9 Dec 2013

Nobody's Girl (Part 2)

I befriended total strangers from the Facebook groups and communities I had joined, and around a common passion we built a rapport. I wouldn't call it friendship, just exchanging a polite comment or two, clicking a 'like' on their page or promoting their business to the rest of the crew. No high expectations, no disappointment to be had, no shared history and other luggage. It actually made it easy for me to make friends with those. One was a talented Africa-based wildlife photographer, another was a shark advocate biologist from South Africa, another an interiors designer from NYC, there was also a motivational business coach from Australia. All in all, these people weren't gonna be the cause for my exasperation and FB PBs (Problems)! I was gonna be the cause - my own best/ worst ennemy.

Crystal Renn for Vogue Mexico, April 2011, photo by David Roemer (Pict source)

As weird as it may seem, my problems were going to stem off my snooping on my 'real friends' and in pure drama queen stylee, escalate till they made me ill. Real friends: we share common history, we are invested in the relationship on one level or another, we may have vested interest in that relationship, and besides it is hard not to have (high) expectations off them. High expectations invariably lead to disappointment and resentment. You get it.

FB brings to light areas of our friends' personalities we might have chosen to ignore, given the choice, things that had actually been staring you in the face all along until they got splashed out for all to see, like, share, comment upon or ridicule.

I know me. I know what I'm like. Especially whenever feeling bored and lonely. Start clicking on those friends' profiles and examine them carefully, look at them photos and read them captions, and hop off a tangent to their own circle of friends, and repeat the process. Before I care to realise, I am playing detective, piecing together bits of info, clues, codenames and links to achieve 'the bigger picture', a distorted Grail of truths and untruths - and misunderstandings galore! These findings - no matter how true - won't make me a happy bunny.

Lost and found again... Britney Spears (Pict source)

Then I go back to my FB page to find out that my witty quip only got one 'like', and this wasn't even from one of my fave friends! Then I notice that a friend posted a naff acronym as brief as 'WTF!' and straight away gets 15 'likes' and half a dozen comments! Yeah, FB hardly rewards the Shakesperian-inclined. The closer to trash TV you stand, the better you stand a chance to be noticed.

Then my obsession turned to resentment. I thought, I believed, that so-and-so would love that music tune from back in the party days but nope! Besides it looked like everyone else on FB was having the time of their lives, whizzing a quick update between parties, accessorised with the best arm candy in town, while I - poor I - was stuck on my laptop still trying to figure out who had got lucky with whom... Nat, it was time to get a grip, for goodness sake! I am no teenage wallflower, I'm actually old enough to be her mum and know better!

I'd wanted out for a long time already, realised I had been unable to pace and trust myself with it, unable not to get my imagination into overdrive, caught in paranoia and a drama I'd created for myself. FB made me ill.

Vintage Rotary Phone, via Anthropologie

Then a seemingly insignificant caption finally nailed it for me, after I had unsuccessfully tried to distance myself from FB. Randomly snooping, I found out that a male friend had posted a photo of some girl he fancied and captioned it 'She's my girl'. And this had an effect on me. I came to the realisation that everyone in that circle had (or seemed to have) someone special, that mattered to them, no matter what.

In the stark light of my computer screen, I came to the realisation that - on the contrary - I was nobody's girl and this had been staring me in the face for a long time - as clear as you can get. And sadly my self-love and self-esteem had brittled away with it. I came to realise that I'd been hoping to be noticed, cared about, loved, made to feel special. To matter. Suddenly it felt like no-one gave a f**k, so I might as well deactivate that account and no-one will even notice.

October had been a stressful month for me for other reasons, and one night I decided to stop FB from taking over my life and erode my self-worth any further. I unfriended a pack of so-called friends and then I deactivated the goddamn thing. I felt better instantly. Relieved. Off the delete tsunami, I reconnected with someone who showed their concern.

Twinkle, Little Star! (Pict source)

Meanwhile I am not ruling out that I won't reactivate my FB account in the near future - but this will only happen when I feel ready and in control - rather than controlled by it! Until then, I will happily stay away. Social networking has brought to the fore the fragility and ambiguity of friendship. It has also brought to the fore the fact that true friendship should not rely upon the likes of FB or Twitter & Co. in order to thrive, nor should social media dictate the value and depth of a friendship.

As for being Nobody's Girl, I'll take that back. A girl, whatever her status - single, married, divorced or widowed - is not nobody's girl. In fact, she cannot be nobody's girl. She is somebody's girl. She is hers, herself, her own. She comes into her own by being her own girl. You'll never walk alone again once you've realised that you have yourself by your side. Stand proud and walk the line!

4 comments:

  1. Heh. I nuked my FB account several years ago. The friends thing was just about absurd, as "friends" of "friends" of..., well, you know, kept "friending" me. Do I know these folks, or, do they know me? No. Will we ever meet and really have that time to become friends? Probably not. Like-. Like-, Like-it or not, there are really few friends in this life, the type you can trust and count on in the best and worst of times, and the rest get pretty speedily grouped as acquaintances. The FB crowd even falls short of the latter; but as you said, there can be exceptions. So, I'm glad that you reconnected with someone who shared your values/insights while you were there. I got to FB by a real world friend posting some photos of his kids there and and had no alternate reason for being there, really.

    And of course we are individuals with real world desires and wishes. Perhaps some sort of vacancy is forestalled by the lonely who use SNWing in such a way. I'd rather offer myself in volunteering in a local social program than pressing buttons to achieve that, if that were the case and the option presented itself. Otherwise, life goes on through self-actualizing and fears retreat from us when we view the infinite beauty of life rather than the self-imposed infinity of loneliness.

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    1. Totally agree, Rob! To the fragility and ambiguity of the notion of friendship as it is promoted by social media, we should add its fickleness. Friends one day, foes the next - at a click of a button and often without one valid reason. As cowardly callous as being dumped by a 'loved one' by SMS or tweet...

      Mother Teresa once said that THE 20th century disease was (is) loneliness. Ironically the wonders of technology aimed at bringing people closer together have failed to eradicate loneliness. Instead they have only emphasised it under false pretences, by quantifying popularity and 'friendability' purely in mathematical form. Hence the higher the number of 'friends' you score on your FB page, the more popular and lovable you must be. No wonder social media is turning anti-social.

      Yet indeed there is a life to be lived outside the confines of the online world, a life that needs to be lived out there... in the real world! Thanks again for your comment! :-)

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  2. http://historicalunderbelly.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/erich-fromm-the-sane-society.pdf

    Erich Fromm's, "The Sane Society" (1955). Though dated seemingly more relevant today than when written. I sensed that there might be some kernels for you to discover within, if you find the time to read it, of course. Ciao! RJK

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  3. Just a quick update... I've started reading your recommendation (The Sane Society), insightful and interesting indeed! Will need to put aside more quiet time in order to fully appreciate it (which is a tad tricky currently with Christmas upon us). "Bah! Humbug!"

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