In the previous post I mentioned that I had stripped my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts of friends and contacts, that I had closed other social networking accounts in my name, and that I had given up on dating sites. I had postulated in that post that I was protecting myself from others having unrestrained access to me. I also speculated that I may be overreacting to being hurt from social networking sources. While I think that both of these assessments are true, I don’t think that is all that is going on with me.
Over the past few weeks I have also begun to delete friends and other contacts from my Skype contact list. There was a time when I had nearly a hundred contacts in Skype. I have in the past thinned the list when there were changes of jobs and other factors, eliminating former colleagues for whom I have little need for immediate communication. But in recent weeks I have deleted friends, actual friends with whom I regularly communicate. I am down to eleven contacts in Skype now: eight colleagues, two friends, and my daughter. I expect to eliminate a few of those colleagues soon and at least one of those friends from the list.
With regards to Skype, I think I’m trying mostly to get away from relying so much on relationships by text. At first I did delete some people who were irritating or for whom I never communicate by chat—they were the easy ones to eliminate. Then I deleted people that I felt that I was pestering when I chat with them: chatting is not for everyone. I deleted people who didn’t want to chat with me, at least not as much as I did, although I kept chatting with them—people which I was bothering. This didn’t reduce the amount of time and energy I was exerting on chatting, though. I simply shifted my chat pestering to the few people remaining in my Skype contact list, people I didn’t chat with much before. At first they seemed to enjoy the attention, but then they reacted annoyed. I was becoming a pest to them. So I deleted them as well so I wouldn’t be tempted to bother them.
People that I have been deleting see this as an affront to them. I wish they wouldn’t. It’s me retracting a bit, and me mostly trying to reign in myself. My hope is partly that if I starve myself enough for human company that I will become active again in an in-person way, and not satisfy my needs through chat. Put another way: Despite my protestations to the contrary, I’m lonely and I need to find healthier ways to resolve that feeling than bugging people in Skype or looking for a date on match.com. Although I want to meet people in person, I don’t want to rely on general social groups and parties as I did last year, which included many people out of my age range and with whom I share few interests. So how I will resolve my relationship problems, I’m not yet sure. However, this post is about me eliminating people from my Skype contact list.
I’m not eliminating people from my life, necessarily. Instead, I’m eliminating many communication channels. All of the people I have removed from my Skype contacts, as well as the social networking sites, still have the ability to email me, send me a text message or call me on the telephone, and some to visit me in person. That’s more methods than I had for most of my life, given that email and mobile phones have only in the past decade become prevalent. And yet people are saying that I have become anti-social. This is ironic since they’re not using these other, longer-standing methods of communications to interact with me. Is it that they prefer to communication in broader and less personal ways (e.g., posting messages on a public bulletin board like Facebook), whereas I prefer more personal communication? If so, maybe there’s little wrong with me, but plenty wrong with the masses. When friends do call me on the phone, I don’t avoid them; I talk to them. When friends want to come visit me in person or invite me to their homes or to some activity with them, I generally agree. I don’t tend lately to attend vague group gatherings (e.g., aperitivi). Those that are not willing to interact with me within my parameters (e.g., if you want to talk to me, write or call specifically me), those who have little in common with me, they will no longer be part of my life. It is my hope and expectation that in time I will accumulate appropriate friends to my style of interacting and my background and interests. In the mean time, it’s a lonely path, this path now less traveled, that I must walk to the next village of likeminded people.