March is always quite a month for me. It’s the end of the half of the year I usually consider the “most lonely” or at least where I usually get the most depressed. It’s also the month where winter starts to transition into spring, at least in New York. It is also the month of my birth. I like keeping a lot of identifying details vague, so I won’t confirm whether I’m an Aries or a Pisces. I don’t put much stock in horoscopes, regardless. It’s a time of year I usually get extra reflective, which rarely results in anything good. I grow a year older, and often upon looking back at the preceding year, I don’t have much to show for it. New Year’s Eve is a time for this too, but there’s something about birthdays which make it worse. If I am honest, I haven’t usually enjoyed my birthdays since I was about nineteen. It just feels like scratching another line on the wall of life.
My friends have long tried to make my birthdays something positive for me, despite my best efforts. I usually had to be nagged into coming out to the local bar for many of them. For some others, they took me out for dinner; usually a steak house or some other meat serving establishment. In later years as their social circle increased, they tended to create larger parties and outings for those whose birthdays fall near mine. Off the top of my head at least 2-3 other associates of mine (and their chums) celebrate their birthdays within less than a week of mine. Last year was actually the first year there was no attempt to invite me out or hassle me into some gathering for it. It was the quietest and most isolated birthday I had. I’m still not sure if I preferred it or not.
This time I’d like to talk about the darker side of the world wide web in general, and Facebook in particular. It’s one of the key bits of media which is considered “social”, next to Tumblr, Twitter, message boards, and naturally blogs such as this. I joined it in March 2012 after being all but blackmailed by my friends to do so. At the time I hadn’t had a cell phone in years, and I was rarely at the home phone. Frustrated at the difficulty in contacting me outside of AIM, two of them vowed to create one for me themselves featuring a lot of “candid” pictures they had of me (mostly just goofy pics from various parties) unless I made one myself. I told them I’d get it done within a week, and I was as good as my word. In fact, I got it done on the literal last day. Now it is a part of my routine, and it has made it easier to remain in contact with friends, associates, and co-workers.
I’m not one who belittles the Internet or those on it all the time, even if I was finishing high school by the time the “modern” version seemed to evolve. I’ve made good friends online, and have gotten at least one of my rare dates online too. It’s allowed me to express myself through this blog, after all. But it has a darker side, and I am not talking about porn, PUA’s, “Gamergate”, or predators now (even if that’s all bad enough). I am talking about having access to more of those from your social circle in a format where people may be more candid than they are one on one, or even at times in person. There are too examples of what I mean.
The first will be recent – as in within the past two weeks. One of the couples who was at the “Everyone is Doing Better Than You” party from late last year broke up. Unfortunately, Facebook and social media have allowed break ups to become more vile and spread across one’s entire list of friends. This break up was particularly ugly, especially since this couple were the friends of at least two of my good pals (including the one who got engaged last year). The woman starting talking about her new ex as “the devil”, making claims of infidelity and being lied to, and so on. It progressed to her wanting photos in others’ albums taken down, and an online argument/shouting match between her and my pal’s fiance. This couple was so key to my cast of friends and associates that it will almost be impossible to avoid taking a side or commenting on it somehow in the next gathering or two. It’s something I don’t look forward to, honestly. However, it did put a bright side on my dateless state; I was reminded of how ugly break ups could be and that I was glad I never had to go through this. In fact, part of the reason why I am hesitant to once again try to bang my head against the wall of destiny is that I am older, and with the online world what it is, a break up would be more than just some drama on a campus or classroom. It can effect money and friendships, and be broadcast for dozens to read. The time for that has passed for me, and I was grateful to not have to be at the center of something so nasty.
The second is a bit more distant – as in around this time in 2013. It was near the first year anniversary of being on Facebook and I was still adjusting to it in my routine as well as having easier contact with friends and what they were doing or saying. It was also nearing my birthday and as usual I was bracing for the inevitable attempt to yank me out for an outing. I suppose while I don’t always enjoy it as much as I should, I enjoy the consideration. That year, one of my friends had started a “discussion” on his status asking if anyone knew any (to paraphrase), “desperate, alcoholic sluts” who “weren’t picky” for a “friend of his” to have sex with because he needed it badly. It did not take long for me to realize that he meant me, and I wasn’t alone. Virtually everyone I was friends with, including Marsha from the “Millennium House Party” responded. To their credit, none of them “tagged” me to publicly identify and embarrass me. But everyone seemed to figure out quickly who my pal’s “desperate” and chaste friend was, and they all were doing the text version of winking and nodding. I sometimes have a self depreciating sense of humor and more than once at a bar I’d quip how, “there isn’t enough alcohol here [or in the universe] to get ____ to go out with me” or something similar when such conversations came up. Of course, I’d never take advantage of any woman who I even suspected of being buzzed, but that’s another point. To me, there was a difference at being in on a joke on my expense, from my own lips, and peeking in on a joke at my expense, made by one of my friends. I have no doubt in my mind that my pal was trying to do something helpful, but in the end I was getting a candid look at what all of my friends truly thought about me. And they were all having a good online chuckle at this dateless, virginal pal of theirs who’d likely never have sex. “If it hasn’t happened by now, it probably never will,” one of them typed.
I insisted my feelings weren’t hurt, but I do think it left a mark. That year I deliberately avoided their attempt at a gathering. Partly because I didn’t want to mention it and partly because it wasn’t even for me; it was for someone else and I was supposed to piggy back it. I was in no mood to piggy back another person’s party after that that year, and instead had dinner with one of my other friends (Sonia, also mentioned before) and her then boyfriend/fiance. Word cycled through the grapevine that I’d read that topic and likely was insulted or effected, and it was deleted. I’ve never been able to find it again. But I know what I read. But, in a way, I am glad I did. I am glad to get some idea of what my friends think of me and my dateless status when I am not around to humor. Honesty is a good thing. The added salt in the wound was that my friends weren’t even trying to set me up with someone they thought fit, just someone “desperate”, “slutty”, or “drunk”, or some combination. I wouldn’t be opposed to being set up with someone by a friend per say, but those adjectives didn’t exactly enamor me to the idea. My friends have been too mercenary to ever try, and after that I’d never agree to their attempt since I know what kind of woman they believe I deserve. Considering my age and my dateless nature, perhaps it’s also the truth as well. Like I said, honesty is a good thing. At least now I know for a fact what my friends genuinely think of me, and things won’t ever be the same.
I’ve since moved on, attended gatherings with my friends since and never mentioned it. They’re the best bunch of friends a grump like me could ever have, and all are good, decent people. However, the internet allows everyone to be more candid and open, and sometimes that’s not always the easiest thing to behold.
This month I will be even further past age 30, even if I don’t want to be. If I had the option to stop aging at a particular p0int physically I may have chosen age 25-26. But, it’s inevitable. Another year, another notch on the wall, another year older as the Dateless-Man.