the digital relationship trap

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a wake up call to a rented room sounded like an alarm of impending doom. to warn us it’s only a matter of time. before we all burn.

it’s funny. ten days from now will mark my one year san franniversary. one. whole. year. one year since i left everything i loved in search of adventure, newness, and ultimately, love.

and here i am. one year later. coming down from the whirlwind that was the last 12 months. but there is something funny about where i stand right this moment in life. people ask how in the world i moved across the country to a city where i knew no one but the person whose couch i would be living on (whom i had previously met only twice before.). how did i meet people? was it hard? how did i quit my job and leave all security? how could i afford to be unemployed for months and months? wasn’t it scary not knowing anyone? and when asked these questions i would answer in the only way i knew how – no it wasn’t scary. i felt like it was something i had to do. meeting people came oddly easily (and hell have i been lucky with the friends i’ve come up with so far). being unemployed was difficult for what it was- unemployment in a recession.  but it was exactly what i needed to do for me.

so here i am, in the come down period. the settled in my own apartment working for the number 3 best fortune 500 company to work for with a great group of friends and stability period. but, well, here’s the thing. stability isn’t something i really place much value on in my life. cause in the last month, the most stable and unwavering month in the last 12, i’ve been in a rut. many things have contributed to this down period in my life. a few of which i have now identified and of which i will proceed to give you a detailed description.

as you can see in my archives, sf different from chicago. different from everywhere. in so many ways. and i have had to navigate these foggy bay waters by using the only method i know- talking about my experiences. and gathering perspective. and as often is the case, sometimes an outside perspective can be much more insightful, understanding and um, validating. this past weekend i got all of those things after a long and grounding conversation with a friend that was in town visiting. he and i talked… and he ‘got it.’ whatever ‘it’ is about sf that makes me feel like i am on a roller coaster riding the peaks and valleys of life and love in this city.

san francisco: the social experiment of the nation (i absolutely cannot take credit for the most brilliant analogy this side of the mississippi, for @ryanmcminn is the genius that helped me articulate this theory.) san francisco is filled with some of the most brilliant and innovative people in the world. we (and i say we not to call myself brilliant but a) to not point a finger, and b) for sake of ease) are socially five years ahead of everyone. i mean come on- every social networking site is based here. we get to test the new hot site, adopt it, obsess over it, and ultimately affect our relationships in a zillion ways we do not care to contemplate before smothering every part of our lives with it. all before oprah’s done any endorsing. because by the time anything has oprah’s stamp of approval we, the proud citizens of san francisco, have participated in the clinical trials. allowing the founders of the new and innovative social networking site to adjust for optimal performance. thereby making it usable for the everyday non san franciscan american.

so here is what i have found. about me. about my friends. about my dating life. about living in one big social experiment. i let myself slip into this weird isolating place of social awkwardness. i met this amazing group of friends and i got to know them, and showed them who i was. and became close with all of them. all of which was followed by following them on twitter, and becoming friends on facebook, and seeing what they chose to tumble everyday, and you know… participated in the trials. so i was seeing my friends all the time when i was unemployed. for the obvious reason- i had a lot of time on my hands. but also, because an important part of successfully moving across the country is building new relationships and that takes effort. so i put in all this effort. and made a huge group of amazing friends.

and then i got a job. a job where i defy all san francisco logic daily- i get to work before 7am. thus putting the ca bash on the very alcoholcentric weekday social life i had grown accustomed to. which is fine. i like my job. though, unconsciously more than my foursquare check ins and alcohol consumption levels were dying. so was the authenticity of my relationships with my friends. but i had no idea. because i was following their every move on twitter and facebook. cause they are my friends, and i genuinely cared about what they were doing. and if i couldn’t be there to experience it with them cause i had to rise at 5:30am, then i’d ‘follow.’

but i got to the point where i stopped wanting to make the effort to go out to meet people, even when it did fit into my schedule. i stopped wanting to make the effort to go hang out with my friends. what? i mean, that doesn’t make sense. but i began to focus on how awkward it would be to see them and have nothing to talk about. and why wouldn’t i have anything to talk about? because i’ve been following their lives digitally, and them mine. and i ‘knew’ everything they were doing… so there wouldn’t be anything new to talk about. because seeing my friends at the bar turned into seeing passing acquaintances. by following their every move online i was taking the connection out of our friendship. i was going through the motions. and i found myself with all these good friends that TURNED superficial because of social media sites.

this is the opposite of what people usually talk about when they talk about ‘friendships’ on the internet. they say, “do you even know those hundreds of people you are friends with on fb, or following on twitter.” “you can’t know them all, those must be superficial relationships…” well. i did know them. and had the false sense of continued friendship when i stopped seeing them in person because i was seeing them online.

so, for a million reasons i took some time off from the digital. and reevaluated my life in the analog. hence the 6 week long posting hiatus here. and here is what i’ve come up with:

i like my friends. i like them IN PERSON. and i like TALKING to them about what is going on in their life. not (just) reading about it online. i don’t care if i have to hear it twice.

also, i thrive on meeting new people. i am at my best in any relationship before twitter handles are exchanged and facebook friendships accepted. because connection and common ground are being sought… not merely maintained.

and as for my dating life. i need to keep it analog. i need the energy and excitement of face to face connection. i need to have no idea what you did all week because i want you to TELL me about it. i don’t want to read it. believe it or not, i want to TALK with my friends. and potential boyfriends (uh, what are those again? yea, that is the status of my not so love life).

so. here it is. a million aggregated thoughts on where i’ve been the last 6 weeks, how i got there, and where i am going from here on out.

system reboot in three…two…one… now.

and the news reports on the radio
said it was getting worse
as the ocean air fanned the flame.
but i couldn’t think of anywhere  would have rather been
to watch it all burn away.
to burn away.

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