I’m thankful I’m living in a time when the internet and social media are so widely used. I’m thankful for the connectedness with people and access to information they bring. In many ways it’s been an amazing thing for me, and a medium where I feel much more comfortable sharing my thoughts without the anxiety of thinking on the spot while a person or 3 stare into my soul. For most of us, access to information isn’t a luxury of sorts essentially reserved for those who have time and money to buy books or browse libraries – the internet is an equalizer when used responsibly. We’ve also probably all heard the saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and for me the internet and the connections made on it have provided an ongoing solution of sorts to that problem: though there’s still plenty of things I’m completely clueless about, at least I know of more things I don’t know, so I’m more aware of my ignorance, making it easier to take a back seat and listen instead of “boldly going” and looking the fool. So when I say what I’m going to say I don’t mean it to be a shaking of the fist at the changing times. I just found something which has been painfully true for me, an introvert who grew up in a cult and has a fair share of social anxiety and confidence issues.
As effective a tool the internet can be for enlightening and changing minds, for someone like me who spends a lot of time in his own head and letting very few people into that world, a few years of time traveling on the ol’ Information Highway is a heckuva lotta time in the fast lane, while family, friends, church, and, yes, even the missus aren’t necessarily traveling at the same speed, or even on the same road. Sure, I’ve met and caravanned with some good folks along the way, but given the nature of the medium, these folks aren’t necessarily present in the same way family, church, job, or community will be. These folks are (hopefully) on their own trajectories, and unless I’m sharing my self-discoveries and epiphanies along the way in a reasonable time frame, it doesn’t take long for that distance to quietly grow. Then one day you start realizing just how far you’ve gone. Suddenly you realize how alone you’ve become around many people who perhaps you’ve known all your life.
So that’s where I’ve found myself. In some instances losing any sense of safety or freedom to be myself. Wondering how the heck to start bridging the gaps, or where to start to bring people up to speed. Whether they will understand. Do they even notice a change? Are they “worth it” – is this someone I even need a relationship with, or have I slowly come to realize their beliefs or behaviors are toxic or simply diametrically in opposition to where I find myself? Do I still have a voice with them? Do I value their perspective anymore? For some, I feel I’ve become the very thing we were warned against, whether politically, ethically, or theologically. Before I know it, I’ve already assumed rejection and condemnation – like my parents’ pastor, whose “child of the devil” definition fits me like I was born for it. Others, it’s usually more subtle than that, but the same anxiety, sense of loss, and loneliness clouds the water, and rarely does a sense of belonging rest.
I guess it is what it is at this point, as I move forward. One more thing to learn. Knowing what I know, for better or for worse, there’s no going back to the way things were.