Separation Anxiety


I was on Facebook Friday afternoon, taking a break from work. I was scrolling mindlessly, playing a couple of games I like to play to calm my mind and soul. One of them was to see if I could scroll to a spot in between two videos that start themselves automatically. This is a tough and frustrating game. The second game was called Who do I know in this Picture?

There were zillions of pictures today, as it’s the day after Thanksgiving. So there were lots of friends wearing sensible button downs in pictures with family, drink, and feasts. It was all very cozy and warming. Like an overwhelming supply of virtual comfort food. Still, this game isn’t easy either. First, I’m just bad at identifying people in pictures. Additionally, Facebook for me is probably not unlike Facebook for many of you. I have several hundred friends from several different periods of my life: elementary school, high school, college, first few jobs, vacations, current job, neighbors. There is a huge mix. Some of these friends I only physically knew for a month or two, sometimes even less.

One of my friends, a guy I knew twenty-some years ago and haven’t seen in twenty-some years, was angry. Always appreciating a good rant, I read his post. It was about how parents should not let their kids listen to “disgusting” and “disgraceful” gansta rap. He made some other pretty extreme comments about the unethical nature of this genre of music.

I shut off my tablet and went back to work in my office. But sitting in my backroom I was unable to get a splinter out of my mind. I couldn’t figure out what it was so it drove me mad, but I finally got at it. It was this: I knew that guy when he was younger and he was a prick. He was a prick to other kids, he was a disrespectful prick to adults, he was a prick to people on the street. He was a malicious bully with a turbulent temper. Given the option to hang out with him for an afternoon or with gangsta rap, I’d choose gangsta rap.

This bothered me. It didn’t bother me because he was being a hypocrite, it bothered me because I couldn’t separate the obnoxious bully from what he was now. I guess Facebook allows us to do a novel thing. We are allowed a look into the worlds of people we knew at different stages in our lives. That’s why it’s such a rush to look up your old high school crush or find out if your old bully got the comeuppance he deserved.

Most of the people I’ve known for a long time have softened with age, changed, morphed, matured. I certainly feel that I have, but no doubt someone’s out there saying: oh this guy, he was a mouthy little bastard then and he’s a mouthy little bastard now. True. But you have to be impressed with my consistency.

I think that most of my Facebook friends I’d be happy to see in public, if some more than others. But I went back to Facebook and scrolled through his pictures and posts. Kids. Family. House. The works. Seems better-natured in most of his pictures.

Hell, maybe he just doesn’t like gangsta rap and I was looking for a reason to procrastinate.

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