I still remember when Facebook first came out. My younger sister and I were in those high school years I keep talking about, and my older sister was in college. When she got a Facebook account, I remember my mother being shocked and kind of appalled at the notion you could just get on the computer and see the details about someone’s life like that.
Now, of course, that’s the norm. People have made careers out of that, and other people have made careers from being trolls to other people on the Internet. To say nothing of the hobby version of it.
I was thinking about that tonight as I sit in front of Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Of all the social media sites, it’s the one I think I love-hate the most. I can see stuff from friends of friends and their friends, too, if their friends haven’t gone through and made everything private. And it doesn’t even tell these people I’ve seen their profiles, like LinkedIn does (LinkedIn is annoying like that.)
I also use Facebook for marketing, since I am an author. (You might have noticed.) That is my overall justification for it. That, and I have a lot of friends who live all over the country. Several of my favorite people are two or more time zones away, and of course, my family is mostly on Facebook now – though my mother still is not.
My thoughts have settled down on something I want people to realize and think about. I’m talking about loneliness.
I’ve been depressed before, and I’ve been lonely before. I am very glad I didn’t have Facebook until I was in college. I’d started writing in high school, largely because I was lonely, and had published my first book just as my senior year came to an end. If I had Facebook then, I think I would’ve wasted a lot of my time on it. Writing for me does become more difficult if I have my social media links up. But I think also actually engaging with people becomes harder, too.
I’m sitting here writing this as my family is asleep. I feel lonely. I am a bit lonely, in general, as a Level 0 introvert. I like keeping to myself, so more often than not, I’ve learned how to be invisible, and to make myself inauspicious. It’s a great power, and when people underestimate you for it later, it’s hilarious to have them realize they were wrong. I know I’m a terrible person for admitting that. To make it seem less terrible, I describe it as “justifiable revenge” being rot.
I think in a world where so many people have access to so many other people, loneliness is not actually a bad thing. It can be, by there’s a negative stigma attached to it I don’t think it deserves.
I know it from firsthand experience: Depression and loneliness are not the same thing.
Being lonely does not mean something is wrong with you, or people don’t like you (not necessarily, anyway.) I encourage you tonight to find the good things which reside at the center of being alone.
For me, being lonely gives you a chance to find your own voice, probably buried under a few others. Even without Facebook, when I look my pile of laundry, it’s always my mother’s voice I hear, telling me how many loads I’m going to need to do, and why I need to get them done, and so on and so forth. It also gives me a chance to be more honest, and be more of myself. Don’t get me wrong, the people I love know me well, but it’s one thing to know someone is thinking something and another thing for them to have said it. Tonight, now, as I am alone, I can think about my future, I can dream about my next manuscript, I can make plans, and I can do as I please, without being interrupted by my children as they climb over me or break into the fridge or chase our pets around. I don’t have to worry about my husband asking me what I want for dinner or if I’d paid the bills yet. Telling any one of them to shut up and leave me alone while I am working is not part of who I am, even though I want to be able to work diligently and consistently, without being interrupted.
The next time you feel lonely, and you think it’s a bad thing, I hope you’ll remember this give yourself more of a chance.