I have this not so secret obsession with hearing other people’s stories–I love it!
Since the pandemic had limited everyone’s in-person face time, I found that I took to reading discussion threads. It became a daily, sometimes twice daily, activity on newsletters and sites such as The George Takai report, Quora, and Factinate (which I found on Quora), occasionally other sites. I’ve cycled through periods of obsessively reading these threads, even when it’s not in my best interest.
I would become saddened/dismayed/angry/disturbed and then I’d hold off for a period only to return to these threads.
It was the humor that initially had me returning and the occasional story that made me think differently. That slowly shifted. Somehow, I found myself on a relentless “bad news” cycle.
My family teases me about it.
Especially if I try to share 🙄
If anyone has watched So I Married an Axe Murderer, think of the scene where the mother is talking about the new juice diet she’s found in the “news” in which Mike Meyers’ character tells her that The Weekly World News is not the “news.” 😆
She refers to it frequently and he rolls his eyes, frequently. That’s the way my family feel about my social media threads. Many a time I found myself agreeing with them, yet I continued reading.
One morning a couple of months ago (when I first started writing this post…😬), I asked myself why the obsession? It’s because something was missing in my life. Human Connection.
Don’t get me wrong, I get that with my family, as well as with friends and acquaintances via Zoom and phone calls. I suppose it’s more the spontaneity and randomness of human connection that I was missing.
Normally, I go places and people chat me up. Won’t lie–I chat them up, too. Interestingly, people do this even when I’m minding my own business. (Chief says I engage them–I say not always)
I stroll through life hearing and listening to people’s stories whether or not I want to. I usually do, but there are instances where I just want to run the errand and scurry on home.
My former students would share some of the darkest, wildest, and funniest things with me. Strangers would tell me their stories on busses, elevators, and in queues. I realize that sometimes this is a just a proximity thing, but it’s real.
People share their stories with me. I enjoy talking to people. Some of these stories make me feel honored that they would chose me to share with.
Story sharing was something I probably took for granted. That is, unless I had someone waiting impatiently for me while a stranger was telling me their story. I wanted to honor both parties and that just couldn’t be. I have some friends and family who don’t take kindly to this listening and chatting characteristic of mine. Or as I like to say, polite engagement. My curiosity and compassion is sometimes their personal bane, especially when I get animated, generally spelling trouble for them. The smarter of those waiting just walk off and leave me until I come find them.
At any rate, there was a long spell where I didn’t have a lot of deep human connection and sharing in that random way which might be why I found myself on all these threads–and I mean some sad threads. I read them as if it were a job. There were a few days where I thought I might have some strange sort of addiction. I’ve always known that human connection and people’s stories were important to me (and most people), but I managed to trade true human connection for this sort of unsatisfying junk food.
Junk food is okay in small quantities. I, however, was consuming these threads like fistfuls of M & M’s–not the best longterm plan, folks.
It became a cozy little habit and a dirty little secret.
Admittedly, I’ve come across a few that really struck me and a few that were hilarious. There are days, however, when I wondered if the sad and disturbing stories were worth mucking through to get to the gold.
I held out hope that I would find something inspiring, funny, and/or thought provoking. Not sad. Not disillusionment. Not disruptive and disturbing.
That’s when I decided I needed to get a grip, leave the house more often and find some other hobbies. Look at the pretty pictures on Instagram and actually read some articles and books. Here’s one–go outside.
My family had started to call me a “shut in” and I was feeling out of touch with all manner of things that weren’t “sad.”
I’m not saying we only need happy or uplifting things in our lives–we need to feel a variety of emotions. What I am saying is that I was trapped in the sad rut. That’s all I was reading and it had an adverse effect on me.
It was time.
Stop punishing yourself.
I pulled on my boots and rode off to…well, all the places. I had people to chat up and laughter to spread.