asakiyume: (miroku)
[personal profile] asakiyume
Eve Shi introduce me to this great phrase, shy like a pigeon. It means someone who seems gregarious, but flies off if you get too close. I really understand that! I can be really sociable so long as there's a certain distance built in, like with .... drumroll .... social media!1 Specifically, the sort of interaction that you can get on LJ/DW. You can share all sorts of thoughts, chat, enthuse about whatever it is you want to enthuse about, even give or receive comfort and consolation--but you can also retreat, and by and large people won't mind too much. It reminds me of something [personal profile] sovay said about a writer's characterization, that his characters were "on the whole are drawn more vividly than deeply." It's that type of friendship, vivid but not deep.

Of course you can *make* it deep. I bet anyone who's been online for more than a few years has had serious, lasting friendships blossom from their online interactions. I know several people who've gotten married to people they met online. But when it gets deep, most probably you're no longer interacting solely through LJ/DW. Probably you're meeting up in person, sending private messages or emails, maybe exchanging paper letters, maybe phoning--you're getting to know the person through more than one medium.

But once a friendship is a deep one, you can't convert it back into a shallow one. You can drift apart as friends--that happens--but you'll never not have shared a deep friendship. And if you have a social-media space made up of people who are mainly close friends, that's very different from a social-media space made up of strangers and acquaintances. Speaking for myself (but I'm willing to bet this is true for many people), it changes how you interact. You have responsibilities in a way you don't if you're interacting with strangers and acquaintances.

Musing on the nature of online interactions and in-the-flesh interactions, and what friendship is, etc. etc., has gradually led me to the conclusion that I haven't been a very good real-life friend to very many people. I **haven't** done that thing that gets talked about in every movie and every essay on friendship: I haven't been there as a supportive presence for people in hard times. Not very much. Part of me wants to say that it took my mother dying, and having to be there for my dad, for me to understand what being there for someone really means. Kind of late in life to learn that stuff.

But I'm trying harder now. Still in a very limited way, because, see above, shy like a pigeon. (Or maybe I shouldn't blame shyness. Maybe it's just selfishness.)

I thought I might segue into talking about how being in a social-media space composed of actual friends lends itself to certain types of posts and inhibits others, but as I think about it more, I think a lot of that comes down to personal styles--it's actually hard to generalize on. Maybe what I could talk about would be my own feelings on that--but another time.


1And not just social media. Acquaintanceship through some shared activity can be like this; my interactions with people in my book group feels similar. Warm, friendly, but not too deep.

Date: 2017-07-14 03:50 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
Thank you for this post! ^_^

Date: 2017-07-14 04:04 pm (UTC)
missroserose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] missroserose
I like that phrase a lot. I think I identify with it more than a little bit.

Something that's been coming to light in my life recently is how I connect with people romantically. To me, sexual/romantic attraction is inextricably interlinked with emotional intimacy. I'm actually quite capable of listening and offering support to people in difficult situations - a former roommate of mine used to tease me about the "Free Shrink" sign that was clearly pasted on my forehead. But, correspondingly, I'm one of the more emotionally guarded people I know; vulnerability on that front is completely terrifying to me. This is less of an issue in the NRE phase of a relationship, where the hormones and intensity of feeling promote bonding, but later on, as things settle down into a comfortable groove, maintaining that level of openness is...incredibly difficult. (So now, in the way of these things, I'm romantically interested in someone who's even more guarded than I am, heh. What's good for the goose...)

Date: 2017-07-14 04:26 pm (UTC)
missroserose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] missroserose
I think these are all good points! That last one especially strikes me; some years ago I came across a description in a book of a character who was supposed to be good to talk to because it felt like they were really listening to what you had to say, not just waiting their turn to speak. Having met many people in the interim who fell into that latter category, I can attest that the former is a rare thing; I've tried hard to cultivate that ability. Interestingly, though, while I've met plenty of people who are happy to be listened to, there are also a few who find it disconcerting. Like, they'll happily go on about their lives, but when I ask questions that show I've been listening and actually considering what they say, they get discomfited. It makes me wonder about our overall communication culture, that these people clearly don't expect to be listened to (and just as clearly so rarely encounter exceptions to their expectations).

Date: 2017-07-14 04:31 pm (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
I know what you mean about online friendships- I've got to meet people from on here in the 'real world' and there have been some lasting friendships as a result. :o)

Date: 2017-07-14 06:41 pm (UTC)
sartorias: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sartorias
That's a great observation about friendships that spill into different media.

