Is Real Really Real - 10.16.00

Although it hasn't become something I'd consider to be a major problem, I have noticed something lately that has thrown me for a bit of a loop when I start to sit and think about it. Sometimes lately, instead of hanging out with friends and doing whatever (seeing a movie, etc), I'll find myself declining so I can come home and work on my computer. There are several elements to this equation, and it's not the face value of the statement.

One of the big factors in this statement is my mood lately. It seems that whenever fall starts rolling around and the leaves are falling off the trees, I not only start listening to more and more depressing music, but I tend to pull away socially a bit and start spending more time with myself. I tried to explain it in a piece awhile back, so I'll just leave it at that.

Anyway, the point of this piece isn't about the fall or even about myself being more of a hermit, because those things both simply happen to be facts right now. The thing I'm trying to get at is that even though I've generally recently felt like I've had some of the best friendships of my life, I also am constantly analyzing them and I realize that out of everyone I know pretty well, nobody knows me really well. Sure, there are people I would tell certain things to, and spread out over maybe 3 different people I feel like I can divulge everything I need to in someone. The interesting thing is that I don't have that one person I feel like I could tell anything to.

Now, the second part of this equation makes things a little bit more interesting, and that is that there are a couple people whom I speak with by e-mail that I do feel like I could tell anything to. I've never met them before in my life and although they all live several hundred miles away from me, I don't feel uncomfortable or shy when I tell them different things I've been thinking about lately that I wouldn't be as open in sharing with some friends (and likewise, I'm pretty sure I've been told some of the same things).

The first thing I'd like to say about this is that it's a very testament to internet itself that such things are able to happen. Unfortunately when some people think about the internet, all they can muster in their minds is a hazy image of people trying to hook up for illicit liasons or where high-schoolers go to look up recipes for blowing up their school. I'd like to say that for every 1000 (and probably more) of those, however, there are people like me and the people that I speak with who are having truly interesting and even very affirming conversations.

In that way, it's kind of a new and exciting place for people who are a little bit more shy (like myself). While the people I've had these discussions with seem like very nice people and I would like to meet them at some point in the future, part of the reason that we probably feel so comfortable with one another is that buffer zone. Instead of having to talk with someone face to face and worry about stumbling over words or shy about what you're saying, you simply write an e-mail and send it on its way. The hardest part of the whole thing is hitting the send button and wondering whether you've just disclosed too much information about yourself. Even when that happens, though, there is still that buffer zone of knowing that if you don't want to, you never have to meet the person whom you've aired out so many of your thoughts to.

When I originally started writing this piece, I was trying to sort of ask a question of myself as to whether this was bad or not. I think that over the course of the piece, I would try to decide whether I was forsaking real human interaction for something that most people would consider "not real" because the only connection was through writing by e-mail. In the end, though, it still is human interaction. There's another person at the other end who has to write down their thoughts, worries, and feelings and put themselves as much on the line as you are. Granted, there's always the chance that they could be lying or whatever else, but that's not something that is strictly limited to talking with someone via e-mail.

In the end, I think that the main thing for me is to keep up real life social interaction and try to figure out just what I'm doing wrong in the friendships that I have (or where I stand in the friendships with people) and try to keep a healthy balance between the two.