Today, for those of you who aren’t giant college basketball dorks, is selection Sunday.
Around dinner time today, the NCAA makes the official bracket for the Division I Men’s college basketball tournament. I love this day. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. And this coming Thursday? Hands down, the best Thursday of the year. It beats Thanksgiving (which I also love, so…)
I love watching upsets. I love watching scrappy underdogs topple powerhouse, perennial ‘basketball schools’ with big money, big media programs. And this is the week that happens. Opening Tourney weekend is my faaaaaaavorite.
Up until the recent past, I loved it so much it even made me *voluntarily social.* Like…like a normal person social.
I filled out a bracket and joined in social rituals with people I barely knew. I went to parties (also, apparently with people I barely knew…I thought I knew the party people…but I was wrong there).
But this year, I’ll be home alone watching the games. I still love them. I love watching 15 seeds beat 2s. That’s my favorite. And we’ve even had a number 1 go down to a 16 seed now. Which was awesome.
For the past three years, March has brought a different kind of madness to me, which is a lot less fun.
Today is also St. Patrick’s Day, so I’ll use that as an example of this new March Madness for me. On St. Patrick’s Day last year, I stopped activity on all of the other social media platforms I have accounts on, except my blog, which had always only been followed by people who never met me (I’ve met a handful of them now…but only once in person still). I mean I totally stopped using other social media. I didn’t delete, but I didn’t log on, I didn’t direct message, I didn’t ‘like’ anything, and I certainly didn’t post or write there.
Before that, I had purposefully been active there *daily,* for almost a year and a half. Only 2 people noticed I’d stopped posting. Or interacting at all.
I wasn’t performing an intentional social experiment (at first). I abandoned those other platforms (I thought at the time, temporarily) because they didn’t serve my mental health and personal goals the way the blog does. But it’s still interesting to me, examining it now.
Because the people who ‘associate’ or ‘interact’ with me on those other platforms ‘know’ me in ‘real life.’ In fact, all of them, at one point in time or another, have shared a meal at the same table with me. All of them at one point in time were in my physical presence on a nearly daily basis for an extended period of time (family, school, work, neighbor…). They all know J and our son personally, and they have multiple other means of contacting me. Many of them have been inside my home. But none of them noticed I’d disappeared from social media activity after over a year of daily posting. And it’s not like they didn’t notice the social media drought because they’re consistently having phone conversations with me or seeing me in person NOW. (BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I hate the phone and I barely leave my house if I can manage it.)
They just don’t notice.
(If you haven’t seen Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex Girlfriend…omigosh, watch it. It’s like The Office meets Hairspray in the best possible ways.)
Here, I’ve connected with people on a much deeper level than I have with anyone I know in my real life, excluding J and our son, and most of you don’t know my real name, the city I live in, or haven’t seen my entire face. But when my blogging activity dropped for a few weeks while J and I were traveling with our family last summer, I got messages from several people who just missed seeing me around. And they didn’t assume something was wrong. In fact, all of them seemed to know something was very, very *right* and that was the reason for the decline in activity. They even said as much.
‘I know you’re traveling and I hope you’re having the best time…’
‘I’m so happy for you that you’re having such a good trip…’
‘I bet this is amazing for you…’
‘*You deserve this.*’
And then follow ups were things like,
‘I’m still checking your blog…’
‘Let’s catch up when you get back…’
‘I miss seeing you around…’
I used to worry about meeting the people I formed connections with here in real life, because I thought knowing me in real life, that something about my realness and tangibility was unattractive and distasteful to the vast majority of other humans, based on the overwhelming indifference I see all around me here in ‘real life.’ But really, it’s just that the people I’ve met here care about me (and other people) the same way I care about other people (and particularly them). They don’t need an assertive, loud, incessantly repeating presence of need to care about someone else. They notice and pay attention to people without the shouting and jumping around and they care.
It can’t be overstated how much I appreciate this. That reciprocation of care. I really don’t get it anywhere else outside of my relationship with J and our son. Thank you so much. For helping me deal with the madness this year, of feeling like no one cares that I exist other than J and the kid we made together. It’s been hard losing ‘friends’ these past few years (or…not losing them, I guess…they were never really there…it’s been pretty bizarre to have a lot of negative ‘realness’ revealed to me on social media, where everyone is supposedly falsely positive). But now I have deeper, more honest friendships (online…I know, right? Crazy.) Long distance, online friends…people who don’t even know what I look like or my real name…can be ‘real.’ They’re more real and more open and more caring than the people who can claim to know ‘the real me.’
Who cares? I do. And you guys do too. That’s pretty rad.
(PS- If any of you lovely folks are watching games on Thursday or Friday and want to chat about it…contact me! I’ll be watching. And maybe jumping up and down and hollering at the television.)
<Originally written and posted in March 2019…but it’s poignant this year since everyone’s friendships have sort of shifted to ‘online’ and ‘long distance.’ They’re still real.>