I’m back! I was left to my own devices for a bit and had too much time to think. I’ve been brewing this for a few days, wasn’t sure whether to post it at all or quite how to approach it. Then I had the best angle delivered into my lap this morning on Facebook. I needed an angle otherwise it will come across as being all about me. But while it is, it isn’t. I’m trying to grasp the bigger picture here and what best to do about it. Writing it down may help articulate the issue and help me address it in my own situation.
The idea is also to help articulate it for other people this may resonate with. Someone I know shared the ‘status update’ of someone I don’t know on Facebook this morning. I’ve cut and pasted it so you can read the text in its entirety.
‘For all my friends, whether close or casual, just because. This is one of the longest posts I will ever make, and one of the most real too. Everyone will go through some hard times at some point. Life isn’t easy. Just something to think about. Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and help me? Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile to see how much pain they may be in. To all my friends who are going through some issues right now–let’s start an intentional avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. If I don’t see your name, I’ll understand. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy and paste this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all of those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just needs to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I know some will!!! I did it for a friend and you can too. You have to copy and paste this one, NO SHARING…I will leave it in the comments so it is easier for you to copy paste!’
What utter bollocks. The thing is that this was exactly the crux of my issue. Here is someone suggesting we comfort others ‘with issues’ by putting some general, vaguely supportive, non specific, aimed at nobody in particular rubbish on Facebook for an hour to demonstrate what a caring human being we are, how much we care about our friends. How about picking up the telephone or perhaps even popping round to visit your dear friend ‘with issues’? When did we capitulate our real concern and caring for others into social media updates? We are deeply social creatures and in the history of the world have never been more contactable, but the consensus seems to be that we don’t contact each other in real life any more. We text, or message, or send Facebook requests. We all have smart phones which seem to do everything except make phone calls.
My situation is unique but somewhat indicative. It’s not supposed to be about me but I’ll give you the works as it’s my blog and I can do what I like. As I said, writing it down will help me articulate and address it. In July 2013, I left a relationship I had been in for 20 years and returned home to New Zealand. My ex-wife and I had many friends, people I had known for most of my adult life. Do you know how many asked me what had happened and why? One person! Do you know how many I still hear from now I’m back in New Zealand. Of all the friends we had spent so much time with? One person! I had been away from New Zealand for 22 years. I have about 150 odd friends on Facebook, the large majority are people I have known since school and in the real world throughout my life and managed to get back into contact with when the internet was invented. Do you know how many people got in touch or came to visit me to welcome me home? One person! Since then, do you know how many phone calls I get from people I know, and friends I have known most of my life? None, not one. Since July 2013 my telephone has not rung once with a friend on the other end. That’s a bit sad really, poor me. Don’t worry though, I have a point and I’m getting to it.
I’ve undergone the most massive upheaval, I’ve thrown everything I had away to move home and start a new life with nothing. I just put reasonably frequent updates on Facebook because that’s the only communication with people outside work that I have. So I’m guilty as anyone. I don’t phone people in the UK because I don’t believe they would want to hear from me, or they’ve made no effort to contact me so therefore aren’t interested. The people I used to know in New Zealand have their own lives now which I’m not part of, so don’t feel it’s appropriate to contact them. I’d not given it all too much thought until I turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. Upon my milestone birthday.
Do you know how many birthday cards I got? One, I also got a text from my older brother and a phone call at 6.30am from my Mother who couldn’t seem to figure out what time of day it was. None of my ‘friends’ rang, none emailed, nobody got in touch to suggest having a refreshing lager to celebrate getting this far. To be fair, 19 of the 153 people on my Facebook said Happy Birthday, but seriously? You know? Maybe they were waiting for me to invite them to some lavish party? It was profoundly depressing and disappointing. It was also a wake up call. We’ve never been more contactable yet nobody gets in contact. Is it just me? I know I talk too much but hopefully I’m not such a repellent personality that nobody wants to have anything to do with me. I asked around and it seems a lot of people have little or no real world contact anymore with their loved ones or family.
Most people have no idea whatsoever what the ring tone on my telephone is. (It’s the good the bad and the ugly theme tune, I know, but I like it.) However, there is a cure. Nobody on my Facebook page gets in contact in person, not one of them so I use it as a communication device. If I wasn’t using it, would they notice? Certainly, as I’m very communicative. Everyone has my email address, it’s written on the ‘about’ page right here on this blog. I believe most of the people I know are aware of Sandysviews although few read it, it’s mostly read by strangers, you lot. Thanks for getting this far in this rather self-indulgent post. I can’t expect anyone I know, or thought I did, to get in touch as they have demonstrated they don’t wish to. So I have to find new people. Luckily because of the Internet, I’ve met some new cool new people in totally random ways, or through this blog. I’m a very social person, like all of humanity apart from the recluses who we all acknowledge are a bit strange.
People are lonely, people are wishing each other would get in touch but nobody does as much anymore because we can just post a ‘status update’ or a thumbs up as an easy alternative to actually communicating with people we profess to care about. I’ve packed in Facebook before but came back to it as I’m interested in what other people are up to. It’s toxic though isn’t it? So I’m going to have another go at binning it. I know it’s a good way of sharing life’s moments with those we believe might be interested. But it seems to have become the alternative and a very poor one to actual friendship. You know, talking, laughing (not LOL’ing), touching, or just silent companionship in the same room with someone you know and trust. Your friends need you and you need them, not just your thumbs up. Get in touch, in person.