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Friends like these - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Friends like these
As far as I can tell, nearly everybody on LiveJournal thinks that calling the list of watched journals a "friends" list is a big glaring misnomer. But fortunately most of the people I know aren't naïve enough to infer from the liberal (mis)use of words like "friends" and "community" that by joining LiveJournal they will instantly enter into a glorious utopia where they're showered with love by people who were previously strangers to them.

Unfortunately, this doesn't make it any more pleasant when people who I regard as real friends in real life decide to tell me that I'm a worthless friend because I don't follow up to their last post on LiveJournal. I didn't realise that when they voluntarily joined LiveJournal I had entered into a contract to a) read every new update to their journal as soon as it was posted, b) follow up to every post, c) guess that a fairly generic-looking paddy about the technical crapness of LiveJournal and NTL is actually a hugely emotional trauma about the failure of a community to nurture and support them, or d) chase them up on email and implore them to return to LiveJournal.

If people don't want to use LiveJournal, then fine. I don't see it as an alternative to friendship, merely another way of keeping in touch with people. Some of my friends don't have mobile phones, so I don't text them. Some of them don't use email, so I phone them and meet them face-to-face occasionally instead. If a friend decides, for example, that having a mobile phone is a bad investment of their time/money, then I'm not going to run after them screaming "NO! NO! Don't give up the mobile phone! How will I ever keep in touch with you?", I'll just contact them another way.

That is, if they still want to keep in touch.

Current Mood: hurt, bitter, the usual

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Comments
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: August 28th, 2003 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
It may be no coincidence that the friends from school I'm still in touch with are the ones who got e-mail accounts in 1996. Livejournal may well be starting to go the same way as more and more social events are being organised via this medium, especially the clubbing of the London variety.

Thinking not about when you're static for a long time in the same place, but when you move, most of the friends that you keep are the ones you have ongoing contact with for some reason other than location.

The technomentalists would certainly say this is good and proper - the future is to forge friendship groups based on common interests, rather than common geography. The Eurosceptic in me agrees, but the bit of me that pays the train fare to London is less convinced. I'm also wondering what proportion of my friendslist (yes, it conflates 'diaries I want to read' with 'diaries I want to be read by') falls into the categories

a) People I was already in regular close contact with
b) People I knew but didn't actually speak to often
c) People I knew as friends of friends but didn't know well
d) People who shared common interests who I had never heard of

ramblerambleramble.
acronym From: acronym Date: August 28th, 2003 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)

It may be no coincidence that the friends from school I'm still in touch with are the ones who got e-mail accounts in 1996. Livejournal may well be starting to go the same way as more and more social events are being organised via this medium


I'd noticed this, which is why I started reading LJ. It's not a medium I'm very comfortable with, but there's a large degree of social pressure when the majority of one's peer group is using it - not least because it's assumed that everyone is entirely up to date on the minutiae of each other's lives as a result, which is not really a safe assumption. When people are having to participate in a medium they don't really enjoy in order to avoid being excluded, then you know that within that community, it has critical mass. The problem j4 describes then happens; the unspoken assumption of the biggest LJ fans that everyone is constantly up to date with it begins to tread on peoples' toes, and you have a large number of people using the service with very different expectations and frequencies which they are naturally going to tend to project onto other people. The upshot of this is, as ever, that people get hurt; that seems to be a universal constant.

The LJ concept of friends is pretty confused, too; I'd (waves hands) guess that most people are actually close friends with maybe 10% of their friendslist, if that. It's really a "subscriber" list.
lnr From: lnr Date: August 28th, 2003 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to say that was more or less my reaction too, though I feel like I have less right to feel pissed off about it, through being a less close friend in the first place, if that makes any sense.

I hope you're not going to get yourself into trouble geeking in work hours again. I don't want to nag but... Just thought I'd check.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 28th, 2003 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
being a less close friend in the first place

I'm starting to feel like I really don't know what constitutes a "close friend" any more. :-(

I hope you're not going to get yourself into trouble geeking in work hours again.

Now that I have email at work again, I can use Outlook's schedule thingy to check when Gawen is in meetings. And I'm reading/posting LiveJournal in an IE window that's only about 1.5 inches high. And the only thing that reassures me that I'm not going insane is that I still occasionally think "I'm going insane" when I find that I'm feeling paranoid about reading man pages while Gawen's at his desk, because scrolling through them looks a bit like reading news/email, and when I find myself wondering exactly how many minutes of work time I'm stealing by walking to the drinks machine and getting a coffee, and things like that.

But thank you for reminding me that I do need to be careful.
lnr From: lnr Date: August 28th, 2003 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking more of close as an adjective, than of "close friend" as compound noun, if you see what I mean. I don't know if you'd consider yourself a "close friend" to Kate or J-P (I would have thought you were) but you're clearly closer to them than I am.

