To anyone who reads what I write because it’s funny (it’s not), or technically interesting (I hope it can be sometimes), this blog post isn’t really for you. It’s the kind of long-form drama bomb I’d hoped I was long done with, way back in high school. And while I don’t want anyone to feel they can’t or shouldn’t read it, as I’m posting it for anyone to read, I simply say you won’t get any comedy or knowledge here. You’re warned.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been avoiding making much of a public fuss. I’ve tried to avoid posting anywhere that an average person might see. And I think it’s time I mentioned why, if only so I can feel I’ve said my piece and can move on. This piece alone has been sitting in my drafts for over a week. It’s about time.
I don’t completely cut people out of my life. At least, that’s what I think to myself. In the course of my procrastination, and social ineptitude, I often let friendships slowly fall by the wayside, and eventually dissipate. But that’s not really what I’m talking about, and we all knew that. What I’m talking about is what people commonly do on various web sites when they’ve decided people have slipped too far from “good person” to “bad person”, and they not only need to sever ties, but do so loudly and publicly.
This may be a curious outgrowth of the phenomenon of the Social Graph as it currently exists in the world. Even all those people I’ve forgotten to call, they still remain, to the broader hive mind, as steadfast a friend as the ones I continually trust with the quiet personal despair that makes up my internal monologue. This is a bizarre environment which we’re all still figuring out; it was never more completely described that I’ve seen than in the post by Pinboard’s author Maciej Cegłowski, “The Social Graph is Neither“. When I stop talking to someone for whatever reason, they remain my Facebook friend, my Twitter follower, my LinkedIn colleague.
So, what does this have to do with my current absence? When I say I don’t cut people out, it means I don’t take actions to tell people I no longer want anything to do with them. In my most passive manner possible, I simply try very hard to no longer be where those people are. But I can’t just do that anymore, in this globally-connected world. There’s no “there” there, it’s everywhere. The old ways no longer work.
So, for the questioning minds, I will simply explain the following. In my life, I’ve intentionally cut off complete contact with only three people. Only one of them was because they hurt me. The other two hurt other people, and with relish, for their own gains. I have an almost insurmountable volume of personal abuse, extreme anxiety, and pain I’ll go through for someone I consider a friend. But I can’t abide someone turning that same abuse on others, particularly strangers.
And it isn’t easy for me to simply sever ties with someone. It’s painful. It’s painful because I always want people to like me, and I know that no one will after you tell them you can’t be bothered with them. It’s painful because I do want to help friends be better people, and I know I’m failing if I completely disconnect from their life. It’s painful, too, for the very selfish reason of pride: I’ve fancied myself an impervious judge of character, and such things as this serve at least the small purpose of humbling that feeling in me.
So, it’s a painful process cutting someone out. And so I make no fanfare, I do not announce to the world that it’s time for some “spring cleaning” on Facebook, and I don’t yell at people or give them diatribes for why I don’t want to be their friend anymore, because it’s not fun or a cause for celebration. I know nobody who’s not the friend being cut out cares who I’m friends with and wants to be told I’m doing this. And I know that, if my opinions mattered to the people I called friends before, those opinions would have been sought, and heeded. If my opinions were compatible with those people’s, things would not have wound up this way.
So, I will play this tune. It’s not a fanfare, it’s a slow, sad, meandering solo in the night. It doesn’t explain everything, for sure, because it’s a private matter and I don’t want to share it. But I won’t be chased from the places I feel comfortable because there are people who might not like me there, or who think I’m shallow for not standing by them in the hour their darkness turned outward on the world. I know there’s a reason that people do the things they do, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Acknowledgement that this suffering has external influences informs my desire to be more lenient on everyone, even the criminals among us. But there’s a difference between being compassionate towards someone whose rough life has made them hateful and harmful to others, and inviting that person into your world and life.
I’m sorry that it hurts the people it hurts, but I cannot be friends with absolutely anyone, unconditionally. And that’s about all I have to say about that.
I’ve disabled comments on this post. Normally I want to know people have read what I’ve written, and want their feedback. This time, I’d just rather let my words be my words on their own.