Monday, October 18, 2010

Below their surface...

Rarely do we know people.  You think you know people, but you really can't.  Writing is one of those exercises where you get to know a person as much or as little as you like because you create them.  From the big thoughts and education level to the smallest last freckle on their nose, everything is up to your imagination.  Real life isn't like that.  It's not necessarily safe to make assumptions about a person.  They could lie to you. They could pretend to be someone they aren't.  They could stab you in the back.  They could actually like you or be in love with you.  All these things can be dancing just below the surface and there is no way to be absolutely certain outside of an outright confession. 

To make matters more difficult, let's say you haven't seen the person in some time.  When you knew them, they appeared one way.  You thought you knew them rather well.  Suddenly you meet them again and they've changed.  Perhaps they've done a complete 180.  They are nothing like they once were, short of their appearance.  I hate these times.  I hate it when you meet someone after a long time and they are less enjoyable than they were before.  It is my least favorite social interaction (and I'm picky about social interaction).  The reason this is so, is because I hate the disappointment.  Just like seeing a painting from across the room, you can suddenly see all the flaws of the person, the change having overtaken them.  Its painful.  And the time you spent in this discovery seems almost wasted.  It had been better if you never saw the person.  In this way your memory of them is preserved, they are flawless... beautiful... and you can enjoy your ideal friend, enemy, or relative in peace. 

These days you don't get that luxury.  The internet gives you a secret peephole into these other people's existence.  You can of course, choose to look or not.  It is possible to disassociate yourself from social media sites and thus avoid the awkward situation altogether. If you could, you would be a wise and lucky person. 

You see, its not just the other people you rediscover.  You also rediscover yourself.  Necessarily your relationships with these once friends, enemies, and distant relations are thrown into high relief and suddenly you become painful aware of your own decided isolation.  Social media sites have made that painful clear to me.  I often find myself thinking of people who I expect have forgotten my existence and are apathetic as to what I do or don't.  I wish I was important enough in their thoughts to warrant an occasional comment, but mostly I am far removed, only rendered interesting by my relative proximity to that person's geography and a higher number of networked friends. 

In other cases, I am surprised by the importance I garner.  One is never sure what impact one will have in people's lives.  For some, I'm sure my never ending blog entries popping up regularly in my news feed are utterly annoying.  For others, perhaps its a regular column that cracks a smile on someone's face.  I don't know. Social media sites are nice because you can look, but you don't have to make contact if you don't want to.  You are at a safe distance, not required to pick up the phone, drink a coffee, or type out a message.  Besides the physical and cyber barriers there are the classic barriers of a person's expression and mind.  Something I know is dancing just below the surface, but I can never know exactly what.  I've come a long way with figuring out my husband, and I'm just an apprentice to that mystery.

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