Online Friends

Haven’t been doing much besides socializing online and sleeping this week.  Been having odd sleep patterns too.  I’ll usually go to bed shortly after midnight and sleep for a few hours.  Then I’ll wake in the middle of the night and usually spend some time reading online articles or chatting with facebook friends in different time zones as when it’s middle of the night in America it’s usually middle of the day in places like Japan and China or mid morning in England.

Been quite active socially, at least online anyway.  Participating mostly in science, tech, and futurism groups on facebook and leaving a few comments on tech sites on youtube.  Often on youtube I’ll delete a post after several minutes because I wrote the post primarily to get it off my mind.  It’s my post, so why can’t I?  It’s not community property unless I allow it to be.  As far as dealing with rude people online, if someone is rude to me the first time they talk to me, I block them.  I don’t give second chances in this regard.  I’m mentally taxed as is.  Besides, the first rule of internet ettiequte is “Do Not Feed The Trolls.”  I have better uses of my time and I’m just not in the mood anymore.

Made some pretty decent acquaintances in my interests groups.  Too bad many of them live overseas and I’ll never get to meet them in person.  I probably would be on friendly terms with many of these people if we lived in the same town or worked for the same company.  Been making friends with friends of friends some too.  We find common ground in similar interests and mutual friends.  Once again, these friends are spread all over.  But, if it’s not possible to build physical towns and settlements based around similar interests rather than single industries like farming, mining, manufacturing, finance, etc., I suppose the online friends and communities I’m part of will have to suffice.

The internet is a good thing.  Social media is a good thing, certainly for people like me who have difficulty socializing in person and who live in isolated areas.  Sure many people abuse these wonders of modern tech, but every tool and invention humans have ever come up with has been abused many times already.  But that doesn’t make those tools evil.  I am one of the few science enthusiasts I personally know where I live now and where I grew up.  I didn’t have many friends growing up because I didn’t have the same interests and priorities that most of the people in my town and school.  It was quite lonely at times.  Occasionally I’d meet like minded people at speech meets and summer camps.  I wrote to a few of these people and they wrote back during my high school years (before social media mind you).  College was more bearable as there were many people with similar interests.  Even at a small Christian college there were people with almost every interest imaginable.  I never got that back once I graduated and moved on, at least not in the physical world.

Once I figured out how to sort through the clutter and effectively deal with online rudeness, social media became fun again.  It was a dark ages cesspool for me from the years 2015 to 2017.  But this year, after figuring out how to tailor the online experience to my likes and strengths and personality, it has become an important means of socializing for me.  I guess one of the ironic things about my online interactions is that I have found that I have far more in common with strangers in places like Japan, England, Philippines, Canada, etc. than I do even people I have known my entire life.  Interests and personalities are not evenly distributed among populations.  Makes me wonder, in past generations, how many potential geniuses and difference makers our civilization lost because they had no way to channel their creativity or anyone to encourage them along.  I imagine millions of people over the centuries live sad, quiet lives of desperation and despondency because they had no one to share their interests with.  As lonely as I sometimes feel being a science enthusiast living in farming country in the 21st century, I can’t imagine how bad I would have gotten it living in medieval Europe, feudalist China, or the Stone Age.

Problems Socializing

Been a few days since I last wrote.  But that is mainly because I really haven’t had any real ups or downs.  I’ve been quite stable for several days.  Haven’t felt any real anxiety or depression for any true length of time.  I still spend most of my time alone without much for physical interaction.  But I still interact with friends and family via phone calls and Facebook.  I don’t mind being alone as much as I used to.  It’s a routine that doesn’t cause me stress and anxiety.  I just see no need to interact with my neighbors much as I really have no interest in talking about mundane things like weather and complex gossip.  I just have no use for that kind of information I can pick up on my own within seconds.  I don’t have to rehash the same mundane nonsense over and over again.  It bores me and irritates me.  I mean, seriously, please tell me something I don’t already know.  Or better yet, tell me something that is interesting.

