August 26, 2005
Rich (f.k.a. Cornelius) and Amanda have been talking about friendships (specifically what makes them end), and they've got me thinking about it too. So I'll follow Rich's lead and put my thoughts down here rather than leaving long-winded comments in other people's space. Maybe it's just my homesickness that's making me think about these things right now; maybe it's finding myself alone in a new place where I don't know anyone, but I feel like I know a bunch of people already because I read their blogs.
I was dumped by a friend this past year, possibly because of something I did or said although I haven't been able to figure out what it is that I did. I got the sense that it was related to my weblog somehow, but I didn't write anything there that would potentially lead to dumpage. I was busy with my studio work and wasn't seeing this person as often as I had been. She left some nasty, abusive comments on my blog and stopped speaking to me. After I heard that she had shit-talked me to a few friends, I dropped it and stopped trying to figure out what was bugging her, because it just felt too much like high school--I'm old enough to be the mother of a child in high school, and don't wish to act like one. But I miss her, and I wish we were still friends.
Other friendships have drifted away over the years, not from one party deliberately walking away, but from both of us just letting the other slip away. Some of those people I miss, others not so much. I've never been the kind of person who has a lot of close friends, and many of my personal relationships have been the kind that it is easy to let slip. And yet some of my closest relationships are with people that I rarely see; this year was the first time I have ever spent time with Merouda away from Pennsic, but I love her more dearly than many people in my life.
Rich and Amanda say that they have never walked away from a friendship; they have always been the dumpee. I have been the dumper, once, when I thought it was necessary for my own self-preservation. When I moved away from my hometown it was to save myself from the drunken loser drop-out lifestyle I had fallen into; I hated my high school and was ready to quit (partly because most of my friends were older, and had dropped out of school). Instead I moved away, screened my calls to avoid all my old friends (most notably D, who had been my closest chum) and started a new life. I felt that in order to not give up my future like I felt my friends had done, I had to cut off all contact. It's been seventeen years, and I've only started to talk to D again in the last six months or so.
I've been thinking about the difference between real life relationships and those we establish on the internet. Since I started my weblog last September, I've met a remarkable number of great people all over the world, some of whom I think of as real friends even though I've never met them. Of course, some of those online relationships will carry over into real life; Sandy and Bob are "real" friends now, to both me and Peter, and I'll be having lunch with Carrieoke on Monday. But why do I feel like it's easier to maintain relationships on the internet, when I can't be arsed to send an e-mail to my real life friends as often as I should? Perhaps it's just safer; we don't have to share any more of ourselves than we want to, and it's easier to walk away. Still, I get the sense that some of the people out there that I may never meet in the flesh would not unceremoniously dump me like my "real" friend did.
Posted by jodi at August 26, 2005 11:48 AM | categories: self-absorbtion
It really is easier to maintain relationships online. With the exception of three friends, I feel like my online friends know me better than most of "real" friends. It's definitely easier to share more about yourself online, and maybe that's why we're more confident about our online relationships; we've actually invested more into getting to other people and letting them get to know the real us.
Posted by: Amanda at August 26, 2005 01:00 PM
Perhaps it's because online friendships are purely based on thoughts and words. You think before you say anything and then someone responds in their own time and it's like one mind talking to another. Maybe a bit more intense.
Friendships in "real life" aren't like this because you have to find a mutually convenient time to meet up and do things together, and you have to observe social chit-chat rules, talk about the weather, etc, before you can talk about the things that really matter.
When you write things it's somehow clearer and people listen more. Sometimes when I've got something important to say, I find that a letter or e-mail works better than a face-to-face talk. My partner is working a long way from home at the moment and I actually find it easier to use the messenger to talk about the problems we are having. One person says something, then the other has time to think before responding rather than getting upset. We can cover a lot more ground that way.
Or maybe it's just because the internet offers a lot more variety of people to meet and you have the opportunity to talk to people who really share a kinship with you, rather than trying to choose the most like-minded people from the smaller selection that's around you geographically.