I also think the style thing can be an important aspect of not just what people post, but how we receive those posts, and interact. For example, I really enjoy X in real life. But X's twitter feed is all promotion all the time, and they aren't on any other platform I visit at all. So my online interactions are minimal. In spite of some fairly serious conversations in real life.

Date: 2017-07-14 09:51 pm (UTC)
sartorias: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sartorias
...or thinking that a specific platform is their Promotion Platform, as they are supposed to be doing promotion.

I think it's hard for people who are not at all inclined toward self-promo to do it, so they grit their teeth and force it out in one area so they can say they are doing it.

Date: 2017-07-15 01:29 am (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
Oh, this is interesting. Lots to chew over here...

I think learning to be a good friend - or not just a friend; to be good at relationships in general - takes a long time; we get very little explicit instruction in it, so we all just have to muddle along as best we can.

And in particular when it comes to being supportive to people in hard times - I think that's very hard, because that's often the time when people are least able to verbalize what they want or need from you - and maybe aren't sure themselves, either? People can seesaw between "Why isn't anyone helping me?" and "I wish they'd all leave me alone."

And, on the other end, it feels like any mistake you make is going to be massive, like you'll be that one character from a book who says something horrible and tactless that reverberates in the main character's heart for years after the event. So that can be paralyzing, too.

Date: 2017-07-15 04:15 am (UTC)
queenoftheskies: queenoftheskies (Default)
From: [personal profile] queenoftheskies
I've been very lucky to meet some special people online. Which has, in many instances, led to meeting them in real life, too. And, I found them to be just as special in person.

On the flip side, I've met people in real life and then found them on social media, too.

Either way, it's special. And it's awesome. And meaningful.

Date: 2017-07-15 03:53 pm (UTC)
athenais: (Default)
From: [personal profile] athenais
Ah, this is stuff that matters to me so much!

I am not at all shy like a pigeon. I'm gregarious, I want to meet people, I like making new friends. If I can find them in a place like a blogging community it is just as perfect as if I met them in real life. But unlike you I don't typically feel I can just retreat. I feel like I've made a commitment as real as if we were friends in person. Okay, sometimes I step back, sometimes it would be hugely inappropriate for me to do more than express sympathy to someone I read. I am simply not their real friend no matter how much investment I might have in this online life.

I have long known that I view the online journal as something that requires active participation by others, seeing a social contract at work: you comment on mine, I comment on yours. Alas, that social contract is not universally perceived and never was except for the early years, maybe 1996-1999. Friends will read me and say nothing for long stretches. They're getting their dose of Athenais and they feel connected, while I feel unvalued and ignored. At least I know it's my take on how things work and not someone else's fault. But the end result is I'm over here wanting to be part of people's lives and they're over there saying, "No further, you're just pixels."

On Facebook I won't accept a friend request from anyone but real life friends. On my journals I let anyone read me. And yet I feel more inhibited about what I share at FB.

I don't know about shy like pigeons and I couldn't possibly say you are or are not selfish, but I know being there for people means having compassion. I have had to learn to be more compassionate about others. It's working pretty well now; wasn't good at it before my 40s.

Date: 2017-07-15 10:21 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
the realization that however much people say "You're in my thoughts," that fact JUST DOES NOT TRANSMIT without actions.

Yes! This! Very much this. Sometimes it can be almost a slap in the face when people say that: it's like they want the kudos for supportive without doing any of the actual work.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a foundational rule for posting on Facebook, too, which may be why I make new Facebook friends with some trepidation now. Is this one going to post long political rants? Endless links to Upworthy articles? Five hundred pictures of their babies and/or cats? I like baby and/or cat photos, but there has to be some moderation.

Date: 2017-07-16 07:18 am (UTC)
athenais: (Default)
From: [personal profile] athenais
My own rule at Facebook is, "Remember everything you say here is being monetized." So I don't offer up how my head works or write other people's stories there. On the other hand, I rarely post memes or share articles. I offer personal content. Anyone who is on my list gets a piece of me, not someone else's work.

Date: 2017-07-17 06:01 am (UTC)
athenais: (Default)
From: [personal profile] athenais
That kind of sharing doesn't bother me at all, I think it's good and I often learn some interesting things. I think that is actually personal content in a way. I was thinking of so many friends who do nothing but post memes and links to articles that preach to the choir.

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