Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On being invisible

Society has been progressively moving away from the tangible and towards the intangible, with everything being electronic. Paper copies are exchanged for electronic copies. Books are replaced by e-readers. Faceook conversations and internet stalking replace real relationships. In the midst of this technological revolution, I sometimes feel as though I am being coming less tangible and more invisible. I have less in-person conversations, less local friends, etc. This is most apparent at church. I have felt repeatedly that there have been conversations about me but not to me or with me. I have already cited one example-- a typical gossip chain that spanned the continental United States. However, it happened again this past Sunday. The president of our woman's organization came up to me for a brief chat.

President: I heard from someone that you were really busy? What are you up to? How are you doing?

First and foremost, let it be said that I really like this woman. She is a great, smart, down-to-earth, woman. What I have to say doesn’t really change my opinion of her but…..

Can I just tell you how tired I am of hearing the phrase, “I heard from someone.” Who is your informant? If I had conversations with anyone at church, this might be explained. But I am not having conversations with people. The few “conversations” I am lucky enough to engage in seem to fall under the category of listening fests—where I listen to their woes and worries rather than being able to share my own. Plus, I am locked away in a tiny room for 2/3 of church while I body check 4-year olds. Trust me; I am not having meaningful conversations with any adults during this time. Which begs the question, “where are you getting this crap?"

Is it so hard to just ask me how I am doing? To give me a phone call? Heck, even an email will suffice (even though it would be nice to have an actual face-to-face or a voice-to-voice conversation now and again to make me feel more substantial). I just hate being told through some chain how I am supposedly doing. It is like the child’s game of telephone: the message invariable gets garbled. Because, no, I am not particularly busy right now. My thesis has been successfully completed and can be submitted to the school. I am currently only working part time. And while I have traveled to two conferences this month, I am home most nights and have been at church most Sundays. It’s not like I am UNAVAILBLE.

As you can see, I am a bit disheartened right now. I really would like to connect with some of the ladies in my ward, especially as it looks like we are going to be here for a while. However, it is also apparent that there is no need for anyone to make an effort to get to know me and see how I am doing since they seem to have their own independent source of information about me. Never mind that it is UNACCURATE and MISLEADING.

So, I have come to the conclusion that I am currently invisible, at least to a large sector of the local population. How else do you explain the supposed interest but lack of direct contact? Is there a cure to this invisibility? Can I make myself more tangible and substantial? I feel like there is a catch 22. One part of me thinks that if I want to feel connected and to build ties, I have to make the effort. I have to be the one who starts conversations and initiates plans. However, the other part of me, the spiteful part, thinks, “why should I even bother? Obviously, they don’t care. They don’t even care enough to find out first hand what is going on in my life.”

So obviously, I know what I should do, but what would you be inclined to do in the given situation?


Misty said...

I know the feeling. Not too long ago I had several people come up to me at church and ask when we were moving. Uh...we're not. They had heard that Dave had an interview elsewhere and suddenly we were moving.

However...my closest friendship since moving here came from stepping really, really far out of my comfort zone. A girl bore her testimony at church and I thought, huh, I think we could be friends. So I called her and said "you don't really know me but would you like to go out to lunch?" Fortunately, she didn't think I was too crazy and stalkery and now we're great friends, as are our kids.

So, I vote, make the first step. GL. It's not so easy and it doesn't always pay off.

Katie said...

Maybe your Visiting Teachers said something? At least she was showing an interest in you....

In my experience, people at our church want to get together and meet new friends, but they kind of lack the social graces. All growing up the church has provided the social environment for them. They didn't have to do anything to come into contact with people, so they don't really know how to do it.

If you want people to be real friends outside of Sunday you're going to have to make the first move (which I'm sure you already know)

Have a couple over for Sunday dinner...that works well for me.


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