No Need To Be So Formal, I've Seen You Naked
(Authors note: I was going to post the following, ducked it, then was inspired by this Braids post.)
So last week I got a message on FB that a friend had died. A friend I had met while working, but a friend still. Obviously we hadn’t stayed in that great of contact, but a every-once-in-awhile kind of thing.
I met him here in LA, then he moved to OK with his wife a few years ago, so we stayed in contact in part because I had moved from OK to LA, so we had that unique “trading places” thing. And also he was like a British John Hodgeman.
So when I got the message from his sister that he had died, I sent a text to a few of my friends, friends who had known and worked with him. Asking if they had heard anything similar. There’s not that many people from that job that I still talk to, and very few I call friends. (LindseySaladbar is one of them.)
Of these few, one happens to be an/the ex-girlfriend, whom I dated while working there, and the events around all of that are terrible and not worth mentioning, ever. Needless to say, I was under the impression we left all of that behind, moved on like adults, and remained friends. We still talk once or twice a year, text the occasional “Did you know this about this?” or “Did you hear this about that?” or “Hey, what’s that thing called when that happens?”. And the even less frequent actual phone conversations that are somehow more substantial than most conversations I have now with anyone else.
There’s a certain familiarity you have with someone who destroyed your ability to ever love again that you just can’t recapture with anyone else.
(I’m being bitter here for emphasis and humor; I genuinely thought we were friends.)
So this text conversation happened last Friday morning:
And I thought, “Well, why the fuck even respond then?” Jesus. Don’t make me feel guilty about a text.
(This is not a creeper obsessed FB post, bear with me.)
I mean, okay, you’re never on FB, sure. I legitimately wouldn’t know. She’s one of the 500+ people I chose not to follow on FB. (I have a list of about 60 people I follow on FB. My close friends and people in LA I stalk. Of those 60, 45 of them never do anything. Of those fifteen, Braids and Madlibster post all the god-damned time. So my FB feed is always full. Of usually the same posts because they repost the same Echo Park news. Hi guys.)
But you know what? I didn’t know you were in Mexico. So don’t act like I’m inconveniencing you. It’s not like it’s Labor Day Weekend or Spring Break. It’s a Friday at 9:45 am. And oh yeah, it’s about the death of someone we knew.
But I shrugged and forgot about it. I have other fishes in that great sea of fishes to fry.
(Shrugged and forgot, also, the “Who is this?” even though we had texts convos from not that long ago. Delete my number. I really don’t care. People get new phones. Whatever.)
But then this past Sunday night I am checking my FB events for the week, and see a “reminder” that it’s her birthday this week.
So I click on over to her page.
And two things are apparent.
- “I rarely go on there.” is a blatant lie. The thing about FB is you know when people use it, especially if you don’t hide any of your wall notifications. So it shows you when people post things on their own wall, comment on their own wall, post things to other peoples wall, etc. And sister, you were all over FB. Including pics and comments from Mexico. So don’t say “I rarely go on there.” Make up any number of excuses, but don’t use one that is so easily proven false.
- She was posting like a fiend for good reason. She just got engaged.
Which is great, and I am genuinely happy. This is not a bitter “ex got engaged” post.
This is a “Don’t be a dick to me about a text I sent in regards to a friend of ours who died” post.
Because, you know what? It’s really not that hard for people to be:
- Adults about things
- Not be assholes about things
- Be civil to one another.
And more and more, this is just not clear to some people. A lot of people. Including people I think of and call friend. Not just her, but actual friends. People I talk to all the time.
Sure, there’s a lot going on in all of our lives. We’re working, we’re getting married, we’re having babies, we’re raising kids, we’re losing jobs, we’re touring, we’re on vacation, we’re burying our parents, we’re complaining on facebook about helicopters in Echo Park.
But through it all, you don’t have to forget to be human about things. To be a nice person. To communicate.
To just respond to a text, or an email, or a call. Not just respond nicely; actually fucking respond. If I take the time to write you something, the least you can do, when you’re at a bar playing Words With Friends rather than talk to your actual friends beside you, is reply to whatever I said. Even if it’s blithe and just a stupid emoticon. A reply is a reply. I’ll take it.
This holds true whether you’re a friend new or old; guy or girl; girl I’m friends with or girl I’m trying to date. Communication only works when you communicate.
(Though I am guilty about this. I’m trying to be be better.)
And if you don’t respond to me, for any number of reasons, over any length of time, don’t get pissed off if months later you send me something, like a FWD or joke picture, and I fail to respond promptly. No need to be that hypocritical.
Especially if you live in another time zone and text me at 5am PST. You know for a fact that I am not awake. No need to send anything else like “Why aren’t you responding?” It’s because the sun and I are both sleeping off a hangover or just sleeping. Get over it. I will get back to you once the sun comes up.
And yet, lately, it seems like even this base level of decency, respect, and communication is too much for some people. In an age where I can send an email, text, twitter @ reply, FB message, FB wall comment, iTunes ping comment, G-chat, or AIM message all pretty much simultaneous, from my phone, wherever I am, there’s no excuse for waiting 18 days to reply to anyone about anything.
Especially not when I can use all of those things to know exactly what you’re doing at all times. Especially not when I hang out with you so I know you are never without your phone.
So people: Don’t lie about your activities when they’re clearly visible to everyone. Don’t be a dick to each other about things that are trivial or things that aren’t. Just don’t be a dick.
Most importantly: Don’t treat actual friendships like online friendships.
Life’s too short, and our time too important, for you to go around being a total asshole about anything and everything.
Now, excuse me, I have some WWF to attend to.