I wanted to talk about LJ, briefly. That's right, you're reading something other than navel gazing OR political screeds. I'll give you a moment to compose yourselves. That better? Need a bit more? Breath in, breath out. You're a hollow reed (meditation technique from "Perfect Strangers," works every time.) Okay. Here we go.
I think that Livejournal social interactions are on the one hand fascinating and on the other rather sad. One of the things that makes me sad is when someone puts up a poll or a question asking for people to give their opinions, and they only get one or two responses. It's like a homeless man who sits down with a cup and rattles it, and then you come back a few hours later and he's got 70 cents. This happened to me recently, when I posted a poll to see what I should change the name of the journal to. I did this purely because people have been complaining and I'm not wedded to what it is, so I wanted to see if those who were disatisfied could do better. There was only a single serious answer and it was too dark for me to use, since I like the balance of a 'name' full of pathos and a journal title full of pompousness. Pomp and pathos, they go together. This was hardly an earth shattering ego-blow, but it does make me wince when I see this happen to others.
It generally occurs with people who have smaller "friends of" lists. There are about 25 people who read this journal on a semi-regular basis (my friends of says 42 but a lot of those are dead accounts, and then there are a couple lurkers out there in the shadows) On any entry except the most spectacular I can expect between 0 and 3 of them to comment, generally out of a group of about half a dozen who do so on a semi-regular basis. Now I'll grant that this is totally understandable. This journal does not invite discourse. Not only do I have a tendency to get a bit hotheaded at times (No, really, ME. Seriously. No joke.) but the subject matter also lends itself to read and run. Many of the posts are long and disjointed, and those that aren't are often not the sort of thing one can say much about. "Okay...so he hates himself and is mired in mediocrity and self-doubt. He also believes that the socioeconomic forces that interact with the minimum wage make it a difficult policy to judge. Ooo, look, the next person posted about puppies! I'll tell them that I also like puppies!" So let's say that the numbers would be higher were I not prone to obnoxiously verbose and dark writings. Let's say that on average 1 in 15 people that read a post comment on it. That means that if you want 4 responses to a poll question (the minimum to make it look well-recieved) you need like 60 friend-ofs, slightly above average. If you have 13, you might get no response. That looks very lonely. There's nothing wrong with having 13 friend-ofs. Maybe your journal's private, maybe you just use it to keep track of your life and not as a social tool or a place for pontification. Perhaps you don't update it as often as you might like because you're off having a life and picking up exotic women with model looks in exclusive bars. I don't know. The thing is, I feel bad for someone who has 13 people who claim to be their friend and nobody who wants to answer their question. It's probably just neurotic weirdness fueled by a solitary childhood, but that's what you read this journal for, right? So you can point and laugh at a psychic trainwreck and then go play croquet with Buffy at the Easterbrook club (I take it for granted that my entire 'readership' consists of young debutants. I think blorky pretends to be a pretty pretty princess when he's not powerlifting or immersing himself in science and Eastern philosophy) Nontheless I think it's indicative of the social patterns of the internet, which include loose anonymous attachements and the bandying about of the word "friend" like it carries no weight. One does not ask a question of 13 friends and get 0 responses. Friend here means aquaintance, or reader, or something of the ilk. It's a loose and easily severed relationship that can grow into more but doesn't necessarily. Some of my "friends" and I have never directly communicated.
This bothers me. I think friend should be something of a sacred word. It's cheapened by its use in formats like this. To the ancient Greeks friendship was the purest sort of love and the strongest bond a person could have with another. It was a thing of transcendant beauty and even divinity. Not something you obtain over the internet by clicking a button. I feel uncomfortable with the wording, and I know it's just a word and it doesn't mean anything but it bothers me. Friends are people you love and rely on. They matter to you, more, in some ways, than family members or lovers. Bros before Hoes. You can pick your nose, you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your parents. These are sarcastic or humorous but they have real meaning too. Lovers leave and enter. Family members you are required to love and tolerate no matter what shit they pull. Friends, though, that's a voluntary lasting association. Not the clicky flitting thing it is on LJ. I don't like that aspect of the social interaction.
All this is not a plea for more feedback or comments. This service is what it is. I'm glad for anyone who wants to read the crap I have to write, and I have no expectations. I just feel bad for the people with 13 friends and a question asked and no response. I probably shouldn't. They have real friends to ask questions of, and hot models to sleep with. That's cool. It's just that word.
It's a powerful word. To me.