Sunday, October 2, 2011

Disposable people

"Someone out in nowhere land is listening tonight."
-Jeff Sack

I used to love paper dolls as a kid. They were less maintenance than regular dolls because you never had to brush their hair or clean their clothing. They were cheap enough that if they got ruined, buying new ones was only an allowance day away. They were compact enough to fit into any bag that was coming along for a car ride in large numbers- forget being limited by shape and size restrictions... I've got an entire party along with me. And they weren't the kind of dolls that you had to worry would feel neglected or unloved if you didn't have enough time to play with them again and again. They were paper- recyclables. They were disposable.

If you went to a public high school or got your degree from a college that requires you to meet in a classroom, you've probably experienced another phenomena that I like to call "disposable people." This is what happens when people find out that their might be a utility in making friends. The idea that every person is actually a being with feelings and a life story becomes secondary to the idea that every person has some kind of worth. And unfortunately, we grab on pretty quickly to those who most compliment the life style that we live- everyone has an ultimate goal in friendships. When those goals either come to pass or come to fail, we let the friendship go. We throw it away- we only wanted the benefits in the first place.

With Facebook and other social networking sites being a meeting ground, there is a huge craze going around- collect the most friends. This is where we decide to friend people we don't know, and have no intention of meeting, and really have no interest in talking to, because it makes us look like one of the popular kids. There is an unspoken popularity contest that goes on- somehow, the number of people who want to be involved in our virtual representations of life weaves itself into our self esteem. I don't care if I know all 2000 people- they all want to be my friend.

Across the united states, there are movements about bullying. Kids, and adults, for that matter, are being pushed around by those who are bigger, stronger, smarter, or more well-liked then they are. Recently, a study revealed that these antics were usually not about a specific dislike for the person on the receiving end, but instead, a growing necessity that the bullies feel to be liked. As though if they do not pick on the ones who are easy targets, they are less in themselves. It's a serious realization that the bully is a victim too- not of unusual cruelty of others, but of a self-dislike that is so strong, they need to have someone else seem weaker than them.

We all want to be liked, in one form or another, by someone somewhere. We all want to feel important- worth something. We want to know that we are needed in some capacity, and that if we fall down, that others will be there for us to pick us back up again.

But people don't save us from loneliness. We ourselves have to go through that alone. And if people are disposable, just paper dolls to us, then I don't want to play. Keep the party to yourself- I'll stay home and update my Facebook, where the people who actually do care about me can comment and react. I don't want to be the kind of person who makes friends because they are worth a utility to me. I want to make friends with people because I like them, because I connect with them, and because I want to share things with them. I don't want to feel my self worth through how others see me.

Maybe it's the rant of someone who never had 2000 friends. Or maybe it's just a general feeling from someone whose tired of seeing people thrown away. I'm tired of watching suicides of people on the news, tired of watching broken hearted people walk with their heads down, and tired of watching people that I actually care about fall apart over people who didn't matter in the first place. I find it to be a lesson that we all need to discover in ourselves, and not a problem that someone else needs to deal with, so here is my conclusion:

If we think of people as disposable, we will always be lonely.

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