Ever since this social isolation stuff began, I’ve noticed people are hanging out even more on social media. I run a Facebook group for food and wine and we’ve had a surge of new members. Why? Because people are sitting at home, drinking a lot… cooking a lot… and probably gaining weight.
For the most part, it’s been alright to hang out on Facebook even more than usual. I have noticed, though, that some people may think of Facebook friends as appearing closer than they actually are. Sometimes social media turns into a substitute for actual friendships.
Don’t get me wrong. There are people I have “met” online that I consider real friends. Hell, I was friends with Bill for 18 months, having met him online. He truly was a friend to me during a time when I needed a friend… and he needed a friend. We chatted every day and got to be very close, even though we hadn’t met offline. I never thought I’d ever meet him, though, let alone marry him. And then there are people I have met offline and been friends with on Facebook who turn out to be people who fade away…
I did read a rather sad comment from someone this morning, though, which has inspired today’s post. This guy decided to go to the grocery store on his bike, and announced it on his Facebook page. He asked his friends for prayers. No one responded. He came back from the store and wrote:
“Nobody responded to my bike post yesterday — and I literally almost died. Thank you so much for your concern…“
I sense a bit of sadness and disgust in that post. I suspect this dude is kind of lonely. I have never met him before. He’s someone Bill knows from his adolescent days. In fact, this guy was someone who knew Bill when he got run over by his “friend’s” Subaru Brat. I’ve written this story before, but because I don’t have anything else to do and some readers might be curious, here’s what happened…
When Bill was sixteen years old, he was hanging out with some buddies. They were all drinking beer. One of his friends had a girlfriend who was doing that usual teen angst shit that teenaged girls are so good at. She stormed off, and her boyfriend, who owned a Subaru Brat (basically an ugly car with a bed like that of a pickup truck), got behind the wheel. Bill had gotten a ride with them, so he went to clamber into the back of the car. His friend didn’t see him, and started backing up as Bill was trying to mount. Bill lost his footing in the gravel and slipped under the car. His friend backed over him. The rear tire went right over Bill’s chest.
After a week in the hospital with a collapsed lung and extremely bloody eyes, Bill was released relatively unscathed. He does have a bit of arthritis in the area that was injured. A couple of his discs were crushed. He also says he had a near death experience. I believe him when he tells me that, because Bill is an unusually empathetic person. He’s very much in touch with God.
Anyway… ever since then, people have called him Mr. Bill… including me. Even people who don’t know what happened to him try to be clever by sharing a picture of Mr. Bill on social media. This was a thing on Saturday Night Live. He kind of sounds like Towelie on South Park. It’s kind of funny to watch this. The world was a lot more dangerous back in the 70s and 80s. Interestingly enough, Mr. Bill was created by a guy who responded for a request from Saturday Night Live to send in home movies.
So anyway… where was I. I got sidetracked by Mr. Bill…
Facebook offers a facade of closeness that doesn’t actually exist. Because so many people use it, you may find yourself connecting with people you’d never meet… or ever even want to meet. And people think they know you, but they don’t. So sometimes, you might feel slighted when you reach out on social media, hoping for prayers or whatever, and no one responds. The fact is, without social media, you might not have a connection anyway. I doubt I’d know Bill’s former classmate if he hadn’t decided to friend me on Facebook.
And while I don’t wish Bill’s friend ill, I don’t actually know him well enough to care about whether or not he goes to the store. I don’t think I ever even saw his post, but if I had, I probably wouldn’t have prayed for him. I don’t pray for most people. It’s not something I do. I completely missed that he posted this, though…
“Good morning all!
Later on this morning I am going to get on my 18 speed mountain bike (which I haven’t done for about 10 years) and ride over to the grocery with back-pack and mental list! I have been told I should wear a mask — thing is I look odd as it is! Will you guys lift up a prayer for my safety, please? Thanks & God bless.“
I can tell he was disappointed that no one responded. Sometimes, I’ve been disappointed in responses from other people, too. I try to remind myself that most of them are strangers. It hurts more when people I actually know or am related to ignore me. Then I realize that they have lives, just like I do. Most of my stuff just isn’t as interesting to other people as it is to me. And social media is, by and large, a facade. The real stuff happens offline. But then… maybe for some people, being online is less painful than dealing with reality offline.
On the other hand, I’ve been watching Desperate Housewives again. It’s a very entertaining show. I’m still on season one. Felicity Huffman’s character, Lynette Scavo, wants to get her kids into a private school and she mentions paying $15,000 as a “donation” to up her chances. That episode was from 2004 or 2005… interesting how art imitates real life sometimes. Years later, Huffman “donated” $15,000 to improve her daughter’s SAT scores. She ended up doing time in a federal prison.
Maybe this social isolation is getting to me. Hopefully, it won’t last too much longer, although my next door neighbor seems to be ignoring it. She’s had people over for the past three nights.
2 thoughts on “Facebook is a lonely place…”
I don’t get out much even without mandated isolation, but I am seeing a wide range of coping mechanisms. Some folks are doing well and others not so much. I have been in touch with friends more recently at a greater rate than usual so it seems I have social needs, too. I am not crazy about social media, but I still check Facebook for a few minutes every couple of days. I used to let it suck me in and found it to be an enormous time waster. Still, it is a way to stay in touch with some friends and relatives.
Great Mr. Bill story, too.
I think some people are going to really have trouble. Personally, I don’t mind being a hermit. I get plenty of interaction on my blog. One thing I have noticed since I moved it is that the people who read it are genuinely interested and not just driving by or stalking.
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