September 19, 2014

#NoSocialLife

How I feel about lacking any form of social life.

For the last few days, some people have heard me talking about having #NoSocialLife, and how I absolutely hate it. Yet I’ve never really explained why this is so, nor completely why I have not done something about it. Unsurprisingly, it makes me rather upset and feel bad. I have found that many times the best way to feel better, even short-term, is to talk it out, perhaps to people who understand, and that is what I intend to do here.

First, let me define what #NoSocialLife, as well as #SocialLife, is and means to me. #NoSocialLife is the absence of people I know in real life and who I can consider to be friends. This can be at home, school, where ever. People I know solely through the internet do not directly apply to this. There are people on here I consider to be good friends, if not the adverb “very” present to describe the adjective “good”. Here on this site, I have somewhat of a “#SocialLife”, in the regard I do talk to and interact with people. However, an online life does nothing to improve the situation either. In fact, it may at times do the exact opposite. Obviously, #SocialLife would be the opposite of #NoSocialLife.

To me, a #SocialLife allows me to actually talk face-to-face to people, for me to read their body language and facial expressions, to express a tone of (a no good sense of) humor, emotion, feelings, to truly interact, complete with some form of varying degrees of drama. This is a far cry from an online #SocialLife, where the majority of interaction is transmitted through text, lifeless, humorless, careless, emotionless digital bits of various colors and styles on different colored backgrounds. Drama consists solely of all caps and/or cursing/swearing/lots of stars, and much of the emotional feelings are lost (although it is at times possible to feel some emotion during this). This is what I really want, a real #SocialLife, one I can be a part of, one where I have actual friends, people I could (if I could) call, text, whatever, and who knows, if the time was right, find a girlfriend.

Why do I want a real #SocialLife? Why do I absolutely hate having #NoSocialLife, to the point I want to “smack it silly and throw it clean out of this world”? Why am I in this position anyway? There are many reasons; a select few of which I do not discuss to personal privacy, but the rest can be summed up in three words: history, location, and me.

I have said this before to multiple people on multiple occasions, I was home schooled. Mom taught me from 1st grade until I graduated. We had books, quizzes, tests, schedules, routines, actual school. We had field trips, such as going to the symphony orchestra, museum, or local events. I did well in this environment. I did better than well, I thrived. It was here I learned so much and experienced so much, that given a choice to go back and change time, I would take home school again. I got to play with my trains and LEGO bricks for hours on end almost every day, I got one-on-one help, a strong support system, and in this I truly learned. A few years ago, upon finishing a placement exam for a larger test I had to take, the instructor declared “I do not have to teach you. Your mom has taught you well; you already know it all.” The instructor went on to say the entrance exam I took was the highest level she had, and she usually uses it only three times a year. I ended up doing very well in the larger, multi-topic exam, with my scores being in the 90% grade range (in other words, an A). Home school taught me like no public school system could.

I live in rural Georgia. Atlanta is a good morning + lunch drive away. It is said there is nothing below Atlanta until you get to Florida or maybe Savannah, and only when the Masters is played in Augusta or maybe if the Okefenokee Swamp is on fire. For the most part, that is very accurate. There are cities, colleges, and industry, yes; some of them rather large-ish, but for the most part it is farm land. I joked the other night, if you take the wrong exit off the interstate, you end up taking the scenic route, and even if you do take the correct exit you still have a scenic route before you GPS declares “You have reached your destination.” The farm lands can be very pretty at times, and all the trees sometimes make you feel as if you eternally surrounded by a mass army of greet giants. Because of all this, many people, especially where I live, love the outdoors. They hunt, fish, go mud-bogging, or garden. There is also a strong emphasis on sports, especially football. Football is huge around here. Just Wednesday, one of my classmates said a high school in a nearby county is purely football. Of course with football comes the cheerleaders, bands, tryouts, rivalries, season games, and championships, not to mention the game schedules, who is playing who and if it is at home or away, the track record of each team, and comparisons to the team from the year or two before. I am just referring to the local and region level; it probably gets bigger on the state and national levels. There is also NASCAR for those who do not prefer football, and some enjoy both.

