How serious can it be?

Look, I’ve been trying for days, ok more like 10 minutes, to make this post funny and light-hearted so as not to scare people, but I can’t seem to swing that. Sarcasm and nihilism, sure, those I can do, but teh funny – I’m having trouble with. So cut me some slack ok? As we have discussed, I’m kind of having issues with online relationships. This question, related to the previous one is how much do you share with your online friends? And the follow-up is, is it worth it?

Recently I’ve had a few friends burned by online friendships. Burned, scared, annihilated – whatever words you want to use, but they were full-on responses to full-on relationships. So my thoughts (being the self-absorbed George Costanza that I am) went, of course, straight to me. Can I get burned like that? (Quickly assesses all of my friendships online – no..yes..maybe..him I don’t even understand 1/2 the time..yes..no..maybe..yes..yes – Oh Shit. I can be hurt by these people, they can cut all ties with me and I don’t even know where they live?! How can I tp their house when I don’t even know where they live?!

WHAT?!

These people, with whom I have grown so fond of, to rely on, can hurt me, can devastate me and I don’t even know where they live? What the fuck is wrong with this picture? Here is number…let’s say 14, about what I really don’t get about what the hell I am doing online. No I get it, I will not send Mrs. Ylanga from Somalia, $5,000 in order to get $50,000, and no I am NOT clicking on that link for a free iPad, I get that, I do – but who are these 1/2 square inch avatars I have shared 100s ok, who are we kidding, 1,000s of hours with? I have seen these friends laid off, struggle to keep their house, find a new job. I’ve tried to talk them out of using crazy glue as a replacement for stitches, mourned the loss of loved ones with them, celebrated milestone anniversaries, and the births of their children. I ❤ these people, but – who the fuck are they? And how the hell can I tp their houses when they break my heart? More importantly, what do they think of me? A total stranger, sending good wishes, good luck, condolences and congratulations?

So again, the questions come back to me (George Costanza), how can I protect myself from you 1/2 inch square people? What do I share with you and what do I keep close to my heart? Is this how friendships work these days? I admit that with my work and home life, I'm a bit (totally) out of practice with the whole making new friends thing – but in my day (100s of years ago), friends where the kind you broke bread with, shared all but the deepest secrets, and even then, there were the select few (one) with whom you shared everything. Do I trust you – 140characters at a time? Do I let you into my heart, or do I step back and re-assess? Should I turn off my laptop, and step outside for real friendship? (of course they could then tp my house at will), and more importantly, where will I get the super-awesome memes like sadmusicals and oneoletteroffmovies?! You can see how I struggle.

How do you, non-think-like-a-computer-have-your-own-real-emotions, people do it? How do you know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run? Fuck, I just quoted Kenny Rogers in a serious moment (note to self – update musical phrase selection).

Maybe it's time to re-assess what I'm giving and receiving from this online place. I will be starting the hardest part (to date) of my educational life in a week, so I won’t have as much free time – maybe I should step back, let you 1/2 square inch people carry-on, while I protect myself…although the memes are pretty frakking funny.

Any thoughts?

*tp=toilet paper. gah, I’m old or you are young if you didn’t know that.

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12 Responses to How serious can it be?

  1. orangecountygal says:

    I’m in the City of Orange if you’d like to tp my place. It’s upstairs duplex so may be rather difficult. But I’ll leave the tp for you, might even help & then we’d go eat somewhere afterwards. Probably a food truck but I’m open!

  2. Becky says:

    You have nothing and everything to worry about because you are unique. You are sensitive to others and guarded for your self when you should be.
    There’s no easy answer — I’ve pondered the question many times and I always have a different answer. Trust is difficult with people you can physically interact with so building trust with online friends is hard… But not impossible. It can be done and I think has been done on many occasions.
    You have to trust yourself too though — which adds even more complication to the mix.
    You know where I live which means you could absolutely tp my house — I’d say that makes us real friends. 🙂
    You just have to go with what feels right.
    You’re special c and worthy of many great friendships.
    Thanks for posting this — I’ve thought about it and can never wrap my head around it.

    • casoly says:

      Thank you B! Very good advice, and the trusting myself part that may be what my problem is. Not sure that I do. I would never tp your house!! XO thank you for reading and commenting.

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you for writing this. I think this is a question we all have had to consider and answer for ourselves. Personally, I recently had to take a hard look at my participation on Twitter and Facebook and did step back. A little over a year ago I had also cut back my participation in another online community that I had been involved in for now 4 years. It is never an easy thing to do. But, I never left completely and still go back when I have something to share.

    You and I have discussed this privately. For me there were numerous reasons. I have had some questions about online friendships similar to yours. But I know in fact, I do have several online friends who I am close with and trust more than some of my friends in real life. I have also had some local online friends who have now become friends in real life.

