5.26.2010

Disconnected

Nearly 4 years ago on Yahoo, at the suggestion of a friend who lives far away, I started this little turd of a blog. My friend was convinced this blogging thing would be an effective way to keep up with each others’ lives and feel more connected even though, geographically speaking, we were very very disconnected. As a new arrival in Nashville, knowing absolutely NO ONE here, it seemed like a good idea to me; a seductive lifeline to keep loneliness at bay.

The blogosphere wasn’t completely foreign to me. I had been reading the two separate blogs of long-distance friends on Live Journal for a few months and it really DID seem to let me into their lives a little despite the fact that we saw each other face-to-face maybe once a year. I was convinced that reading about their lives, even though I wasn’t a participant, connected us in a unique way.

And yet, recently I have seriously considered the cessation of all blogging endeavors because increasingly it is making me sad and leaving me feeling ever more disconnected, the exact opposite effect for which it was intended.

Here’s the problem: relationships of any kind require two-way interaction. It’s not enough for me to broadcast my life to the world without any kind of feedback or exchange. If I read about someone’s life and do not comment, there is no relationship. Worse perhaps, if I DO comment on someone’s blog and they do not respond to or acknowledge the feedback, there is no relationship. I am guilty of all of the above.

While blogging, Facebook, and Twitter seem like reasonable solutions to the problem of loneliness experienced by a more and more mobile population, for me personally, utilizing these tools has made me feel more isolated than ever. Of course I actively participate in my own life – and I love my life – but through blogging and Facebook, I am merely an outside observer to the lives of my friends.

To say that blogging (and Twitter, Facebook, even email) is anti-social and enhances disconnectedness is to render the user(s) blameless. If someone tries to use technological communication as a sole means of maintaining relationships, they are probably using it in the wrong way. But that’s what it’s come to. I have never been a heavy phone user – just not my preferred medium. Never has been. Especially now with cell phones, lengthy long distance phone calls can be made cumbersome with fuzzy or sporadic reception. And I simply do not make time to really get comfortable and have a long phone conversation where I am focused 100% on the person I’m talking to. It’s dreadful, but it seems somehow decadent to laze around on the phone doing absolutely nothing but talking (I absolutely refuse to talk on the phone while driving).

I use to write extensive letters to maintain contact and relationships with long distance friends. Then I switched to email. It was faster. But with faster, came higher expectations. Replies should be quicker, right? But we all get so much fucking email every single day. And soon the email I intended to reply to has been lingering in my inbox for well over a month and I feel like I should respond but I can’t just type off a quick response, it has to be meaningful or what’s the point? So it lingers still while I try to find time to reply properly.

A year ago, after much deliberation, I finally bit the bullet and joined Facebook thinking this, at last, was the perfect way to be connected to friends. Alas. I despise Facebook. Obviously I’m in the minority. I guess I just don’t get it; I don’t appreciate it or enjoy it the way others seem to. Perhaps if I actually posted something, anything, to my Facebook page, I would feel more connected. The problem is that I rarely think I have anything evenly remotely interesting to post. Again, obviously I am in the minority in my thinking.

Anyway, I guess partly why I’ve lapsed in my blogging endeavors lately is that sometimes it just seems mostly pointless and only serves to make me feel even more disconnected than I already do.

Don’t think that I solely lay the blame of my isolation feelings at the feet of technology. I seem to go through hermit phases – some more lengthy than others – where I find it difficult to participate in anyone’s life but my own. I think it’s genetic. I suppose this blog post could indicate I am emerging from one of these phases. We’ll see.

13 comments:

mom said...

I hear ya. I dislike facebook, and twitter. Phone conversations are great if both people are at a time of day when they can relax and concentrate on the conversation, if there is news, or something funny or interesting is going on. I've also noticed that some people are just better phone conversationists than others...I'm not one of those people. Boty is great on the phone because she just chats away about anything that enters her head, and she is very entertaining. It seems once I get on the phone, nothing enters my head, and whatever was there, suddenly disappears. I've always preferred hand written letters, but I am in the minority. e-mails are ok for getting information from palce to place, but somehow lack a personal touch. As a curious (maybe even a little bit nosy) person I like knowing what is going on in the lives of others, but I don't always like to reciprocate about my own life. Maybe that means I'm a nosy, private person? I totally get the hermit cycle too. Some of us seem to need quite a bit of alone time to "just be". But when that cycle is over, there better be someone at the ready to talk to, or depression could easily set in, and we may wonder why people are so "not fun".