As you can see, I don't have my own blog to ramble on in! But I really like yours. Homesickness is awful. Hope you feel better soon.
Posted by: Roberta at August 26, 2005 01:45 PM
I agree with what Roberta and Amanda said. You also have to consider in your daily life, you don't meet that many people you would want to establish a friendship with. On the internet, the available "pool" is much larger and it's more conducive to finding people with like minds, interests, etc. (or people who are different enough to intrigue :)).
I've been reading your entries about your homesickness and missing Pete and have struggled with what I could say (or write). There's nothing that can be done to alleviate the pain. It's yours and nothing I say could really take that pain away. But, that said, we are here whenever you need us - to write to, talk to, hang out, spin with, knit with and get drunk on sangria.
Posted by: Sandy at August 26, 2005 01:59 PM
What a thoughtful post! Often people forget that friendships are relationships and while they are not as passionate as romantic relationships, there is still a lot of work involved and at times, you might drift away or "break" up. Breaking up in a friendship is always hard because unlike a romantic relationship, sometimes people don't feel that they owe the other party any kind of explaination or may not even have a good reason for letting go of the friend.
I once had a friend suggest that we "take a break" which made me want to yell like Ross from Friends, "OH! We are soooooo on a break!" In the end, I knew the relationship was doomed when I laughed at her suggestion and quickly agreed. Years later, we are still on a break and luckily have only run into each other once which is amazing considering that we do the same work.
Jodi -- I also wanted to wish you the best while dealing with the homesickness. It will be rough and it will be hard but I think you know that and I think you are prepared to fight through it all. Who knows what this will bring to your art?
Posted by: Rebecca at August 26, 2005 02:07 PM
Oh, my online readers DEFINITELY know me better than anyone--even my family (my brother has on more than once been surprised by something he read on my blog). I think the honesty, openness and lack of distractions makes the online relationships more "real" than the IRL ones.
If you don't believe that, wait until you have an online friend--one that you've never met IRL--die. THAT is one strange feeling.
Anyway, good thoughts, everyone.
Posted by: NWJR at August 26, 2005 02:27 PM
when i was about 19 i was dumped by all of my friends simulateously. i didnt have that many friends, but i was part of a circle of girlfriends who i considered that i was very close to, but apparently they didnt want to know me any more. i never really did find out quite why i was cast out in this way. since then i've never been able to make friends. i'm quite shy, and socially awkward, and i think people interpret this as my being haughty and aloof.
Posted by: anna at August 27, 2005 08:20 AM
i didnt mean to make that all about me.
Posted by: anna at August 27, 2005 08:21 AM
I've been mulling over what to say about this post, mostly because I don't know if I have anything new to share. I have been both the dumper and the dumpee, and while I think it is easier to know someone online as opposed to the real world (do you feel like you have differing expectations of how people will be online as opposed to real life? I do, and I guess that's why I feel it's so different- I'm all about the expectations), sometimes I feel like that's not the authentic me, only because I can edit so much. But then I guess it comes down to what is real- the core, the stuff you don't show everybody, or all of the spontaneuos stuff that spills out?
There is a book about the breakup of friendships that I'm curious to read, although I'm wary that it will be an oversimplification of the whole process. I went through a nasty breakup, only to have her marry my husband's best friend. I'm not so good at making nice, I'm much better at sweeping stuff like that into a dark, dark closet.
I hope that you're starting to feel a bit more settled (and hopefully that doesn't sound grossly patronizing)- it looks like you're putting your mark on your surroundings, and that can only lead to good things.
Posted by: Cathi at August 30, 2005 03:21 PM
Oh, Jodi, I don't know where I fall in your categories! All I can say is that constantly moving has been so stressfull that I keep losing hair and gaining weight. I am getting good at making acquaintances but when they get real close, I am at a loss for words at what do do. Hence, my lonely 3 hour cremaster pilgrimage.
Posted by: caroline at August 30, 2005 08:01 PM