We Used to be Friends

This discussion is of interest to me right now for a couple of reasons. The main one, undoubtedly, revolves around how change can happen in communities that, on a whole, really don’t care about doing anything except maintaining the status quo. The only example I have of this is how other people have gained notoriety or followers in my own sphere. If you want to be successful in my major Twitter habitat, here’s how you do it:

  1. Art,
  2. Streaming games,
  3. Social justice,
  4. Memes,
  5. Attacking other people,
  6. Becoming a ‘personality’.

Unsurprisingly, intelligent discussion features nowhere on that list: neither does poetry or writing generally. This was my first indicator that if I wanted to succeed at these things, I was in the wrong virtual space to capitalise. As I change tack and begin the process of building a new following, skills learnt are beginning to grant egress. Where you make your contacts matters.

Then we need to talk about what people don’t do, and how you define ‘friends’ on the Internet.

One of my biggest problems using this platform, without doubt, is the ridiculously high level of expectation I pin on other people. If a relationship really matters, you put in the effort. I try to do this with RL friends too, which used to be really tough (for reasons that may eventually be discussed in public) but now, undoubtedly, has become considerably easier because of my attitude to how life works.

The fact remains: if someone doesn’t want to put in the effort, or you’re not important enough to them, all the pushing in the World isn’t going to change their outlook. My mental issues have driven wedges into RL friendships and, in a number of cases, broken them beyond repair. It is what it is. Now, looking for people who understand what any relationship comes with as baggage is quite important.

That’s where the first major caveat comes into play.

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Understanding when to walk away is tough online, but with practice and consideration it becomes quite easy to know when you’re in the wrong space. I’ve had someone I enjoyed listening to this week make her quiet, drama-free exit from my feed: it’s only right therefore that her Instagram is unfollowed as acknowledgement we are no longer part of each others’ lives. On reflection, its no surprise.

None of the people who have me blocked are a surprise: I’m noisy, post often and often overlook proper filters. If you fuck me off, I’ll tell you so, that’s the joyous advantage of my mental situation. Except, of late it has become apparent that this often makes bad situations worse, and if you respect other people’s opinions and sanctity all that does is make you look like drama’s acceptable, when everybody really wants a bit of peace.

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The second caveat flips the picture. When I do make the effort, and attempt to leverage some enlightenment into someone’s frame of reference… do they care? Well, often that’s a job worth doing, there’s the signs of a point being made… but unless the person is open and sympathetic to constructive criticism, that is also often the point where any fledgling relationship ends. I didn’t come on the Internet for people to tell me I’m wrong, I’m here to escape from people doing that to me IRL…

It all depends, it appears, on why you’re here to begin with. If fame is the goal, the last thing that’s required is dissent over any game plan. You can tell the serial goal-setters a mile away, and that’s when a choice has to be made. Does this person listen, or are they simply appeasing you in front of an audience to prove how fair and equitable they can be? Will they in turn seek your feed out, read what you have to say, or are they only interested in the mention you gave them to begin with?

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Then its all down to the Curation Game: mute for a bit (is the feed better or worse without them, is there even a noticeable difference) then unfollow or, if the need is there block and move on. The smart people should know when the nuclear button is pressed why you’re suddenly no longer accessible, and there’s a good chance that if the point wasn’t made before, it is now: you did a bad thing, and we’re no longer going to talk to each other.

If the friendship really matters to the other person and you block them, it’s not like they suddenly became inaccessible. An email was sent once to someone asking them why a block was enforced, and their reply was a salutatory warning: I didn’t know this individual at all. The ‘person’ they were online was nothing like their reality, my kind of disruption or controversy was simply not warranted in their lives any more. These situations are the ones that need to be learnt from, as a warning going forward.

Redefining friendship parameters on a daily basis should be a part of a self-care routine.