Your life is awesome? That’s great. I’m glad to hear it. Or read it on Facebook anyway. I’m glad that you had a great meal, had a great time, killed time with old friend, felt the sun on your face, ran with grace, dreamt of stars and space. I’m glad your life is awesome.
All in all, my life is awesome. I’m in good health. I love my wife, my family, my friends and at least some of them love me. It feels good to be rich, which I recently decided I was. True, as it stands right now, if I add up all my cash and IRAs and 401ks and subtract credit cards and mortgages, I end up with a negative number. But by most standards that exist most places and most times for most of humanity, I’m certain I’m rich. And honestly, it feels good to be rich.
So I’m awesome and you’re awesome, which is awesome.
There’s just one thing that troubles me.
Before Facebook, my friends weren’t quite so awesome. My friends were often awesome, but sometimes sad, troubled, worried.
I remember the night you and I sat up drinking wine until the sun brightened the horizon because someone left one of us. I don’t even remember which one of us got dumped, but I remember raising a toast to difficult women. I remember we both had a mild buzz on (at least mine was mild) and a serious case of sleep deprivation. And it felt like friendship.
I remember when there was a problem with my paycheck which meant there was very soon going to be a problem with my rent. You offered me money. We didn’t even know each other that well then. I certainly wouldn’t have dared ask you for money, but you offered. And it felt like friendship.
I remember that sometimes we went to cool places, but for the most part our lives were pretty boring. There was a lot of going to work and coming home and doing dishes and laundry and a lot of saying “Hey, I’d love to watch a movie tonight, but I’m super tired.” And later, I remember a lot of “I’ve got the kids this weekend. We won’t really be able to talk, but you can come over and hang out.” And it felt like friendship.
And I remember last week. Everyone I knew was awesome and doing their awesome stuff. The sunset was awesome. The hike was awesome. The climb was awesome. And somehow it didn’t feel like much of anything at all.
You say this well. I agree: there is only so much we can put on social media. It is, perhaps, the most public of our public faces. For those of us (like me) who are unwilling to be perceived as whiners, it leaves us with a hole where a friend would live–that space in which we are really connected, present, and caring for each other in real time. One of the best examples of that is once when, after I’d gone over how things were still so bad, my friend: “Mark, the only reason I can have this conversation with you right now is because I know that in five years, we won’t be having this conversation.” But we had the conversation. And five years later, we were, indeed, having a different one. Good to have those. Miss you and Theresa a lot. –Mark (and Ping)
Honestly, that’s also why my Facebook feed is the way it is – it is overwhelmingly a newsfeed of articles I like, but almost never how I feel. I feel that if I can’t voice my sorrows, it feels false to me to voice my joys. And I don’t want to voice my sorrows and frustrations on Facebook. So if you want to know how I’m feeling, and to a large extent what I’m doing (other than what I’m reading), you pretty much need to get in touch some other way. What I most enjoy from my friends on Facebook is finding out what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. I’m just not comfortable participating in that.