    As you pointed out, the amount of time spent becomes important when you have little time to spend. When I went back to school I had to cut back on the amount of time I spent online. My friends understood and were quite helpful. I had one friend who when she saw me online would yell at me to go do my homework. Seriously, she really did.

    In real life she was a teacher who helped me pass my math class when I became hopelessly confused. She also proofread my creative writing assignments and talked me out of removing everything I had posted online when I thought it was crap. Early in our friendship, she once emailed me late at night when I was distraught over the possibility of losing my mother. Her words helped me make it through a very tough night. At that time, she barely knew me. Her name is Laurie and we have never met in person, but she is my real friend.

    I think it is important to assess your online friends as closely as you do your friends in real life. Caroline, you are right. You can be hurt by them. It is also important to be careful with your words as they are all you have. There are no visual cues to assist you which makes it so much harder.

    Caroline, I know it will be necessary to take a step back soon to concentrate on school. But, please know that this friend understands and will be around when you return.

    • casoly says:

      Thank you Mary! I’m very lucky to count you among my “online friends” who I do not question – your sincerity nor our friendship. Besides we communicate outside of Twitter, and if you want that hat, which I swear I will one day finish – I’ll be able to tp your place ;o) though I’m certain I will never want to. xo thank you for reading and commenting.

  4. Michele says:

    When I was about 16 I decided that trying to understand people and why they do the sometimes hurtful things they do was too damned much work. So, instead, I decided to take people at face value. If they seemed nice I would assume they actually were nice until they demonstrated otherwise. If they turned out to be false, I would delete them from my life. Over the decades since then I’ve learned that most people are pretty much what they seem, and I’ve become fairly expert at figuring out who the users and manipulators are. There are always tells. Overall, taking people at face value has simplified life a lot. I recommend it!

    • casoly says:

      Thanks Michele, that is great advice, and something I try to practice in 3D, but I have found that I can be fooled more easily online. I guess your advice still holds, for people I don’t let get too close to me. If you have tells, for these online folks, maybe I need to pick your brain. :o) Thank you for reading and commenting, I will try to take your advice to heart. xo

  5. Crystal says:

    I pretty much do what Michele does, and for the most part, it’s effective. But I also spend a good bit of time observing people first before I engage with them. Obviously, that’s much easier online. It helps to decide if that’s someone I -want- to have ‘in my life’ in the first place or not. Funnily enough (or not) most I end up saying, no I don’t think I want to try to build a friendship with that person. It’s a rough world. In real not online life, it’s much harder. But I’m borderline agoraphobic, I don’t go out much, or socialize much, so it’s not a huge deal, really.

    • casoly says:

      That’s a good idea, observing before engaging people, I think I need to do that more myself. I can see where if you don’t go out much, that online friends might be a good option. I think it’s a good option for those in small towns and or rural places too. But you are right, both online and in person relationships can be difficult. Thank you Crystal for your comments. 🙂

  6. joannefirth says:

    Great to think about. Once you engage someone and they engage you back it begins. If it is a good rapor with back and forth support or conversation, I say let it ride. If you begin to feel like you are the perpetual cheerleader then perhaps it is time to step back and a. allow people in more, so they can support you when you need it. Or b. take a closer look. Are you always the one to initiate the coversation? Always the one to pull the other one up on a bad day, or during a rough patch? If there is no reciprocation and the friendship is making you unhappy then maybe it’s time to let it go.

    You may be a little bit like me, always wanting to cheer people up and bring some sunshine into their lives. That can’t be possible day after day. It gets to the point that you’ve given all that you can and need something back in order for things to feel balanced. I have a cut off point with people and I am very particular about who I want as a friend. I’ll do anything to help someone but it can be disapointing needing some help and having no one there.

    All I know Caroline, is that you have been there for me, consistantly. You have supported my blog, you have been there when I was sad or having a bad day. You are a great friend. I can only hope that you will call on me to pick you up when you need it. I tend to disapear when I’m not feeling happy, so as not to feel like a burden to anyone. I’m slowly learning to allow myself to receive love and support without a lot of guilt attached to it. It’s a nice feeling. I am also allowing my self to have a real life friend who comes over to chat or have coffee or whatever. That too is giving me confidence about being a friend. It’s a give and take thing. I hope that we will be friends for a long time. You have my addy. Bring it with the TP.

    ❤ Joanne

    • casoly says:

      ❤ You Joanne! Yes, we will be friends for a long time, at least that's my plan! I agree with you, that you have to have some give and take, not just take take take. I love my friends, and I am loathe to give them up, but at some point – sometimes it's necessary. Glad you and I will never have that problem. Love you! :o)

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