As I write this, I’m holed up in the utility room at work. I’m sitting on the floor wedged between a big ol’ decommissioned router and a broken desk. The lights are off, so unless you were standing in front of me, you’d never know I was here even if you were in the room too. If I died right now it would take hours, if not days, for anybody to discover where I am. I end up in this spot 2 or 3 times a week.
Because fuck you, everybody. That’s why.
Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but things often get to the point where I have to pull the lever on the ejection seat. The need to get away from everyone is urgent, and it presents itself with mild dizziness and a rushing sound in my ears. I guess I don’t have a fully developed coping mechanism when it comes to the frustrations of social interaction. I never needed to develop it, because as a kid I could simply go to my room and close the door, and nobody would bug me. My parents understood, despite the fact that they both grew up with siblings. That’s probably why I love the digital world so much. It makes escape fast and easy.
Earlier in the week, I posted a “based on real events” transcript of a phone conversation I had at work in which I had a disagreement with “a client”. Well holy shit, that backfired. I thought it was an amusing bit of dialogue, but pretty soon I was mired in this tedious back and forth with a bunch of people who thought I was being an asshole, and were offering up un-solicited advice and opinions on better ways to deal with situations like that. I’ll take responsibility for being crabby and venting on Facebook, but you fuckers can take responsibility for drawing out what was clearly a situation presented for your amusement and making it something it was never intended to be. Pretty soon, some guy who I don’t even remember meeting was calling me out. Here we were, less than a week into the new year with all it’s fresh happiness and new hope, and I was already blocking somebody on Facebook. No exaggeration; my block list has almost twice as many people on it as my friends list. Most of them are “friends of friends” who’ve made astoundingly horrible/boring/hackneyed/low IQ comments on my friends posts. For what it’s worth, I hardly ever block actual friends.
I didn’t post that conversation with an invitation for others to present their perspective. I’m fully aware that the presence of a “comment” box under every post is an implied invitation to offer feedback, and is a core mechanism of “social media”, however the urge to actually comment should be tempered by your knowledge of somebody’s personality. Anybody who knows me should know that “if I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it” is standard operating procedure. I’ll literally say “What do you guys think?” if I want to know. If I don’t ask, I don’t want to know what your opinion is.
Earlier today, there was an innocuous little exchange on a mailing list I’m a member of. For some reason, it infuriated me. I recognized that I was “in a mood”, but I still had no further interest in participating in that particular conversation. Within seconds, I had an email filter in place that automatically archived any mail from that list. I’ll probably go back and look at all the archived messages later, because the mailing list is comprised of my oldest and dearest friends. I love them like family. They also bug the shit out of me sometimes, just like family.
Both of these situations are good examples of why I very often prefer digital interaction to personal interaction. I can withdraw quickly. I can filter and block with impunity. Lots of people seem to think that’s a weakness on my part. That I should “learn how to deal”. Which brings me to my main point; I don’t have to “learn how to deal”. I don’t want to. I have other, more interesting things I’d rather spend my energy on, and a large percentage of them only exist inside my own brain. One-on-one human human interaction is often exhausting for me. I like being able to control it’s duration and content, and I like being able to avoid it entirely when I need to.
I want people to like me, and I like having friends, so it’s not entirely accurate to say I don’t care if people think I’m an asshole, because I do care. I just don’t care enough to change my personality to pacify anybody.
I know this post seems very self-involved, and I’m under no illusion that you care about what I have to say. You shouldn’t. That’s not why I wrote it. I wrote it because I know I’m not the only person who’s like this. If you’re like this too, I want you to read this and understand that the way you are is OK. You’re not alone, even though it feels like it sometimes. It’s OK to withdraw, and my opinion is that you should never be made to feel like you have to apologize for that.