Naturally many people I have met over the years have thought I was aloof, arrogant, and anti social.  This is mainly because I have interests outside of my home community, sports, and politics.  It was tough growing up in an era before the internet in an isolated village.  I was annoyed at how everyone in my village thought my business was their business.  This bothered me even in grade school.  I had always heard “If you’re not up to anything bad, it shouldn’t matter who knows”.  No.  Most people I knew and know today are really judgmental of anyone outside of the accepted norm.  I am outside of the norm on just about everything.  Playing football in high school was probably the only thing I did growing up that many people would have thought normal.  No I don’t like mindless chit chat.  No I don’t like chasing women.  No I don’t like most of what is on tv.  There’s a lot of things I like that most people don’t care at all about.  I like discussing the possibilities of future science and technology.  I like discussing history.  I like discussing philosophy.  I like discussing classical literature.  I like writing.  I like reading.  It seems that most people I know haven’t read a book since high school.  And if any of likes or dislikes makes me appear as an elitist intellectual snob, than so be it.  We need more people who try to think rather than just through life sub conscious.

None of these social problems are made easier by having schizophrenia.  But at least having mental illness and problems socializing has taught me who is and who isn’t trustworthy.  I may not have lots of social contacts, but I do have some amazing family and friends.  And in the end, isn’t that what life is all about?

Filling Voids in Day to Day Living

            After I found out the hard way that I was going to not be holding forty hour a week employment, I needed to find a way to fill my days.  I could have been content to just sit in front of the TV for hours on end day after day.  But that type of life isn’t good for anyone.  Let’s face it, it just isn’t.  I decided early on that I needed to find activities that would bring variety to my life.  This would make my time worthwhile and interesting, not just endlessly dragging onto nothingness.

            There are many programs for the mentally ill and physically handicapped who are unable to work.  There are social clubs that engage in different activities everyday.  These activities can give an individual reason to leave the home and give a routine.  These programs vary greatly from town to town and city to city, so be asking around to see what’s available.

            Good source of information on social clubs include mentally ill individuals themselves.  Other sources my include your psych doctor, psych nurse, therapist, family friends, or just anyone in the know.  You won’t find out unless you are willing to ask around.

            We the mentally ill have as much need for socializing, appreciation, and belonging as anyone who is considered normal.  Such outlets as church groups, NAMI, and Goodwill are important for those with mental illness issues that make working difficult or impossible.  People are not meant to be isolated for long periods of time as we are social creatures.  Every person has a need to belong to something and identifying with something bigger than just an individual.  Entire sciences such as sociology, psychology, political science, etc. are devoted to learning why people act and socialize the way we do.  Socializing with others is so important to our own humanity that it should never be neglected.

            In America, we are closely identified with our jobs and careers simply because we spend so much time engaged in our employment.  We are now more identified by our employment than by anything else we do in this country. 

            Yet this line of indentifying is a drawback for those of us who are not able to hold long-term employment or hold employment at all due to physical or mental disabilities.  It is even more of a drawback for the mentally whose problems are not are not as obvious as other illnesses.  The line of thinking for many in the mainstream is that if you are not physically disabled or not in a mental hospital, you ought to be able to work full time.  It doesn’t always work out that way.  Mentally ill individuals do not always have physical signs of problems.  Most would never guess who among us is mentally ill if we were seen just once in public.  Yet the mentally ill can have as many problems as the physically ill.

            I cannot stress enough the importance of finding activities to fill the voids in time in your day-to-day life. Life is meant to be exciting and we are meant to interact with other people.  Life is not meant to be spent hiding in your home and living in fear.  For some of us who don’t even like going out in public, a walk to the corner and back can be a start.  Or perhaps you can do your shopping at night or when the crowds are not as large like I do. 

            The important thing is to not take in too much all at once.  You need those small victories before you can go after the big goals and challenges.  Positive and lasting change is a slow process.  But the results are well worth the time and effort.

            I cannot stress enough the importance of having at least one hobby.  Hobbies have been shown to reduce stress and give joy to people.  We have different interests and talents.  There has never been anyone who couldn’t develop a talent for at least one thing that they have a passion for.  Only you can tell what your interests truly are.  If you are not entirely sure about your talents, take some quiet time every day to listen to that “little inner voice” of your heart.  That could be yourself telling you what you are truly interested in. 

            It also doesn’t hurt try out different activities to see what you are interested in.  If you are truly interested in something no one has to push you into such an activity.  Follow your heart and it will lead you to your true interests.

            Another bit of advice is don’t just sit in your home and stare at the TV waiting for life to happen.  Go out and do something with your life.  Interact with other people.  Get in touch with old friends and family members that you have lost touch with.  Even if these activities last for only a few minutes a day, do something with the life that you have.  Gradually build up if you have to.  You don’t have to be successful to start but you do have to start to be successful.