I’ve got this routine. WordPress, Facebook, Twitter. I do this slowly, wanting to savor the alerts. The WordPress red dot, the numbers in the Facebook and Twitter bells. These are my social media. No Instagram, that’s where my kids hang out. I don’t want to crash their party. I do it again. WordPress, Facebook, Twitter. I’m not a popular guy. There’s not much to see.
Susan commended me today on my relationships. “You’re so awesome at keeping in touch.” This made no sense. My last social engagement was months ago. She’s the one who keeps up with her friends. They meet at the Ugly Mug for afternoon tea. During French Month, they go to the Majestic Theater and watch the films. On rare occasions, she meets her crowd for a drink. Bedtime is early in our house. It’s hard to get out at night. Sometimes she just hooks up with a friendly text.
I check my laptop: WordPress, Facebook, Twitter.
We walked our daily loop, layered against the cold. “No, your online friends, you’re always in touch with them.” Last week, in separate blogs, I read about two different in-person encounters of blogging friends. A planned meeting between faceless correspondents. It’s something I’ve considered. A chance to improve my relationships. Or a chance to ruin them.
Not so long ago, things were different. A couple games of racquetball, a shower, then some beers. Friends would drop by for wine and gossip on the porch. Sometimes we’d go to parties, mingle, drink, chat. The change was alcohol—I stopped drinking it. Friday night is now at home with a book. And of course, WordPress… and Facebook… and Twitter.
A blast of arctic air, the thermometer in free-fall today, three to four degrees an hour. We hunch into the wind. “Some of them actually make the jump, they get together, they meet the bloggers.” Treading nervously now. I feel like saying this out loud is violating an unspoken blogging rule.
“Maybe you should try that.”
I remember my last night with alcohol. Annette came over for a drink. A mediocre bottle of Merlot was already open. Annette brought a white, and Susan drank beer. It seemed wasteful to open the Zinfandel in the cabinet, a bottle put away for a special occasion. I opted for the Merlot. Months later, I gave the Zinfandel away. That was the last time I hung out with Annette. I don’t even see her on Facebook.
“If I met the bloggers in real life, we would need to talk. I’d disappoint them.” Statements like this annoy Susan. I shut myself off before I even try. But in real life, without a drink, I feel awkward. I overthink the conversation. When I’m online, I feel like I can be me.