As for your posts. I really enjoy them, because you are such a good and entertaining writer. I vote you keep up with your blogs...when you're not in the hermit phase. Or maybe you could post THAT information, "I'm in one of my hermit phases, do not look for any new blog posts til later." Of course if there is NO word from you for too long a time, I might have to call.

cathryn said...

Mom, we are alarmingly similar! I am not, and never have been, a skillful phone conversationalist. I'm also a "nosy private person". lol See? It IS genetic!

Mars Girl said...

I dont use blogging for people to keep up with me. I started blogging to make sure I write more often. It's a means to an end for me because I like to write. It's an exercise in discipline (and my discipline has been off lately, too). And, because I'm a writer who desperately wants to get published, I cant just write a journal for myself and keep it quiet--I want the instant gratification of others' reading my brilliance.

Okay, I dont *really* think I'm brilliant (I'll leave that to the smarter people like Frank). But I am creative and I like to write and I see blogging as a small way for me to be able to be published, even if I cant really be published (because I havent even written anything publishable yet). You know? I love blogging for this reason... Yeah, I write about my life but i have a lot of relevent things to discuss about my life--cycling, reflections on widowhood, to name a few.

FB... well... I got fed up with it for awhile there, but I'm still on because I'm still a narcissist (lol). And I actually DO feel less alone and more connected using it... It's very odd. I know I should hate it; on the otherhand, for example, when I encounter a friend somewhere in real life, because I'm FB friends iwth them, I automatically have conversation starters with people... I am not left with that awkward feeling of having nothing other to say than hi! I can say, "Hey, so, I saw that you were at Cedar Point the other day, eh?" Or you know...

*shrug*

I am addicted to the internet and everything about it. I would miss reading your blog if you stopped.

Mars Girl said...

Also... I still write hand-written letters to a friend who became my pen pal when we were 13. She lives in Seattle (I introduced her to Alison). We email each other for urgent stuff, but we still handwrite letters to each other once a month or so. I dont think we'll ever stop doing that and it's still fun to get her letters in the mail...

Donna said...

I love your blogs and writing style and wish I could begin to express myself as well as you do. I'm glad you started the blog and keep up with it when YOU want to. I enjoy Facebook to a degree. But I would never pour my heart out on it, tell something that could only be expressed in an inadequate number of characters and I enjoy seeing what's up with others and commenting on their posts more than posting myself. I too tend to have hermit tendencies after being too social in person. Love you lady! Blog to your heart's content-- whenever that may be! We'll be here: )

boty said...

Cafra, you are retarded...I would call you and tell you but as stated you hate talking on the tele and RARELY answer your fucking phone anyways.

Stop being an emotional fuck-wit, eat some cheesy mac and ho-hos and get a grip.

Alison said...

It makes me sad to think you might not blog anymore, but it's not like I have room to blame you. Maybe we should start up the group letter again.

cathryn said...

MG - Yeah, maybe it would helpful to re-evaluate the purpose of my blog. Instead of an attempt to stay connected to people, I could view it more as simply a vehicle for self-expression.

cathryn said...

Donna - You're a nosy private person too ;)

cathryn said...

boty - I will work on getting a grip. Ho-hos will probably help in this endeavor.

cathryn said...

Alison - I loved the group letter! Maybe I'll rekindle it next weekend. Keep an eye on your mailbox :)

Mars Girl said...

Group letter? That sounds interesting... How did that work?

Alison said...

MG - person 1 writes a letter and sends it to person 2, person 2 writes a letter and sends that + letter 1 to person 3 and so on. When the group letter gets back to person 1, she replaces the first letter she wrote with a new one. Any news is guaranteed to be old news by the time you get it, but it's still a treat to get real mail, as you understand!