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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Social Networking Collapsed My Circles

I love the Internet.  True story.  My love for the world wide web looks more like my love for books and vacation planning than it does my love for my family, but love is an OK word to use here.

I love social networking.  There's an inside joke at our house that all of Mommy's friends live in her computer, although in recent months a lot of Mommy's friends have moved to the local coffee house, so at least there's that.

But let's face it.  This constant interaction with people can be a little overwhelming (at least for this melancholy, choleric, INFJ (advocate... yeah that's me being the 1%), conservative liberal, community minded, ever so slightly arrogant, stubborn to a fault, only child).

For as long as I can remember, I have been painfully self-aware.  A lot of people don't believe this, because I am also agonizingly... devastatingly... oh, let's just go with awkwardly honest.  So I start spewing stuff... true stuff... out of my mouth, and people take a step back and whisper things like, "Oh, she must not be very self-aware...  should we tell her?"  And I just laugh... hysterically... because I have meticulously planned every single word for public consumption.  Just because I tell the truth doesn't mean I tell it all.  I say a lot more than most people would be comfortable with, but we all have our secrets.

That's been my life.  Mostly.

We all have our circles, too.  Like the vast majority of people in this particular culture, this is what mine looked like:

Neat, right?  I mean, there was a little bit of overlap here and there with some creative flair, but pretty run of the mill when it comes right down to it.  There I am in the center, flaunting my, "please just call me by a letter and put a crown on that while you're at it," surrounded by family... and friends... and a smattering of other people.  Like most everyone, there were even a few people outside my circles, completely, who didn't like me, but whatever.  Circle's closed.  The temptation to type "Can't touch this" is so great that I had to do it, but please try not to dwell on MC Hammer for too long...

Seriously... stop right now...  I have more to say...

Even though I am ultra-self aware, though, I do have a tragic flaw.  My inner circle... you know, the one that's supposed to be reserved for family and maybe, just maybe, the most intimate of friends who have known me since Kindergarten (which, would be no one)... it's not airtight.  I would like to take this moment to do something that I rarely do.  I would like to blame this flaw on my childhood.  I honestly believe it is difficult for only children to accept the lack of sibling relationships in that inner circle, and for as long as I can remember, I have gone looking for them.  Except, they don't exist.  I should probably close the gate.

So I'm actually pretty bitter about this lack of siblings thing.  I'm trying to make this post sound sort of sarcastically funny so you won't notice.  When the bottom fell out of... well... everything, some years back, it would have been exceptionally handy to have a brother to run to or a sister to cry with.  Maybe I don't actually understand sibling relationships, but I have always imagined they are the type of people you can call at midnight when you're pulling out all your hair.  If that's not the way it really is, don't bother to correct me.  Let me have my sibling fantasy world.  It's not hurting anybody.

My error was forgetting that I don't have anyone to fill that role and reconnecting with or meeting new people on social networking platforms was never going to change that.  But goodness, there sure were a lot of people! 

Before I knew it, the capability of saying whatever I wanted to whomever I wanted whenever I wanted was at my fingertips (literally).  I am going to maintain that I remained intensely self-aware.  In any given moment, I legitimately only said what I wanted, when I wanted, to whom I wanted.  I take full responsibility for that.  But I lost track of what made sense.

My circles collapsed, and the resulting image wasn't too pretty anymore.  This is what it looked like:

I wasn't even sure which roles belonged to which people.  I'm still picking up pieces, and I probably will be for a really long time (maybe the rest of my life). 

There are some good things that have come from this.  The greatest one is that I think I have learned something about those people who knew me and didn't like me.  Well, maybe even a couple of things.  First of all, some of them are really great people who legitimately belong inside the circles, perhaps even pretty deep inside the circles.  That makes me happy.  Second, though, some of them are people that I just have to let go, remembering that they remain human beings, created in God's image, and it would be terrific if their lives turn out awesome.  I can pray for them, and I can hope for the very best for them.  If they ever approach my circles, I can even let them in.  But I don't have to chase them.  God will do a much better job of that than I ever could, anyway.

Reconnecting, in real life interaction, with old friends who come close to being lifelong relationships, has been pretty sweet, too.  One of them told me, the other day, that I need to focus on the people who love and support me.  She's so smart.  And brave.  Because I scare a lot of people too much for them to get in my face and tell me to cut the crap.

But I guess I'm just throwing this out there, mostly, because maybe it's still possible to save someone else from circle collapse.  I want to say something really provocative like, "Don't kiss strangers," but I didn't actually do that.  It almost never falls apart in one crushing move, though.  Just remember who you are.  Remember who your people are.  Set boundaries and love appropriately within all of them.  I think that probably works out best for everybody.



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  3. Can I be part of your "strangers who love me and my blog" group?

    1. Yes! Absolutely! This comment made me smile, this morning. You know, we even have enough mutual Facebook friends that you don't have to be a stranger! ;)