them (and have done) against the legitimacy of their religious doctrines, I don't...always...find them to be offensive. I don't loathe people who are religous; but I do not respect people who are unwilling to question their own faith.

This rant is going all over, isn't it?

Back to my point. I miss my friend who has chosen to distance herself from those of us who value her "presence" on the internet. But I realize that we're not close; none of us are truly close. I don't know that I think closeness is possible without much more interaction than I have with my online friends. I don't doubt that we could become quite close, but I probably won't know it.

Maybe she is experiencing something like the feelings that have come over me from time to time. There have been times in which I have had occasion to interact quite frequently with someone via email, online, or some other form of non-proximal contact and that interaction has become suffocating. I don't know why and I can't seem to find any similarities between the people involved or even the types of interchanges...but I have found myself desperate for a break from the. Maybe that's what B2 is experiencing...e-friend overload.

The e-people with whom I regularly, or at least relatively frequently, interact now are people I find quite engaging. I consider them my friends. So I'm dredging up experiences and emotions, rather than feeling them first-hand, today. But maybe I'm on to something.

Or maybe I'm not. I've driven down blind alleys before, only to be attacked by herds of alley cats.


The Old Bat Cadet said...

1.) Try to respond rather than react.
2.) People should do things because they are the right thing to do. Not out of fear.
3.) When confronted with "Just whose side are you on?", try to respond with "I'm on the side of right and just, which side are you on?"
These two or rather three cents worth have been brought to you by......

YourFireAnt said...

or maybe B1 [ or KR ]'s disappearance has nothing to do with us, her e.friends. ;-)