My buddy Glen has got me to thinking about people. In my life. And how there seem to be less of them than there used to be.
Oh, it is not as if I do not know more people than ever. The magical world of Social Media will do that for you. I literally have acquaintances on six of the seven continents at this point. I believe my "People Who Follow You" on Facebook are more than my graduating class at this point.
Yet at the same time, I find more and more that I desire to spend less and less time with people.
I am happy to follow them from afar. And Facebook (and let us be fair, many blogs) are an easy way for me to do such a thing. And it is nice to keep in touch at some level with what is going on in many people's lives. But following people from a distance is not the same as having them involved in your life.
Part of it, as Glen pointed out, is simply that we have become very polarized as a society. We have lost the ability to hold the tension between friendship and beliefs and so have tipped the pendulum completely to beliefs. We get along, for the most part, right up to the moment that we discuss politics or religion or guns or half a dozen other things that will result in one being drummed out of the inner circle. And one does not wish to spend one's time arguing all the time. The result is we have created a society that is very adapted to the social media we have - surface involvement, minimal contact, everyone wishing rainbows and Skittles across the board.
We seem busier than ever before as well, and busy with something often means no time with someone. Being a mobile society does not lend itself to this as well, as it becomes painfully easy to lose track of old friends as shared activities are no longer shared and you are sharing more old memories than making new ones. Busy means making choices about our time as well, because time is that one commodity that we cannot manufacture more of no matter how much we try to squeeze in.
The upshot, in my own life, has been almost a complete moving away from virtually everyone I associated with in my life even as shortly as a year ago.
Truly. I have two friends I regularly communicate with on a daily basis. I have social media acquaintances and work acquaintances. I have my fellow Iai students that I see two hours a week, the rabbit volunteers I see every Sunday, and the Church folks I see weekly for an hour or two. I have all of you, of course. Beyond that, it is really just the dog and the rabbits and my family.
Perhaps the remarkable part is this does not bother me all that much.
I am not quite sure why, and that surprises me as well. 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, such a thing would have seemed to be anathema to me. "What will I do without friends? That will be the end of me! Who will I do things with? Who will I share with?" But it seems that somewhere inside I managed to make peace with that.
(Oddly enough, I feel closer to some of you through your blogs and comments than people I have known for years. That also strikes me as something worthy of further consideration).
There is a bubble being created - I would suspect for more than would admit it in public - a continued pulling away from the larger society of interaction and a focus on the smaller few, or maybe even on the none. Like most other movements, it will never be noticed by those that are the most loud and vocal - until they realized they are talking in an echo chamber and that so many people - the thinkers, the philosophers, the doers - have slipped off into their own associations and projects, leaving only a dim resonance of their passage.