Friday, October 11, 2013


The dream went like this: My phone rings and I look at the screen and see an inspirational quote. Before I can read it, or begin to wonder why and how it is there, the phone rings. It is someone calling to wish me a happy birthday.

I have no idea who I am talking to. I think I should know. I ask discreet questions, like a detective to try and work out who I am talking to.

The phone call ends and I am none the wiser.

My subconscious leads me to clarify a vague discontentment I have been grappling with, something about my connectedness, about my lack of connectedness, about my loneliness.

I am a confident introvert. I learned to be a confident introvert after starting my life as shy. In my early 20's I had distressing reoccurring dreams about phone calls. I needed to make a call, but the phone call always went wrong, the numbers wouldn't dial, the connection was bad, I couldn’t communicate.

Life forced me into challenging social and work situations, and being an introvert, I pondered and problem solved and one day someone said to me, "I wish I was confident like you." I had succeeded in appearing socially competent - confident even. I taught myself skills.  I developed abilities with the necessary tools.  I can start a conversation with almost anyone and find myself more frustrated with others' inability to communicate then my own.

I overcame shyness but essentially people are not really my thing. I recognise I need them, I like nearly all of them, I can find myself enjoying their company, I love a select few, but really give me a book or a garden to weed and I am just as happy.

Facebook, in those early heady days of playing parking games with my neighbours, finding long lost school friends, knowing what was happening in my friends' lives without actually seeing them, was a revelation. It suits introverts like me who can choose when to engage, or be the voyeur.

Facebook morphed and grew, it threw adds at me, trollers, inspirational quotes, videos, it changed and I journeyed with it, secure in the notion that there was a world going on and I was part of it.

The floods came in 2011 and people clung to each other in a shared experience and then fissures appeared just as the disaster recovery literature said they would. I broke a little and was repaired with tiny flaws that were new to me. I have retreated. I have been duped by the smiling faces in profile pictures, the status updates, and the busy-ness on my iPad, into thinking there are people in my life, when I don't really know most of them.  I don't know what makes their hearts' sing; I don't know what worries keep them awake at night.

I see the people I consider my friends less now than I ever did, though I see a photo of them every day, and most days I might see something they have written about their lives. Or perhaps an inspirational quote they like.

So, I decided yesterday to go cold turkey. What would happen if I did not look at Facebook for a week? Would I really miss anything?

I met a friend for coffee this morning, an event separate to my decision.  She is not a Facebook user. I haven’t seen her in three, maybe four months. She had important news to tell me. She struggled. It wasn’t news she wanted to tell.

The wind is restless today. The sun comes and goes and lights my garden in a damp way that is both transient and fresh.

I don't know what has happened on Facebook since 8pm last night, but I bet someone's status update says, "It's windy."

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