I’ve always been borderline between being an introvert and being an extrovert, which means that while I enjoy being social, I have absolutely no stamina for it. I get bored, I reach out, and inevitably I start craving the comfort of my own company. It’s a weird space to inhabit and it causes me to do nonsensical things like keep an open personal blog without sharing it with anyone I know.
I’m trying to start taking more risks with people.
Years ago when I was new to Facebook and new to adulthood, I spent hours trying to curate a perfect online image. I didn’t care about popularity as much as staying true to a polished version of myself. Since then, I’ve learned, or I am learning, and no one really cares that much. It’s useless trying to make the world fall in love with you through a screen because the people who love you already do, and unless it’s an online dating site, there really aren’t that many people out there trolling for a lovable profile. People have better things to do. Better, then, to keep on spending time doing things that you enjoy and let that filter through online to connect you to people with similar interests. I mean, isn’t that what this is all about? But somewhere along the way I and millions of others have gotten lost and decided that socializing was an means to itself. We make friends to make more friends and when it blows over, this house of cards, you stand alone in the ruin of a hollow empire.
That was my first basic realization and it caused me to pull away from social media altogether. I couldn’t trust my new friends, most of whom should have been earmarked as acquaintances but who, though a simple online request, now became privy to all of my conversations, and me, theirs. And then a funny thing happened. Rather than immediately shutting it all down, I decided to detach. I would participate in your social media games, I decided, but I would ignore the bonds that it creates, so acquaintances on the fast track to becoming friends stopped short and stayed as acquaintances. I stopped trusting online friendships, and so I stopped making them, and eventually I just stopped trying to make new friends. The world became this transient place where individual lives would bump into each other temporarily, straighten themselves out, and then be on their way.
If I sound like a loner and a complete misanthrope, know that it really wasn’t that way. I still had friends and kept making friends the old fashioned way, through people who I met and worked with and by introductions to friends of friends. I stayed my same, borderline social self, offline.
And then this totally weird thing happened.
A few weeks ago I ran into this almost acquaintance, someone from my past who I had noticed but was either to chicken or too apathetic to meet properly, and, if we’re being honest here, it was probably both. We introduced ourselves, and casually talked about maybe potentially meeting at some event in the future. We didn’t make plans, we didn’t have a love connection and we didn’t even speak for that long. I assumed that was that and resumed life. I found him on Facebook and friended him because that’s what I’m wont to do, as a casual collector of acquaintances. And then a few days later, he reached out to me, just a tendril of extended friendship.
I was astounded. We don’t have strong things in common, or if we do, we don’t know them yet. He’s married, so neither of us are seeking a romantic attachment. We don’t have shared goals. We have no reason to be friends other than for friendship itself.
So, I’m trying something new and something so old that I’ve forgotten it.
I’m going to try to make new friends.