Yes, I have an imaginary friends. I must be going nuts or something, but that reality is becoming more and more obvious. I thought this things just happened when you a are a child. I see my daughter sometimes talking to people who is not there, as far as I know. They have different names, they tell her things, she plays with them, or she runs away scared. When this happens, I cannot avoid some strange feeling. Maybe, there was someone there, next to my daughter.
Anyone with children has had this experience. It is a very usual phenomenon, a child’s imagination is completely out of control, as it needs to be, and when you become older, your own self-control and awareness of reality makes this things more difficult to happen. At least, that’s what I thought. I’m almost 40, and long time ago I stopped playing with cuddly toys and LEGO (although I like LEGO still and I find broken old cuddly toys heartbreaking). I don’t consider myself a very imaginative person though.
Then, why at this age I’m thinking I have imaginary friends? What has happened in my mind lately to make me think so. Enter Social networks vs Real life. Everybody this days is into social networks. Facebook, twitter, google, etc… The first thing I find funny is calling this social. Social for me is hanging out with friends or colleagues and chat about whatever comes across. Social is receiving an invitation for a dinner in some friends house. Social is doing a bbq in your garden, if the weather is right (oh, the weather). Social is inviting someone to your house or a restaurant or a pub to have lunch. Social is going with other people to places or just have a walk. Social is to meet new people, like when you start a new job in a foreign country.
All that, and a few more things, mean social to me, while seating in a computer reading status updates I don’t care about, laughing at the nth version of the latest meme, browsing pictures of holidays taken who knows where, or parties you haven’t been invited to, is not. At least not for me.
When I started using facebook, I thought it was great. I did what most people do. Added as friends some real friends I had close to me at that moment. Also, I added some work colleagues, not thinking first, what if they know about… whatever, It doesn’t matter. Also I started looking for people who I knew in the past. I have lived in a few different places along my life. It is always hard to move to another place and more so if you lose contact with people who at that point in your life was important to you for any reason. Old friends, old girlfriends, old crushes… old things generally speaking. I think everybody using this social networks have added at some point this kind of old people. Why? I don’t know, maybe you still have hope to continue things were you left them, maybe you are just curious about their lives, possibly you are a secret stalker. And lastly, I added some family to the mix. That would work right, I though…
Now a bit of culture shock. When I first knew about Facebook, I was living in Spain. Maybe its the weather, maybe its the people, I have no clear idea what it is, but people there is quite different. I know it sounds stereotype, but it’s that way. In three years living here I have met some people from different places, and there are some clear differences. Being myself Spanish, I know there are things, or ways of being and behave here, that I still don’t get. And I’m not talking about just being more introverted or extroverted. In fact, I am more the former. But I care about simple things like saying good morning or asking about the weekend, things that most of my colleagues at work just seem to ignore. Just a tiny example, a tiny detail that can drive a Spanish guy completely crazy. Here it looks much more difficult to know about someone in an informal conversation. You may end thinking that everybody ignores you, or that everybody is quite reserved, as the stereotype says. Everything can change in a pub though, under some alcohol influence. Then you really start knowing people. More so, if you manage to understand a word of what they say, a skill not taught in English schools in Spain.
And there is another place where people here seem to expose themselves really well, which is… Facebook. People here disclose all sorts of personal issues using Facebook. You know about birthdays, holidays, divorces, engagements, weddings, births, all sort of mental health issues, political and religious views (another kind of mental health issues), etc…, more from reading your wall than from real conversations with people. And it looks perfectly normal. To me, it doesn’t. It is not that I am not interested in those things. It is the way I get to know about them, reading a website, and not with a coffee (or tea, or beer) at hand listening to a real person in front of me. I find something weird about this kind of social interaction.
While these facebook/twitter/whatever sessions it is like entering into Matrix. You escape from the real world to the world of disclosed thoughts and musings in a website. And it is al-right. The wrong part for me comes when that becomes the only way of interaction with them. And in a foreign place, given the usual language and cultural differences, that can happen quite easily.
Hey, you are writing about some personal things in your blog! Yes I do but I find posting things in a blog a bit different. I am not forcing anyone to read them. And as far as I now, none of my followers knows me in real life (well, that may not be strictly true) . And what this blog is most about is pictures I’ve taken. It clearly says that in the title, top left corner. I write about things that maybe are interesting to people but I don’t expect much in exchange. And I write here because I enjoy having conversations with my imaginary friends… 😉