Recently, I came to a bitter conclusion that a longtime online friend wasn’t exactly the type of friend I thought I knew. While I don’t hate them, I don’t think I can spend any more energy interacting with them. This person in question, “Ashley” was someone I knew for over 15 years way before social media exploded. I distinctly remember a conversation in which they argued people online can in fact be friends. Funny.
Maybe I’m butthurt. Maybe I expected too much. But when you know each other for 15 years you’d think your relationship would have progressed. You both would have grown. But as they famously said, “you don’t know me.” And a relationship bent on just talking about similar interests and reminiscing of previous discussions isn’t a relationship beyond being an acquaintance. We weren’t really friends.
Ashley was a proud intellectual. And the way a conversation goes with them is usually an exercise in focusing mainly on the topic and not the individual behind them. You don’t matter. It’s only what comes out of your keyboard. Any emotional discord caused is completely irrelevant to Ashley. You can say he’s an asshole because they don’t give two shits about how you feel but I’d rather say he’s just challenged in that department.
That’s their greatest flaw. While they are excellent at picking apart ideas and subject matter they don’t get the point of them. When you’re discussing things of sentimentality or things just for fun they don’t get that. And how would they when it’s all just text right? It’s too much to ask for people to understand beyond the concrete words they see.
It’s like when a person shares a story online because it means something to them then people tear it down or make fun of it. They’re perfectly entitled to but they’d still be assholes doing it. I made the mistake thinking my “friends” online would respect me enough to figure out that I don’t need my expressions picked apart like a scientific theory.
I am not a logical person. And Ashley and many of the “thinking” types just don’t get that. They live in a world of cold hard logic whether they realize it or not because they get offended being referred like this. Just call them a "robot" and see how they react.
I can partially relate because I wasn’t too different in the past. I would say whatever I wanted to without considering people. “Keeping it real!” Then I did some growing up and realized: just because I have an honest opinion about something doesn’t mean I have to share it. I also became more aware of people’s emotion. Not everyone wants to have a pissing contest.
In light of these realizations, I can’t be too hard on Ashley. I don’t blame them at all. But I also can’t deal anymore. I can’t deal with someone who is quick to criticize but slow to praise. Someone who finds problems but not solutions. Someone who never apologizes for pissing someone off whether it’s their fault or not. Someone who isn’t intent on hearing you out. Someone who just does not get it.
Whenever we fight it’s because it’s “my fault” for losing it on them so it’s me who is apologizing. It’s me who has to show appreciation. It’s me who has to grow up or add some depth of humanity to our “relationship”. And I’m tired of it. And that’s why I can’t do it anymore. 15 years and I cannot have the same emotionless conversations. Time is fleeting. I want to build my relationships with people. And if we’re not growing, we’re dying.
This realization has slapped me in the face thinking that I could be the Ashley in many of my relationships. I may not realize but people who love me may be getting burnt out trying to connect or please me and I’m not reciprocating. Maybe some of us are so stuck in our heads we can’t see the people in front of us. But I’ll have to make a better effort now. I have to grow and be more personable to people. I don’t want to be the Ashley in my relationships.