Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mistaken for strangers

I've been thinking about writing this one for a while but even here and now I'm not really sure what this post is about.

It's partially about why I'm enjoying being part of this so much. I'm one of the few here who has written a blog elsewhere. I came here for the anonymity and the freedom to write on any topic of my choosing. I haven't really exercised that as of yet but I'm inspired by seeing sometimes quite personal posts and personal details in people's memes.

Part of what I'd planned on writing about was about a sense of community. I love the idea of it although I (and many of us) are experiencing precious little of it in our everyday lives. Time was you'd have the same job for decades (if you were lucky) and work with the same people for better or worse for most of that time. People lived in the same place all their lives, got to know their neighbours (my mother grew up in a tenement where you literally lived in each other's pockets), lived, loved and died sometimes on the same road or in the same suburb. Even outside of that people had large families, sometimes 7, 8, 9 kids and that led to huge extended families of dozens of aunts, uncles, cousins.

Everything was geared to a sense of community everywhere you turned and everyone from Plato up espoused the theory that community, family, call it what you will was one of the things you needed to make yourself happy in life. There's been a running joke that if I won the Euromillions I'd buy a huge island, estate, whatever and invite all my friends to live there as they wished. To create a community (no need to start backing away from the screen - I don;t think that's going to happen somehow).

In 2007 it's changed. I don't need to spell out to you the landscape of changing jobs, houses and dispersed families. You can work differing shifts in a cubicle, maybe getting to know a few others before moving on to the same drill again, we move up the property ladder, what is it, 5 or 6 times in our lives now (if we're lucky enough to be on it in the first place) and smaller families mean just that. I have one sibling and two cousins.

So where do we, where have I found community? Friends. I spent a fair amount of my late teens hanging around in a gang of us (in the loosest sense of the word - it was more bowling and going to the chipper than kneecappings and drive-bys), had a loose grouping of the same in my 20s but then you hit a point where parenthood severely gets in the way of you interacting with others. It's just a fact of life - they take up your time and money and you move on to a different phase. Of course you get back entirely different rewards from your kids but there's still that hunger for adult interaction of a kind.

On a side note I don't deal very well with being alone. It used to be all I craved when I was a teenager but I've found that the older I got the less I liked it. It's strange in that for those who know me in my daily job I give off an air of passionate unflappability and warm camaraderie at all times. Kind of like Tony Blair before the Iraq war broke him. I'm required to interact with a lot of people but (like most of us) almost all of them are on a superficial, work level. Almost none of them have any clue about what the person outside the office doors is like and it stays that way because a lot of those I work with and in my industry are superficial self-obsessed types anyway and I don't really like people like that.

I blend into crowds easily when I'm on my own, become invisible at times and frequently feel that horrible emptiness inside some of us get in large groups. The emptiness that convinces you that, despite all logic to the contrary, everyone else has tons of really, really good friends they're having a wonderful time with at this very moment and that there's something wrong with you because of how isolated the real you is in everyday life.

It's not as if I don't have friends (look at you all!) but I only have maybe 2 or 3 who I could be blindingly honest to, tell anything to and even they are the types that, most of the time, don;t feel they can open up in the same way to me. It's a guy thing.

I said in my meme:

4 I'm an extremely loyal friend. I'd go to the ends of the earth if I cared about you but I rarely find that devotion in others.

I've found that to be true for most of my life.

Then came here. We are many things (writers, funny, expressive, friendly, smart, lima bean harvesting units) but above all we're becoming a community, commune, family, whatever. That's why I like being here. I like and trust you all.

Some of you I don't physically see from one end of the month to the other, one or two I see frequently, some of you I've never met in my life but now we all, regardless of our relationships to each other prior to this beginning, meet here and are forming bonds. Then we'll meet up, introduce alcohol, costumes, masks, laminated name badges and possibly those lovely hot nuts pubs serve these days. Then the real fun will start!

That's where this ends. As randomly as it started. I'm here for the community. My interaction here with friends I've known since I was a kid and friends I've only just met is increasing my quality of life every day and for that I'm grateful to you all.


  1. I don't think any of us could've said it better, and I know that we all agree with those sentiments. I was never into this blogging thing, and I don't normally use the internet much (damn 56k modem), but since joining, I've found myself logging on as much as possible just to see what everyone's posting, and to read the comments everyone leaves, which is one of the biggest plusses about this community.

    I love you guys...

  2. I'm so lucky to have this online family now, I really don't think it's a blog though! It's one of the only places where I can just be me...not mother, or wife or sister or daughter. Just me!

  3. After discussing this tonight I've had a thought. We're not a blog really, are we? Maybe we need to call it something else?

    For Nine Pounds - An Analog Community?

    For Nine Pounds - An Analog Family?

    For Nine Pounds - An Analog Grouping?

    Might need to think on that one.

  4. Wow SL that was a deep post, but fantastic all the same, I do agree it aint really a blog more a chat room nearly, just yapping away to ourselves etc. I do wonder how an outsider to the family sees this though.

  5. Lovely post, I think you've summed it up so well.

  6. I think at this stage "Family" might be the best way to describe it. Or maybe "Slave Camp" if SL gets us into this lima bean harvesting thing...