Recently I’ve grown aware of the fact that the internet is fueling inside me a quiet desperation paired with a low smoldering rage. And I don’t think that’s good. Of course by “internet” I don’t mean the whole thing, although there would be some truth in saying it’s eroding my quality of life in subtle ways. But in other ways it’s been liberating, so I won’t throw the baby out with the bath water….
Or I should say, I’m keeping the bathwater and throwing out the baby. The baby would be facebook. Why facebook? Well here goes a rant: As people who know me may be aware (and one friend pretty insensitively posted on my “wall”), I’m obsessed with the concept of friendship, and the state of having friends. I’m probably not professionally qualified to judge exactly what it is in my psyche that’s got me tweaked about it all, but I’ll take a stab. I’m indulging myself by posting this here because I think there may be evidence that it is something common to many men my age, and may soon become a mass cultural phenomenon. My evidence?
The movie I Love You Man, about a guy who doesn’t have any guy friends close enough to be his best man at his wedding. There have been others that hint at similar problems, although I think this is a first to make it the central theme. So the phenomenon I’m inventing here is dudes in their 30s who don’t have guy friends. I’ll add “who don’t have many real friends” to that, just because it’s likely the dude with only gal friends has probably slept with many of them, and as I’m coming to understand myself, that leaves certain snags in the relationship which prevent the friendship from being as carefree and rewarding as I fantasize about them being.
Anyway, I don’t think I understand what real friendship is. Because I have very very few deep friendships that stand up to any sort of stress. In fact if I were to be totally honest, I’d have to say I don’t think I have any. But maybe I actually do and I just don’t know what that means. Here’s the thing, Facebook lets me see that there are tons of people who I would love to be spending time with who are having parties and doing things together without me. And it’s KILLING me. But this isn’t anything new to me. I seem to have always had a hard time getting friends to consistently include me in plans.
My mother always said that I should be more active and invite people to things instead. Which has planted the seed of self blame which has matured and borne tons of fruit. Fruit in the form of neuroses, fears, suspicions, anger, dejection, etc, etc, blah blah. Because she has a point. I don’t make plans. Because I mean who likes rejection?! In fact I DO make plans and they are always rejected. But then again it’s not like I try very hard. I’m scared shitless by the thought of picking up a phone and asking some dude if he wants to hang. So shitless that if I get voicemail I leave a half-assed vague message (or sometimes very specific, but passive, like “I’ll be at the Cake Shop tonight for a show, what’s up?”) and leave it at that. Or the mass text asking what’s going on this weekend. People seem to never respond to those. The thing is that I would respond. I would respond to every single query by a friendly acquaintance (I need a word for friends you can’t fully depend on but like to see) as to what my plans may or may not be, and generally would welcome their attendance. So I feel like it’s ok for me to do it too; and feel bad when no one answers.
A would-be friend recently told me, when I straight up asked her why she hadn’t invited me to a potluck dinner at her place, that I wasn’t on her A-list and would have to try harder to hang out with her more before I could expect that kind of participation in her life. The problem with that is I take that seriously (and I had been trying, in fact). I feel like it’s my fault she didn’t want me there (2 closer friends of mine were there). So where does that leave me? Desperately trying to do the right things that will make people want to invite me to their stupid birthday parties and dinner parties and concerts on facebook. And feeling crushed when I’m not. Even though I know that I’m both expecting way too much from people and giving far too little.
In the meantime I’m going to attempt to not visit facebook except to answer emails. Good luck with that, me.
This is a fascinating article on friendship from some BBC magazine.
Where I go to figure out what I’ll be doing alone this weekend.