Screaming into the void

Posted on 13.05.2012

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I had an interesting thought tonight, as I sat reading a short story from Kyler James. I was thinking about how nice it is that the internet exists and about my life before it. I was thinking, how nice that I could contact Kyler and ask him a question, and get a response in under an hour. The man lives in New York and I’ve only met him once. And there he was, in realtime, responding to me. What a wonderful, connected world.

The same world that allowed me to get to know my boyfriend long distance for the better part of a year, in which I spoke to him online with video more than I spoke to my own family. The same world that allows me to now email with my childhood penpal. The same world where just about any video you could imagine is available online and ready for viewing (except all of the ones I wanted to post at the bottom, it seems).

I had a few thoughts. I thought it would be nice to return the favor and share a short story of mine with him. I thought it would be nice to share his story with others (and I’ve done that, here). And then I thought about what it would mean if the internet was gone tomorrow. Just gone.

Would we feel lonely, or relieved? A little bit of both?

Lately I’ve felt like I’ve been living my entire life online. My communications are online. My phone calls are online. My thoughts are blogged online, even if I speak them to people who happen to be in my vicinity. Last week and the week before, as I was literally dying for some form of contact, I felt like some kind of ghost… just an entity on the internet. It was a very ‘Ghost in the Shell’ kind of feeling, to think that my friends have access to me whenever they want: all they have to do is get online and click ‘send’, and I’ll see it and respond. But do I really exist to them, outside of the shit they see and read from me on the internet? I could be anyone, doctoring photos and continuing a story.

I was upset because of the time difference. That was what did me in: here I was, begging people for skype time, and if I actually got a response, for the most part we couldn’t even find a time to meet online that fit into our schedules.

I feel like my move to Germany really severed a lot of relationships. I’ll admit that I was happy about some of that, at first… to be ‘rid’ of all of those people who only ever called me when they needed something, or to complain. It was GREAT to be done with them, aside from a random comment here and there on FB. But I’ve felt, lately, like my better relationships were kind of cut off, too.

It might have been the loneliness kicking in, but I thought about specific people and how close I used to be to them. The friend I’d meet at least once a month for a chai latte at Donna’s. The other friend I’d meet up with for drinks regularly at Teavolve. My teachers. My Baltimore and DC friends. My drawing partner. My clients. I used to talk to these people all the time, and now it’s just a bunch of likes and comments on FB. And I miss them more than I can handle most of the time. It’s all I can do to keep myself distracted with work, or the few people here, etc.

And really, thank goodness for fucking Facebook or social networking sites like it in general… Thank goodness that we AT LEAST have that. I shudder to think about what we’d have (what I’d have) if it were not around. Would we even stay in touch? I’d have carpal tunnel from writing letters. A high phone bill from calling everyone, and no life since I’d be on the phone all day just to erase the homesickness that I feel for these people.

It was a depressing idea at that point, to think that I only have a fraction of my ‘friends” contact information stored in my phone. And most of that info is email addresses, since I generally don’t call the US too often. How many people would I just lose contact with, if the internet were to break down? To disappear?

The answer is ‘too many’. I think I’m lonely now, but it wouldn’t even be comparable.

I think I need to start writing letters. I think physical things need to exist. I wonder if I have the time or the strength to write one letter, every day. I’m considering it. It’s the complete opposite of being green, and I’m considering it.

I don’t know what I need to do to erase this feeling. I can’t do it on my own. I think it will need to be two-sided. But how can one herd cats? ‘Dear friends, in order to alleviate my homesickness for you, I request that you take time from your busy schedules to write me letters whenever you can’? Come on. We’re all digital for a reason. Even if I could swing it, I wouldn’t expect it of everyone. I know my schedule is far less stressful than anyone I know’s on the other side of the Atlantic.

I need to stop screaming into the void and expecting to get a response, though. Or, more to the point, I need to stop screaming into the void and expecting to hear or read what I want/need in return. I guess no one knows what you want from them unless you tell them. But I don’t want to make unreasonable requests. That’s not how I roll.

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Posted in: life