That’s what friends are for…

ChairsI’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.

20 thoughts on “That’s what friends are for…

  1. Marlene du Plessis

    Haven’t read it yet…will do anon…just want to say glad you’re back and next time please ask permission before leaving the blogosphere.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Marlene du Plessis

    Well put; as eloquent and spot-on as always. But hey, we became friends exactly BECAUSE of cyberspace and we’ve Skyped and I was ‘there’ for you when you were in pain :-(. If I lived up north I’d have popped in to bug you two for a cuppa or a vino ling time ago!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. OAH

    Interesting as always Sandy. It’s surprising what happens when you make an effort. I recently went to the 59th anniversary of my high school graduating class. I met people I hadn’t seen for that length of time. We all got on well. Some interesting lives and people and some not so, but worthwhile anyway!

    Enjoy the great wines there!

  4. HUGH POLLARD

    So much for the early night I was promising myself. Well anytime before 2 a.m would be early for me as my sleep patterns are all to hell, but that’s what happens when you spend almost 3 years of your life constantly caring for someone, you love as they die. I lost Di, or to be more precisie she lost her battle against MND in late August, right at the peak of the ‘lets all throw a bucket of iced water over our heads’ trend.

    What you are describing is nothing new, I spent almost 30 years in the Fire service, about 14 of them as officer in charge of the village station, know how many of my ex colleagues came up to say how sorry they were to hear the news? Not one of the bastards. And these are guys who regularly used to ring up with tales of woe as to why they couldn’t attend drill, or would unexpectedly have to be away for the weekend even though they were booked as providing cover, have a guess who they spoke to at least 50% of the time, and who organised the Christmas meal for them and their other 1/2’s. One day I’ll tell you the story of what happened on my 50th Birthday, it wasn’t fun, and it’s why I’m no longer in the Fire service, it’s also probably the last time I went into a pub . 

    I’m not a recluse, but I am fast becoming agaraphobic, primarily because I can’t be bothered to trust people, as I honestly really don’t need another kick in the teeth. You know my take on what has happened to my village, you also know the story of Di and I. 

    I’m afraid Sandy that as you get older, you tend to look at life as a war of attrician, see how many of the others you can outlast. If your Mother doesn’t seem to know what time of day it is, then try to make time in your life to spend some time with her, you know what it was like to lose your Dad, you can’t replace them when they are gone, no matter how much you wish.

    And belated Birthday wishes. In different circumstances I would probably fired you an email, asking if you had worked out where the effects of alcohol stopped and senility started.

    Don’t let life get you down it’s too short (the attached photo was taken in Feb 2009, I only had another 18 months of her being active),  get out there and rattle a few cages, just to prove that you still can. All the best Hugh

    ________________________________

    1. sandysview

      Cheers Hugh, I’m sorry to hear of Di’s passing. There’s never a good thing to say but I guess at least she is no longer suffering and looking down the barrel. I’m glad for you that you had the great love so many seek and sad that it was taken away. It’s not always funny how things turn out. The photo wasn’t attached, not sure you can do that on here but please email it to me. Cheers for the Birthday wishes. We’ll catch up for a pint one day.

  5. Helen Devries

    I’ve lost touch with everyone with whom I worked; my husband’s long illness isolated us from all but a few friends and his extended family. These are the people who come to visit us here, and who keep in touch on a fairly sporadic fashion. My husband’s immediate family cannot do enough to hurt him.

    We keep in touch with those friends and family by e mail and Skype between visits…it’s lovely to hear a well known voice…and Facebook doesn’t cut it in comparison.

  6. krysann1

    I guess my comment wasn’t meant to be posted. I hate my ipad! I wrote a novel, Sandy. Clicked ‘post comment’, entered name, email addy, etc. received notification that I needed to login, had forgotten my password, requested new one, returned to somewhere, comment gone! How dumb can one be?!!

    Not sure I can put my thoughts down again. Took me half the day as it was. 🙂 Grammar wasn’t too hot, but I know you would have figured the Pipiwai lingo out. Perhaps I’ll try again another day.

    Sorry for not taking the tally to ‘two’ of those who cared. When I decide to write again, probably via email, I’ll try again to explain. Arohanui ki a koe, Sandy. Arohanui, ano hoki, ki to whaea. Ann

    1. sandysview

      Cheers Ann. I know that feeling. Don’t worry about you in this, you’ve got all your whanau to keep track of. From what I can gather you are already flat out organising everyone. Catch up sometime xx

  7. kfc1404

    Mmmmm, thought provoking stuff Sandy, I only really have one friend who moved away 30 odd years ago, and whilst we had the odd telephone call we have only seen each other in the flesh twice in that period, and only for a couple of days at that but, what was increasing apparent especially on his last visit which, was incidentally only a couple of weeks ago, was that we are no longer close, whether that was distance or time related I’m not sure but, if I was a betting man I would say time.Time changes us more and more as we get older I find, almost exponentially if that were possible! In essence I agree with all you write but, would have to add the addendum that you might be guilty of a touch of One Size Fits All syndrome, I don’t mean that as a criticism, more that I think we are all more different than we think and ironically social media makes that glaringly obvious, well, at least to me it does! But, Hey, what do I know! I suppose nice for that need friends and nice for those that don’t! I’m a bit in between, not sure if I do, or if I don’t!

  8. hattydaze

    Good post Sandy and I do get your point, but I have to say we don’t even speak to Dafe’s sister in NZ, you’re just too bloody far away. Think of you often but I am barely keeping up with myself at the moment. I think FB is a bit weird, I’d be happy to keep in touch on email or Instagram (or are you packing that in too?), but sometimes you take what little contact you can get, especially when you are half the way round the world! Big hug from London xx

  9. Kit Green

    I recognise your scenario far too well. I have had similar a few years back in my early fifties but I think that it is not just people of our age that see the issues.

    More people need to wise up and accept that “Social Media” is nothing of the sort. It is mainly just idle gossip, willy waving and hidden marketing.

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