At the middle school meeting J and I had to go to last week, we saw a couple we hadn’t seen in person in…hell…7 years? (Wow. It was 7 years.)
These folks have my phone number (and not everyone has my phone number). And they live less than 5 miles from us; they’ve been to our house before and we’ve been to theirs. Their kids are obviously in the same middle school district as The Boy…we’re THAT geographically close. They are ‘friends’ with J and me on social media, which is the main way they’ve kept track of our family for the past 7 years. J has never been active on social media. He’s just not that guy. There are often times I wish I’d never been active on social media, but for years, I was, and for 2 of the last 3 years, I was REALLY active. Then, I stopped, because it felt like screaming into the void, and unlike blogging, with other forms of social media, the void never acknowledged what I screamed. I felt more disconnected than I felt connected, which is what I thought social media was supposed to be about, and I sure don’t need any help feeling disconnected, so…I mean…I unplugged. My account is still there, but I don’t engage it. I don’t post there. I’m invisible. I haven’t made a post on my social media accounts OTHER than blogging since early February, and for the previous YEAR before that, my usage was sporadic at best. No one sent a message there or tried to reach me some other way, even though many of the folks there have access to other means of contacting me, to check why I’d stopped activity. Honestly, for all they know, I’d died. For real.
But as soon as this couple saw us in person, the wife (the more vocal and social of the pair) exclaimed, ‘Where’d you GO?’ to me. I mean, she seemed sincere that she’d noticed my social media absence.
But I didn’t answer her, because I don’t have a simple answer to that question that doesn’t sound nasty. The truth is, I haven’t gone anywhere. I barely leave my house. We haven’t moved towns. We haven’t changed phone numbers. I haven’t even deleted that social media account. I’m still all the places I’ve always been, as far as she was concerned.
What prompted me to write this post…what I find utterly bizarre is…why didn’t she (or anyone else for that matter) ask after me before that chance, in-person encounter when I was literally right in her face? I mean, I get that people have lives and that I’m not the top of anyone but J’s and maybe The Boy’s priority lists, and that’s fine with me. I actually like my life that way. But…if she truly missed my online presence, why didn’t she send a quick message? Make a note to call me? Hell, send me a card in the snail mail…she has my home address? Why do people do this kind of stuff when it comes to human connection? Why do we set it aside? Why do we only think about and reach out to people when they are literally right in front of us, usually making eye contact?
I mean, I admit I’m shit at reaching out to people when I think about them, but I do think about them. Often. I’m constantly thinking about other people. And that actually is a part of why *I* don’t contact people each time I think of them. I’m afraid of making a pest of myself. I always feel like I’m bothering people. That’s a predisposition to social anxiety, pronounced introversion, and decades of operant conditioning born from the feedback I received communicating with other people, culminating in Weirdo Me, but I know for SURE this woman doesn’t suffer with social anxiety in any form and to any degree. And I know most people don’t. So…why does everyone else not reach out when they think of someone? When they’re concerned about someone? When they miss hearing from someone or seeing someone in a familiar place and don’t already know an explanation? That’s a mystery I’d honestly like to solve, so if any of you have any thoughts and ideas, I’d love to hear them.