In the time I've been on Facebook (since one of my friends talked me into creating an account in 2008), I've been able to contact people I knew earlier in life and had wondered about and could find out where their lives had taken them. While that was thrilling at first, reality did settle in quite quickly. Now that I had re-connected to old friends and had exchanged enough data to satisfy my curiosity about how they were, the relationships usually devolved into a sort of gray and lifeless limbo, a highly unsatisfying turn of events, to my mind. I'd rather have no relationship at all than one that is only kept alive by the life support of knowing they are "out there" and we can contact each other whenever we want to, but don't.
It's amazing the amount of stress reduction I've felt after FB deactivation. Also, I do other things with the time I used to spend scrolling through my newsfeed.
But here's one more observation about the duality that relationships take on in the virtual vs. real world:
I have been looking for a new gig. Sick to death of writing for other people, and exhausted from being a freelancer and having to constantly look for new clients, I reached out to my friends and asked if anyone knew of something--anything--that I could do that would get me a paycheck. One of my friends responded that a data entry job had come up in her department. She warned me that the job often requires 10 hours of work per day--and often also on weekends--and that workers are paid by the piece, averaging around $9 an hour.
The fact that I shuddered in horror at the thought of working those kinds of hours for slave wages isn't the point, even if it was a work-from-home job. Even Husband agreed that I couldn't stay sane under those conditions.
The point is that I don't often talk to this particular friend face-to-face, even though she lives just around the corner from me, and so my interactions with her are usually through text messages--and those are infrequent. We usually see each other at church on Sundays, but she works with the children and I work with the adult women, so our paths don't cross there, either, except for the occasional "hello" in the hallways. My relationship with her, therefore, is almost entirely virtual, even if we are friendly with each other in our extremely rare face-to-face conversations.
|If only texting were an aerobic activity.|
It was a day after she had told me about this job, and I was getting more worried that I'd have to take it out of desperation, when another friend called me and told me he had put my name in with a friend of his in the county school district's transportation department, and that I had a job as a district bus driver if I wanted it. Get out of the house for a few hours a day? Check. Drive large vehicles? Check. Satisfy my love of a good road trip (even if it's local)? Check. Get paid far more per hour than data entry and get my CDL for free in the bargain? Check. Obviously, I submitted an application, called them up, and went in for the interview the next day. I'm now their newest trainee substitute bus driver/attendant until I get my CDL and the district approves me as an official driver.
I texted my other friend and thanked her for the job info, but told her I wasn't going to apply. I told her of another of our friends who was looking for physically undemanding work and asked if she'd like to reach out to her, instead. She thanked me for the information and said she'd contact this other woman.
Later that day, I was parked in my usual spot to pick up the afternoon carpool of children from the high school and junior high. This guy who got me the job jumped off his bus and came up to my car window, where we had a face-to-face conversation, and where I thanked him in person for landing me the job. We always joke around with each other, and we had a fun, casual conversation before he had to get back to his bus. A short but highly satisfying exchange. He reminds me a bit of my dad. I have only ever texted him about this job. Otherwise, our relationship is all face-to-face.
Yesterday, at church, I had the opportunity to lead the singing time for the children. The woman who told me about the data entry job was the pianist. I interacted with her through the duration of the singing time about the music, but it wasn't until after I got home from church that it struck me that during that interaction, I had entirely forgotten that she is also the same woman who told me about the data entry job. In my head, I have totally compartmentalized my virtual relationship and my face-to-face relationship with her. The compartmentalization is so effective that I fail to remember that both of those relationships are with the same person.
I wonder how I even have any friends who will talk to me at all? I forget, when I'm talking to them in person, that we have this other relationship that is virtual, and vice versa. In my subconscious, the two relationships are with two separate individuals, even if I know, consciously, that they are one and the same person. I realize that I don't even meld the two worlds of our relationships: I don't mention things to them in person that we have discussed via email or text message, especially if that is our primary form of communication.
Does that make sense? Am I the only one who has developed this psychological dichotomy between real and virtual relationships? Is it any wonder why I had such a rage issue with Facebook?
Ah, the endless psychological wonder that is our brave new world of virtual interaction!
|This would be my favorite cafe.|