I think I know what you mean though.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 28th, 2003 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking more of close as an adjective

I see what you mean about the distinction, but I mean I'm not sure what "close" really means in the context of a friendship any more. Or a relationship for that matter. I feel like I'm drifting away (or, worse, exploding away) from so many people who are (were?) "close friends" at the moment and does that mean they weren't good friends really? or does it mean I was a crap friend to them? or just that people change and grow apart? or that people fall out sometimes & there's nothing you can do about it? (and how much was the friendship really worth if you can fall out completely over something trivial and stupid?) or just that sometimes people need a break from being in each other's pockets all the time? or what? And I know it's really "does it *count*" blah blah sorrel to be trying to define it at all, but at the same time it just leaves me feeling horribly insecure about everything, and while I don't want to do "Six Different Types Of Friendship: An Asperger's Guide" I do want to understand why everything seems to be going so wrong at the moment.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 28th, 2003 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
checked out ghostzilla?
From: tamsinj Date: August 28th, 2003 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
personally i find it quite deeply 'wrong' to use 'friend list' as a synonym for 'list of interesting people who put things on a diary occasionally'. wrong in that i'm very uncomfortable with both the term, and 'friending' people i don't know.

and the directional nature of these links seems to cause a "i
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<linked/friended>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

personally i find it quite deeply 'wrong' to use 'friend list' as a synonym for 'list of interesting people who put things on a diary occasionally'. wrong in that i'm very uncomfortable with both the term, and 'friending' people i don't know.

and the directional nature of these links seems to cause a "i <linked/friended> you, you must me!" that's present in every medium like this (CHP mindscape links, web page links, lj friends lists etc etc) which is pretty irksome too.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: August 28th, 2003 07:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm right with you on this; am thinking of modifying my policy again to say

a) if work gets busy, I'll start pruning based on volume people post
b) if it happens that I get savagely depressed any time soon, I may temporarily stop reading anyone on my list who happens also to be depressed for fear of the very real danger negative feedback presents me with
c) if you have ego issues with either of these statements, they're your problem, not mine.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 28th, 2003 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)
a) if work gets busy, I'll start pruning based on volume people post

In my case it's also a question of "If $boss is at his desk or [worse] comes to talk to me I will not be able to do any email/LJ/news/irc/etc., because if $boss sees me doing it I will lose my job; so I may have to just vanish in the middle of conversations with no explanation".

[...]
c) if you have ego issues with either of these statements, they're your problem, not mine.

I wouldn't want to imply (I'm not sure whether or not you are doing so...) that anybody having a problem with these statements had "ego issues" -- if you-when-depressed stop reading other-depressed-people, then you're potentially already in some kind of feedback loop.

I find that what happens (and this is a recognised pattern rather than a reference to a specific person) is something like this:

1. I realise that reading X's communications in medium Y make me stressed and depressed, because X is depressed, so I stop reading them for a while.
2. X (who is, after all, depressed) assumes that I am ignoring them, and tries to contact me in medium Z, usually with "Where are you?" or "Do you hate me now?", or something similarly reply-requiring.
3. I reply and explain that conversation in medium Y was stressing me out, and I didn't feel able to reply to it.
4. The conversation gradually moves from "urgent request for contact" to being exactly the same type of conversation (in medium Z) as was depressing me and stressing me out in medium Y.
5. Rinse, repeat.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: August 28th, 2003 09:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't want to imply (I'm not sure whether or not you are doing so...) that anybody having a problem with these statements had "ego issues" -- if you-when-depressed stop reading other-depressed-people, then you're potentially already in some kind of feedback loop.

I think I may just be talking about what you talk about below, in different words.

I do have a problem, though, if I say "I need to stop talking to person X [ or to person X about issue Y ] for specific reason Z to do with how I feel right now, and will come back as soon as I can", and person X insists on hearing that as a value judgement of them, or of how I feel about them, or of how important they are to me - which is essentially accusing me of lying when I go to the effort of explaining reason Z. The degree to which I am willing to put up with that grows ever less as I get older.

Fortunately, the simple application of Darwinian principles over time means I don't have many people in my life who do that any more. Ye gods it can hurt when they do though. I really hate people forcing their models of emotional reality onto the way my mind works.

[ There's also "I would rather not read your journal right now because I could really do with some time to calm down about the particular argument we're having or I might lose my temper in ways that could end the friendship." I like to think that any sensible person reading that would hear it as about me doubting myself and valuing the friendship enough not to want to hurt it.]
rejs From: rejs Date: August 28th, 2003 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Personally I view LJ as a means of being in touch with various folk with whom I am to a greater or lesser extent acquainted, but there are bits I'll miss out on (just as I might miss out on conversation in the pub through going to queue at the bar or whatever).

I might go for a few days without reading it at all, I might neglect to catch up on everything, and even if I'm keeping up to date there's stuff I skim over because it doesn't leap out at me as being earthshaking news or something I feel obliged to concern myself with. As for comments on other people's entries, I frequently bypass them entirely and rarely look at comments on one entry more than once, unless I've contributed to it. Now if some person happens to object to that, well it's tough. It's my LJ and I'll read if I want to, or something like that. I have other things to do, and there are a finite number of minutes in the day.

*hugs*
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