This isn’t one of those regular “keepin’ you updated” articles, but rather one that is simply one of those famous Jordan “Op-Ed” articles about the internet that is essentially a wall of text.
To sum it up We are lonely.
We are online, all the time, we have social media, we try and interact with people, “make friends” and whatever it is that you decide to do. But the truth is - no matter what you do online, you are lonely.
I honestly have always felt alone, isolated, especially online. I think it’s because it’s just one keyboard one monitor (or a phone sometimes) and you are making pixels for somebody to say.
In the early days of the internet, with the BBS systems and email, communication was what worked. And online, we were really shocked that people liked comic books and video games, and horror movies. We called these people “friends”, exchanged emails, and sometimes “met-up” at conventions.
Even back then, we were lonely.
Bring it up to speed, to 2018. We are living in what amounts to hell. If you are one of those rich kids of instagram taking your 20th selfie on a yacht, you are trying to create a false persona of who you are, in the hope of getting people to like you (or most-likely, get a company to like you enough because of your numbers to get a #sponsored post for money)
If you are a let’s player, or twitch streamer, you start out just wanting to show off a game ‘for the fun’ and eventually, you see you are getting number (might be 4, might be 40, maybe 4000), eventually, the idea of twitch making you a partner, and having people subscribe to you? Well, you might have a side-job now, it’s time to get people to like you more, so you decide to stream instead of for 3 hours, for 12 hours, almost like a full-time job. You are getting tips, and now you gotta get people to like you, so you are shouting-out people in the chatroom to get people to like you… but you are ultimately just behind a greenscreen talking to a webcam.
Or maybe you are one of these people who donate to patreons, one of the people who use social media and love #Content, we are now living in a new world where it’s not so much the movies or games that are the content - but the people who CONSUME the content. E-Sports athletes, Movie Reviewers, Podcasters, you name it, they now have communities. It’s okay, we are all guilty of this. Maybe they follow-back, or did give YOU the shout-out.
Guess what? You’re still alone.
When it comes to “social media” we have become facsimiles of ourselves, the kind of people we WISH to be. Or the kind of people we WANT people to think we are. If you’re on instagram, make the sexiest selfies to sell your OnlyFans page. If you’re a funny comedian, make sure you sell your comedy Podcast on Patreon (or work a deal with a podcast network, to show “we are all friends” instead of y’know, just synergy)
Rather you are one of these “1A Patriot MAGA” assholes trying to give-off this perception of a total badass (instead of reality - constant bedwetter with possible PTSD), or one of these gamergate reactionaries whenever a woman or minority is in something you like (when we know the truth is, you’re alone, and scared and don’t have that many women and minority friends and because you were raised in a Fox News paranoia household, you assume everybody is out to get you). Conversely, if you are a liberal doing charity work, you want people to see how charitable you are, you want people to see “you are helping”. Or if you are a dorky leftist, maybe you do stuff and tweet stuff to show that “you have changed for the better”. It’s all trying to sell yourself, and it’s AWFUL.
I can’t do that anymore, I don’t think I could ever. I am bad at hustling. I am REALLY bad at lying.
All I gotta say is - we’ve all been that. We’ve all done that. Even if we are trying to give off this tough guy “lone wolf” alpha-male awooo persona, or a “i don’t give a fuck about anybody but me” persona - nah, you want people to think that about you. Everybody is lonely, and trying to find some way to not be lonely.
Rather that is love, which is simply become a hack comedy joke at this point about ghosting, and sexting and all that.
Or just trying to be popular (because let’s face it, that’s pretty much the direction of entertainment - if you aren’t a million follower person, you don’t deserve an agent or manager) while competing against Netflix for MY attention.
Or the worst one - friendships. Are facebook friends your friends? If a twitter person follows back, are “mutuals” your friends? Do you hang out? Get lunch? Wish happy birthday? It really depends. Why is it most of the content we consume online is conversations? We consume RedLetterMedia, GiantBomb, RoosterTeeth, or (Insert your favorite podcast here) because we are gravitated by these people talking. We see them having fun and want to be friends with. That’s the selling point - you wanting to be their friends.
For these people, they might not understand it at first, they just see it as “people are interested in what we have to say” but slowly but surely, you will find people will figure out what to do next. Rather that’s become a conservative grifter and sell topical cream, sell merch involving popular catch phrases from their show, or have a fucking convention (or go to conventions) so you can “meet up” (once again, forming a “relationship”, but one that isn’t a friendship)
And the truth is I don’t have that many friends. I don’t have that many friends “in real life” (I think maybe 10, at most), and coming from an area with not much to do. All there is is watch movies and go get a hot dog at 7-eleven. I’m a freelance, so I only have people I worked with, but this is LA, everybody is spread out. Mostly I write, which means I am by-myself throughout.
Maybe i could take this to a starbucks coffee, and drink a frappe while typing, what a difference, it seems like I am a real “happenin’ dude”, or maybe at a park, so i can see ducks quack near a fountain.
But that’s okay, because social media is here, and they are going to try and make you friends, because of an algorithm of what you watch and consume and post, they assume you will like other things and make friends that way (and make money off you though advertising)
But as far as “online friends” are concerned, I think that number is probably the same as real friends. We all have that one “group chat” of people we like the most enough to call “friends” and keep in touch. Or those 2 or 3 people we Direct-Message constantly on Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Even on times when I was in a full-relationship, this loneliness hit me.
And coming from a guy with little family, all you have is friends,
but with little friends, what do you have?
I know. It sounds depressing, and yes, I do get depressing thoughts. But it’s one of those social-things I just never understand, much like fan meet-ups, or “meet & greets” where you know the person will forget your name because they have a hundred other people to see that day.
Meet your internet personalities and make friends who also like said internet personality.
It’s all so strange to me, and I either am at that phase where I am just too old to understand, too cranky to accept people enjoy this, or too paranoid and assume this is just one extra way for people to make money, because we are in a Late-Stage Capitalist nightmare, where even internet personalities are getting screwed over by the tech bros in silicon valley, and this is the only way for them to make ends meet.
I think it’s some mix of all three. But all I know is that, at least for me, I am VERY frustrated. I think, ultimately, I am just not as talented as I have made myself out to be. I think everything I do is a waste of time and resources. I think I am pushing people away, and having even less friends. I think the internet makes you very insecure about your own talents. I think in “the real world” I would be out of my league, and be seen as somebody with impostor syndrome if I ever “made it” in anything. I think my honesty destroys bridges. I think lying hurts more than telling the truth. I know none of this matters. I know it’s going to be interpreted as either a depressing sadpost by some, an angry manifesto to others, or something that sounds like a sarcastic mockery of the internet by the rest. Living in isolation is not fun, but living in paranoia of if people actually like you or not, is worse.
The truth is - I am lonely.
But I am not alone.