People are just not all they’re cracked up to be. Sure, I like the idea of them…being one with humanity, part of the brotherhood of man. But the idea is just that. A concept. It doesn’t often find sustenance in the world of reality – or maybe just my reality, especially in this present-day technology-dominant culture.
Wasn’t social media supposed to keep us all connected in an ever-expanding global world? Or something like that? Well, technology was never my thing really, although I use it most every day, in one capacity or another. Still, in this era of easy connection: Facebook, emails, text messaging – the cohesion seems even less substantial, and also more painful and alienating.
I ask you, what’s worse than seeing a look of boredom or disinterest on someone’s face while you’re in the middle of speaking with them? Their eyes darting around the room because they’re no longer paying attention. Or asking a question and then they suddenly interrupt you mid-word to speak to someone else? I’ll tell you what, leaving your little statement of the day on Facebook, and no one so much as “liking” it – no thumbs-up for you! No comment or acknowledgment. Just nothing. Cyber silence. The little attempt at connecting just flapping alone in the news stream all day the fucking long. That’s what’s worse. Or checking your inbox and seeing that your emails weren’t responded to.
Yes sir…boy, there’s a certain kind of cyber-indifference that’s especially painful. Personally, I always make an effort to comment on my friend’s postings, photographs and links to articles. I don’t do it because I’m trying to score points, but because I genuinely enjoy hearing about their lives. I don’t get to every one, nor do I try to, but I care enough to let them know that they are seen and heard and appreciated. And yet, I notice, more often than not, my comments on their posts are usually left dangling, no additional responses added by the friend. It just seems like one big heartless warehouse of nothingness.
And it isn’t just about me and my little hurt feelings. I’ll often see a post of this or that on Facebook, and a bunch of their friends respond – people I don’t even know – and they don’t get much back either – and I feel sorry for them, just hanging out there in internet limbo – all alone. It’s sort of like the Grand Poobah sitting on high, issuing proclamations about their life, while their loyal acolytes line up beneath them to sing their hosannas – only to be regularly ignored.
I know it shouldn’t bother me. I’m a mature adult, after all (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I mean, why feel hurt or annoyed? People are busy with their lives. Hell…maybe the problem is, I don’t have enough going on in my own. Maybe I should take up golf, or ceramics or sky-diving – and post photos of my exploits on Facebook. But, no…even when the kids were small and I was struggling to run everyone’s lives and the house, and also crammed in three or more hours a day of writing, I always had time for a phone call or a hand-written letter. So, what does that mean? Could it be that I’m a better, kinder, more thoughtful person than these other folks? No…that’s certainly, definitely not it. So, what is at the root of this casual indifference?
Perhaps it’s more a question of narcissism. But, if that’s the case, how come there are so many narcissistic people nowadays? What happened? Was it something in the water? Does fluoride do this? Life used to be more relaxed, that’s for sure. People used to be more open, friendlier. Conversations, back-and-forth, getting to know each other – where did it go? Everyone wasn’t always running hither and yon, so overwhelmed by the complexity of their lives and the minutiae of their thoughts that they had so little time to interact or respond to another person. Or is it a matter of priorities? The priority, above all else nowadays, apparently being - oneself?
What is the point in posting what you’re doing, or new photographs, or some link or whatever – if you’re not interested in getting feedback and communicating? I simply can’t understand the reasoning behind it. Maybe that’s just me. It’s also akin to writing something, posting it on a blog, and then not caring if anyone comments – and when they do – you can’t be bothered to acknowledge them. I could understand it if it’s someone like Matt Taibbi or Joan Walsh or whoever – someone who actually does this sort of thing for a living – but a regular Bob or Buffy? I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something there too. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
So what is it about these people that seem to be so completely self-involved? What has changed to make them so careless about others? Is it reality TV or preservatives and chemicals in their corporate foods? Too many pharmaceuticals for every last little ailment…all the anti-anxiety and depression meds that make them so self-focused as to be mirrors unto themselves? Is it the internet itself, where they can continuously loop all their varied thoughts and opinions but don’t care what anyone else thinks – other people are easily deleted, and the only thing that matters is the view they see of themselves on the screen? I don’t know.
I get tired of caring sometimes. Tired of trying and making an effort. I actually don’t want the echo of my own voice, but always seek the sounds of others – cyber-like too often as they are - instead of the real deal. But photos, words, links and ideas show me what people are up to or engaged by, and that interests me. People interest me. And, of course, it’s not everyone. There are enough conscious souls not full of themselves but eager to engage and be inclusive to make texting, emails, Facebook or blogging, worthwhile for me. But the prevalence of the me-me-me variety sometimes taints the cyber pool.
Life is tough enough as it is, with the daily grind and the small but continual injustices, indignities and rejections. You can receive the human brush-off, and those suck in real time, Bucko. But to add insult on top of annoyance, there is something especially cold about the cyber-snub. Not that it’s a snub exactly (although sometimes it most assuredly is). It’s not as if these people are actively against you – no. They may like or even love you. But they just don’t have the time. They don’t have the interest. They don’t have enough megabytes of capacity. They are not going out of their way or concerned enough with you to let you know that they give a shit. No, they’re about to post another one of their numerous daily thoughts or updates, and many of us on their “friends” list are bound to comment or give the thumbs-up – all to what end and for what purpose really? They may not care, but do they even notice? Or do they sit in front of their computer screens, smiling with satisfaction at the love and support they routinely receive? I’ll certainly never know.
I don’t like the idea of wilderness living. I mean…no electricity or plumbing. Even a girl of simple desires and an earthier attitude draws the line at certain hardships. There was this guy, Dick Proenneke – he lived alone and off the land in the wilds of Alaska. An amazing guy, he could practically whittle medical equipment out of twigs. And then the young man from “Into the Wild” who renounced his material comforts and moved off to Alaska to get in touch with nature and himself – and came to a rather grisly end. Or, Timothy Treadwell, who, well…talk about grizzly endings… Yeah, I don’t quite cotton to the idea of all that girl-against-the-elements-and-wildlife-biz, but I can understand the giving up on society and removing yourself mentality. If you don’t know the insincere rules of the road, the superficial niceties and the common etiquette of mutually not caring too much, the tenets of hollow societal interaction pleasantries “How-are-you-I’m-fine”, it was a rough place to butt up against every day.