An Open Letter To Former Net Acquaintances Who Are Such No Longer For Reasons Unknown
Dear Sir or Madam:
come hither - back off
Thank you for taking the hint and visiting my online journal. Let me (re)introduce myself, since not everyone knows me as "Smoog". Some know me as "The Broad". Others as "Rachel". Others as "George" (don't ask). It doesn't really matter. Smoog is as good as any of those. I've founded LITD, I've moderated PFFA, I've both taught you and learned from you in various different private workshops on various different topics, from poetry to carpentry to the DSM IV criteria for mental illness to the art of masturbation. I've been a smartass, a bitch, a confidante, a dash of cold water in your face. If who I am isn't clear enough yet, if you still don't recognise me, then you can relax -- you're not one to whom this letter is addressed.
Or you're an idiot.
I've been told by my other net acquaintances that writing letters to former net acquaintances who've vanished surprisingly and mysteriously is a waste of time -- "after all, what if they died?" -- but I know better. I see you sneaking in the back door, hanging around wearing another name, another identity. I even see you marching through the front hallway, original name boldly emblazoned on your lapel, oh-so-courageous and forthright, to send a message to someone or someones you have constantly professed in the past you don't give a shit about yet around whom you can't seem to keep quiet. Except around me, of course, which is the purpose of this open letter. I know that you'll read this, eventually, whereas I don't know if you did read my final emails or ICQs. You could have deleted them; you could have blocked me. Some of you abandoned your former email addresses along with your net acquaintances of that time and moved on. But I know human nature well enough to know how curiosity works. I'll make a point of casually contacting those who can contact you in turn and guide the way. It's just my nature.
I have all kinds of internet enemies. I honestly don't care. If someone begins to annoy me, I say so. If they drop me from their "buddy list", I won't be heartbroken. Generally, I don't even notice. That's because, other than 4 names on ICQ, names of those I would never refer to coyly as "buddies" even if a well-trained, sadistic Columbian law enforcement official shoved hot spikes under my toenails demanding that I did, I don't have a "buddy list" of my own.
I enjoy corresponding with people from around the world, people with different backgrounds, different interests, different wants and desires. All I look for in a net acquaintance is a reasonable amount of intelligence and a sense of humour. Honesty is another desired trait, as is strength of character, but those are features one can't easily seek out on the internet, which again is the purpose of this open letter.
Once we connected over the internet, we thrived in that connection -- at least for however little or long a while as you allowed. We may well have literally peed ourselves reading one of the letters we received. I've joked with you, whispered with you, played with you, shared secrets with you. It was fun. We were tickled. Na na, hey hey, toot yer horn and throw confetti.
But you're not my friend. How can you be my friend? I have never met you. I have never seen you walk, never seen you lean your weight against the kitchen counter as you chat about foreign policy with a bottle of beer in hand, never seen you shift from foot to foot when you're uncomfortable talking about your mother. I've never watched your pupils dilate and contract in surprise and fear, never watched you sneer or raise an eyebrow. I've never met your friends or your family and let them teach me who you are by who you know and who knows you. I've never heard your voice, heard the tension in it when you tell me everything's supposedly "fine", heard the ache in it as you say you don't want to talk about it when you really do, heard you choke on your milk when you laugh and didn't expect to. I don't know you. I can't know you, until I have met you.
This may come as a shock to you, considering how open I'm willing to be in writing. It may either be devastating or phenomenal for you to discover I didn't have "the hots" for you, or that I didn't fall in love with you -- or fall in hate with you. It doesn't mean I didn't connect, or didn't recognise that connection was possible in writing. I liked corresponding with you, and I enjoyed getting to know you as much as was possible in writing. The written word doesn't conceal that much about human character, just enough to build that final barrier that needs to be jumped before true friendship can form.
The barrier is this: relationships we build in our heads from having formed a close written connection are figments of our own imagination, and not founded on our personal reality. Our minds often don't care to note the difference; as far as they're concerned, figments and reality can be equally compelling, the former containing all the taste with half the commitment. The difference shows in that first real meeting, that first time you recognise someone walking down the street even though they're at least 200 metres away, when you open the door, look into someone's face, and know exactly what's wrong, when you touch a hand and know this person cares how you feel. If you don't think there's a difference, you really need to get out more. I'd also suggest you throw out your internet connection through the nearest window.
Yet here I am, obsessing over you through the internet, you who I haven't written to in months, or a year, or even numerous years. I do that; I obsess over the internet. Why do I obsess? Because I know so little about my own life, have so little memory of my own past, and have so much mystery veiling my own identity, that I despise arbitrary reticence in others. Reticence with reason, fine. But silence -- it eats at me. You may call it "a certain air of mystery"; I call it cowardice. Where the fuck do you get off, you passive aggressive piece of shit? Did you think I wasn't real enough to deserve even a shred of human decency, to be informed why you suddenly dropped off the face of the planet and wouldn't return my messages? Did you somehow think I was smothering you with a letter? Was your computer screen wrapping around your head when you saw an email from me? I don't care that you don't want to correspond -- get in line -- but damn it all, don't I at least deserve to know why?
No, I don't. I recognise that. No one really deserves anything from anyone. We're our own people with our own motivations, and no one can control the actions and choices of any other. So no, I don't deserve to know why. But I want it. I want to know why. Why did you stop writing? Why did you disappear? What the fuck is your problem?
Thank you for any and all future cooperation and elucidation for your sudden departure. The appropriate email link may be found in the upper lefthand corner site menu. Sentences of only 3 monosyllabic words are perfectly acceptable. No reply from me in response to your elucidation will occur unless specifically requested by you, in order for those of you terrified of confrontation to feel safe in revealing what's behind Neurological Door #3. For those of you who do request a reply, I reserve the right to take action including but not limited to textually ripping your fucking head off. It will only hurt for a second, and then we can do lunch or something.
Oh, and have a great day.
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