Thursday, October 6, 2011

Friends Like Us


The incomparable Kurt Vonnegut wrote that he knew what married couples were actually arguing about when they fought. They may have been saying, “You stay out too late!” but what they meant was, “You’re not enough people!”  The first time I read that I was fully in “Kurt Vonnegut Can Do No Wrong” mode (I hope I always will be in that mode) but I didn’t entirely agree with that statement. In my defense, I was newly married and certain that my wife would be all I ever needed. Silly me. As you well know, my wife is herself incomparable, and is my savior…but she’ll never be everything I need. And I’ll never be everything she needs. That’s impossible nonsense. Vonnegut was right again.  His point was that families had gotten so small, and people had become so isolated, that many marriages couldn’t stay standing when the winds started blowing.  You, dear reader, are a human. You need people you can laugh and cry with; you need many people in your life— people who are making the same mistakes you are-- assuring you that you’re not alone.  Without all those people you’ll start feeling lonely, even if you’re in love with one person.  And what happens when you feel lonely even when you’re in love with one person? A lot of things that make staying in love with one person pretty damn hard.

I didn’t start writing my blog so that I could meet people. I started it because there was a writer in me who needed to get out. But I was a lonely stay-at-home dad and there was more than a little part of me who wanted to be involved in the world.  I wanted my words to go out into the world and mingle, bringing me with them. As popular as blogging and social media are these days everyone knows that people who rely on them for social interaction are losers right?  Social media are merely the next in the line of technological advances designed to keep us inside, in the dark and alone right?  Wrong.

For a few decades, Vonnegut was right. Americans didn’t have enough people.  Family’s dispersed and shrunk.  People lived in their basements in front of television sets. Yes and televisions turned people into zombies, sucking life and giving nothing but a few laughs in return.  And wives looked across the blue glow and saw dipshits sitting there like lazy, boring dipshits. And men looked over and saw women who drove them nuts and who wouldn’t stop trying to tell them stupid shit.  And you know what happened to marriages.   Husbands and wives needed someone to whom they could vent their frustrations.  They needed people who would make them feel less lonely. And they did not have them. Can a marriage be saved if each partner has 10 minutes a day to vent to someone else?  Yes.  One can relieve a lot of pressure in 10 minutes. Imagine shoveling shit out of your house so it’s not in there stinking everything up. Ahhhh.

Enter Facebook.  And more people.  Don’t get me wrong, Facebook cannot replace good old-fashioned, in-the-flesh, friends and family.  But it really can add people to your life.   I have met some good people on Facebook with whom I’ve had very real, very deep conversations.  And I’m sure I’ve met some fake people, too. But who cares if they are real people or people pretending to be someone else?  I am “friends” with a few celebrities on Facebook.  Because there is really no way of knowing if they really are who they claim to be there are many people who don’t believe them.  And they think those of us who are the celebrity’s “friends” are stupid sheep.  My response:  I’m not following this celebrity over a cliff; I’m having a few laughs before bed. What the hell do I care if it really is a celebrity who is making me laugh? I don’t.  It is a person, an interaction, a human connection.  And when I climb into bed and whisper to my wife, “Jason Bateman thinks I’m funny,” she smiles and says, “me too.”  And I realize that my wife is my biggest fan, and I’m happy.

6 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Tom! I totally agree. I've been lamenting smaller, more dispersed families for years, and Facebook and blogging have added a richness to my social life that I would never have found by signing up for a class at my library or hanging out at the local watering hole.

    I still need touches and squeezes and to play hide the sausage, and that's where my fiancee comes in. She means the world to me, but she can't be everything to me. It would unrealistic and unfair of me to think so.

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  2. P.S. The last couple of lines made me do a happy li'l giggle. Oh, and "it would BE unrealistic..."

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  3. And here I thought the "You're not enough people" meant that I was just annoyed that he wasn't getting enough stuff done around the house and needed to outsource.

    Of course, then if we outsource something, I feel guilty the whole time because it's something we "should" be able to do ourselves, and why are we any better than the people we're paying to do this, we should just buck up and get it done.

    And then we decide to actually do it ourselves but never finish it.

    And the world goes round and round and round. . .

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  4. Bravo!!!! <standing ovation

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