…but sometimes it is. There was a time when I was all about forging those bonds and finding a community of like-minded individuals online. When I was in my darkest times, I found support in a small community of bloggers. I even became acquainted with my spouse and learned of our mutual interests through our writings. For someone who has gained so much from my blog, why the trepidation of forging new friendships through it now? Life is a bit overwhelming for me to spend hours in chat or getting to know someone behind a screen name. I don’t sit behind a computer screen in an office job. Nor do I have hours of downtime like I did in Kuwait. But even more so, I have learned from past social missteps and heartaches that arose out of connecting to strangers through social media.
Over time I retreated into a more personal world even as some people have reached out to me for support or friendship. I guess I’m writing this because I feel guilty, however I have a greater need for privacy and real flesh and blood friendships. I am still “friends” with countless people who I have no personal contact with. I often wonder why am I still connected and how to create greater degrees of separation in this monster called social media. I’m still sorting out the blurred lines between my public blogging, social media, and my personal life. We have just begun to understand the consequences and ramifications of social media. In some ways it makes people feel more isolated, even as they doing more and more to share their lives in the public. For the most part, social media does not forge what Malcolm Gladwell calls strong-ties, unless they already existed prior to social media. For example, my sister lives in Southern California and the rest of my immediate family members live in Northern California. I can see instant uploads of major milestones, such as graduations and baby pictures. While I have reconnected with long lost friends, it still isn’t like how it used to be. I rarely talk on the phone with friends from high school or college, we never get together, we don’t even send email or text. For most of us, we’d have a lot of catching up to do and getting to re-know each other before I could share the most intimate details of my life or feel part of their lives.
Occasionally, I will get a request from someone I never met, but they are a friend of a friend on facebook or they follow my blog. Ignoring a request isn’t a personal thing, but in a way it is. But not in the sense that I don’t like you or you’re a bad person, or you’re unimportant. I just don’t know you, even though some of you may think you know me. You only know some of my thoughts, personal reflections, and tendency towards typos and bad grammar. Maybe you get my humor or maybe you don’t. Perhaps we have shared interests or similar views, but we don’t have a personal connection. Most of us haven’t had an extended exchange for me to feel much of resonance. I just don’t want you to think I’m giving you the cold shoulder. It’s nothing personal, but following my blog isn’t enough for me to allow someone access to more details about my life, so that I can be known without a person truly knowing me. We have to have some type of professional, personal, or or academic relationship before I add you my facebook friends or give you my personal contact.