I recently decided to cut off one of my friends.
Okay, maybe “friends” isn’t the best description of him, and since I don’t like using real names, let’s call him “N.A.” Back when I was in college, I had my own online discussion forum (there is nobody nerdier than me), and in it, I used to get into a lot of fights with people because frankly, I’d been getting into fights with people over the internet since I discovered it, back in the BBS days. I was in my Malcolm X phase, I was… fourteen when I started posting online? Yeah, I think that old, and I LOVED debating race. And I loved sticking it to people, proving how smart I thought I was, getting the zinger at just the right time, in just the right way, to make my “enemy” look like an ass. The internet flamers that exist today would tremble in fear if I had continued being that asshole beyond my college years – they have nothing on me. But I grew up, stopped flaming pretty much after my forum went down in my junior year or so, and I found more constructive things to do with my life.
As my life went to shit in recent years, I began to feel really guilty about the dick I had been back then, particularly to this one person, “N.A.,” who is an obnoxious Liberal. Despite my Leftist leanings, a lingering element, in some ways, of my Limbaugh days, was my understanding that if you took the moral values and the personal attacks out of it, there was a perfectly legitimate argument to be made for Conservatism. I truly believe that the split between Left and Right Wing politics is as arbitrary as one’s preference for one color over the other (and I don’t mean skin color). Nobody knows for sure if big or small government is best, or if the private sector or the government is the best or most necessary source for wealth, and frankly, in my experience, it’s extremely situational. America needed the New Deal, IMO, because people had lost the ability to earn money without help. If the companies are doing well, however, they can hire people, so you really don’t need government as much, and it varies between cities and towns, large versus small social units; manufacturing versus service economies. Part of why I hate people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher now is because they act like there’s an answer and really, there isn’t. Well, I hate them for another, more important reason:
They’re dicks. As was N.A., and as was I.
N.A. was as close to Communist as a Liberal could get without flat out declaring he was a Socialist (as my father has), so we agreed on a lot of stuff and yet fought constantly, because again, I can see the other side of the argument too. He really thought I was some kind of Right Wing extremist, not because of my actual views (which he never took the time to get to know in any meaningful way), but because I dared to defend the opposing view, and suggest that there were situations where it could work, and that I didn’t agree 100% with everything the Democratic Party did. At that time, as I said, I was a flamer an a dick, and really stuck it to him whenever and however I could, enjoying how well I made him look like an asshole. And so we fought until I graduated, moved on with my life, and grew up.
Years later, after failing at just about everything, I felt guilty about how I acted and reached out. We reconnected, and because I knew we were so alike deep down, and he wanted to write a screenplay (my domain), I thought I was going to make a new friend. But I didn’t, and after fighting with him again and again, this time not about politics, but about simple writing (which I can honestly say we are both good at), I decided to cut him off because, well, I have a problem.
I always have to speak my fucking opinion about every God damned thing, and get the last word.
Of all social media, the one I use most, by far, is Twitter. Why? Because when you “catfish,” as I do, you can send instantaneous feedback on every medium you consume. In college, I wrote papers about everything I read and everything I saw to the tune of graduating with high distinction, or put another way, I was rewarded for expressing my opinion, just as I was all throughout all of the lower grades, raising my hand to move the class along, becoming a teacher’s pet in most cases (another problem I have, as my father pointed out, is that I have no respect for authority. I never got in trouble for vandalizing, or fighting, or skipping school, but to this day my dad remembers how many times he had to be called in to my school because I talked back to and challenged teachers. My opinion is a dangerous thing) and most of all, being rewarded for it. I won awards, I ruled the geeks, everybody knew me despite my not knowing them, and things I said in class would spread through the school like wildfire. Twitter does the same, with my words being “Favorite”d by the famous, or better, “Re-Tweeted,” thus showing me once again how wonderfully smart I am.
Except that I’m not.
Expressing your opinion all the time, as my sister puts it, is often “mansplaining,” and women hate that. It’s condescending, it’s boring, and if they’re with you, it’s embarrassing. It’s also “oversharing,” as my therapist puts it, leading to gossip, in many cases, and revealing all your dirt to somebody who isn’t even sure if they like you yet. It’s a big no no, and yet, it’s a basic of my personality. And I hate it.
“N.A.” has the same problem, and N.A. is the same age as my father, never been married, no kids, and has few friends. He claims not to be lonely, and while I don’t buy that, whatever, it doesn’t matter, that’s him. He will likely die alone. And at the rate I am going, so will I.
I don’t know how to break this habit, but in my lonely state, it’s getting scary now. I talk to myself a lot, lecturing about every societal and pop-cultural phenomenon I encounter on a regular basis. I can sit in silence and just think and think and think – one of its positive effects is that I get to sleep quickly, easily, and deeply as a result (my ex hated that, though, because I snore too). And I blog, deliberately trying to limit it to things that have a point, but being sick right now, finding that I have a lot of points to make. Because again, I always have points to make. I have an opinion on every damn thing.
I dropped N.A because, as someone with the same problem, I realized he was making me masturbatory, fighting for no reason, with no point or end in sight. I can’t do that, dude. I have to get a life. I’m trying to do one “positive” thing a day now, whether it’s working on a story (I really want to get back into writing – for real – in the long run) or messaging someone on OKCupid because I don’t want this to be my existence. Sure, my best days may be behind me, but my health is better, I’m not ugly, and I know that at this point, most girls are on their second time around. My ex just had her second kid since we broke up; a friend of mine from grad school recently got divorced (from another friend! What a bummer that was!) herself. To coin a phrase, I’m tired of dancing here all by myself. Tonight, I wanna dance with someone else.
Besides, if I can’t beat the impulse, there’s always Twitter… 😉