Several months ago a friend posted something to the effect of, “life takes many turns.” It was a phrase I held onto when one of my online relationships fizzled. I thought it was real until I realized I was being catfished. Again. My catfish history has lead to my 9 day series on Anatomy of a Catfish, and here is the first post in said series. It’s not all roses but it’s not just piss, either.
I was again on Facebook today when another friend posted about unfriending and blocking people. We take that for granted, don’t we? With the superficial aspect of online friendships, we have the full ability to cut someone off and we can choose to not acknowledge their existence. It’s easy. It’s a button and a confirmation click and you don’t have to see them and you can stop them from seeing you. When my ex first left me and I felt abandoned and attacked by everyone that knew us both, I did lots of blocking. I’ve since unblocked people. Less freakouts on my part mean I’m more passive about the secret fan club I may or may not have. Now there’s a handful of blocked people and they’re only men that didn’t take my direct rejection as hint enough to stop asking me out. (Please don’t try to woo a woman by telling her she doesn’t know what she wants when she tells you it’s not you.)
I even fully ghosted a man once. Months later he called me from a different number to ask why and it’s not something I choose to do as easily. It’s human nature to need acknowledgement. I knew a man that was big on ignoring people. Maybe I still know him. I don’t know if you ever know anyone right now. I’m a little jaded. I can admit it though. We were at a gas station once and another man walked up to his window to ask for money. The person I knew ignored him. The acknowledgement probably hurt more than the money that wasn’t given. It’s important to humans to be seen. It’s who we are. There are selfies for that reason. Personally, I have a whole blog with stats and everything.
Where is the social aspect of social media? Don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook. I give my Facebook feed more of my free time than I give my blog. I get to spy on friends and watch their lives without taking time out of my life to actually see them in person. I can share inspiring videos and things that make me smile. I can share snippets of my Mommy Moments that look like snark and dark humor. I can wish someone a happy birthday and even though that may be my only interaction with them or their page until next year, I can make you believe that phrase I typed means I hold you close to me. Because in that moment you do. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my friends and really do stalk them all day and night. At the same time, I can’t tell you the last time I drove to a home or restaurant or cafe for a moment to really engage with someone outside of my kids. It’s totally me. As it is, I rarely feel like there are enough hours in the day to do the things that I want to do the most.
Life would be different without social media. I would probably make a greater effort. I mean, all of the meaning we feel in life is a reflection of the relationships in our lives. As much as I’m big on my loner moments, I’m still very affected by my relationships and the frustration I feel with the amount and quality of interactions I rarely make time for. When I was younger I would call my grandmother or write her letters. When she passed, I found that she kept all of them.
Today I can share a picture and tag my mom and she doesn’t need me to make the same efforts. My mom takes Facebook photos and prints them out. At the same time, social selling has become so easy because of these relationships. People I know and have trusted are a few finger strokes away. There’s a whole network of people I have met or know through a network or two that share certain visionary ideals and their pictures and thoughts give me a daily boost of hope. My point is we all need to dig deeper for a more meaningful relational experience with our friends. With the fast pace of life as a mom, I understand how busy we can all get.
Yes, I just admitted I’m not as involved in relationships as I really want to be. There are friends I’ve known since I was a little girl and friends from high school that I would love to spend some time with. There’s a 3 month old I am dying to hold and sing to, but I haven’t made the effort. I see his adorable pictures and pick apart the ways he looks just like his Dad did when we were all young and loving our terrible choices for after school entertainment.
What about applying the superficiality of online relationships to real life? In school we were forced to see the same people over and over again. If you started a relationship that ended, you might get stuck with that same person sitting behind you. Talking about the new person in their life. Making you miss them and showing you all of the reasons why you really shouldn’t. You grow up and sometimes there’s a spark at work and you consider that career move a little faster than you might have. Or, like me, you go through a nasty separation with kids and have to do a custody swap. We were lucky enough to have a judge wise enough to make most of those swaps happen from the kid’s schools. If I’m lucky, I don’t have to see him. But at the same time, we still have to see each other at functions for the kids and on custody swaps during vacation times. It’s frustrating because at one point we were close.
That’s the point of relationships, right? At one point you move from strangers with nothing in common to people that share interests. You become people that share a history. Post relationship we might be able to be friends instead of picking fights. That rarely happens for me. A relationship ends and either they still love me or hate me. There’s no in between that fades into friendship. But when we blocked each other there was no fuel to fight with. It was convenient.
The thing with relationships it that they don’t just end. Months and years later, you might hear a song or smell something that brings you right back to where you were when you remember a special memory. The people we love or have loved will leave indelible marks on our hearts and it’s okay to honor that. I think it’s okay to tell someone what they meant or mean to you, even if there is nothing reciprocated because there is too much hurt to allow something like that to land. The beauty of love is it can be unconditional. You can give it without expecting anything in return. You can offer it, knowing that it may always be unrequited. Giving love without it being returned can be painful. It helps to remind yourself that your expectation meant you weren’t giving it unconditionally. That expectation was the cost of the love you offered.
Relationships aren’t meant to be convenient. They aren’t meant to be one sided either. My late aunt once gave me the best marriage advice. You give as much as you get. That’s part of the deal. The relationships we have take effort and communication. They need time and intentional connection. With all that we have and all that it takes, and our individual needs to be seen, acknowledged and loved, is it really that important to cut someone out of your life?