The main campus for college is 45 minutes away one way, a trip I make every Monday and Wednesday. There is another campus 20 minutes away, but it does not offer Web Design classes (it is primarily nursing, automotive, and welding). Although it is a small school, there are a lot of people, as well as excellent instructors (one of them was nominated as a finalist for best instructor in the Technical College System of Georgia, meaning he was voted the best instructor in the entire school). The (only) building my classes are in is called the medical technology building, so it houses lots of medical related classes. All the time, I see pretty girls as well as handsome guys (to a smaller percentage) around the building. Every one usually has their own groups and talk to the people in that, though occasionally I see someone sitting in the foyer by themselves having a snack or something (as I did Wednesday. She sat down and started eating a candy bar as I was going back to class from doing the same thing. As far as I know, nobody spoke to her, just as they did not speak to me, going from how she rather solemnly pulled the chair over from a table and sat there eating). People see me walking to and from class, I know they do, because I look around the foyer as I walk in, and I see them look at me walking, even for a brief second, but that is it.

I am a programmer, a technical thinker, an analyst, a tech user, one who enjoys working though technical issues with structure and a detailed plan, and I do all this with a devoted passion (this is why I feel as if I have a poor sense of humor, and can only ever make some form of a joke via “in the moment” and “you had to be there” situations, and not being able to tell one right off the top of my head on cue). I enjoy doing these things. I am also one who enjoys helping others and seeing them succeed. I have written tutorials, programs, even given on-the-spot mini-lessons, all to help people learn and succeed. In my first semester in one class, other students called me asking for help instead of the instructor teaching the class, something I enjoyed doing (helping, that is). I get asked questions in JavaScript class, just as I did in College Algebra last semester. I am also a background worker. I do not like the spotlight or to be the center of attention. I will claim credit where proper credit is due, but do not try to get me up in front of people and give a speech. This causes me to be a reserved and probably to some a shy person, though once you get to know me that is not all true. I am not the person to just start talking to someone or introduce myself to people sitting in the same area. I will wait for them to talk to me so I do not feel so awkward, even though that never happens. I am also a partial-writer, as indicated by this blog post and other writings, even being told I wrote a “really good speech”. Because of unspoken reasons, I do not drive or even have a license, meaning mom and dad take me to classes, and from lack of self-transportation I do not have a job.

All this combines into me having #NoSocialLife. Do you really think a technology-oriented guy likes to go hunting and fishing? Do you really think a technical thinker likes football or NASCAR? Do you really think a background person is part of a band and plays in front of people or stands up and gives speeches? For some, maybe so, but for me, the answer to all those questions is a complete no. Having not attended the high school makes me an “outsider”, an unknown, friendless in my town. Having to have someone take me to/from class means I do not stay on campus long after classes and do not get to meet that people I see in the building and create friendships and relationships. Further, pretty much everyone in a CIS (Computer Information Systems) program takes online classes, many solely online, not to mention there’s only about 15 people in the Web Design degree right now (CIS enrollment is way down). Thus I never meet the people with whom I share common interests. I am friendless, despite being amidst many people. I have #NoSocialLife. How else would I have so much time to program and do other stuff if the only big thing I had on my plate was school? Unless things change and I can get a license and job and can drive myself around, things do not look as they will change any time soon.

In closing, as I write this, I am listening to the LEGO Ninjago Rebooted song “After the Blackout” by The Fold on constant repeat. The song talks about a blackout in New Ninjago City due to the return of the Digital Overlord, and what happens after the blackout.

After the blackout there was darkness in the streets
The only light for miles and miles shined artificially
It looks like tech this time
No way to mask the lack of spine
Don’t mess with Ninjago cuz we’ll get you every time!Hey! Then the lights came on
Brighter than ever before
Can you see them shine?
Go ninja! Go go Ninja!
Won’t let them fade
This city’s meant for much more!
Gonna hear us shout
Go ninja! Go go Ninja!
After the blackout I could finally see
I knew the day would come when I would defend my home city
It looks like now’s the time
that we should standup for the fight
This blackouts over and I’m ready for the light!

Somehow, this song somewhat describes this #NoSocialLife mess I have. The blackout is where I am right now, a complete lack of a real #SocialLife.

The only light for miles and miles shined artificially / It looks like tech this time” This is my digital #SocialLife right now. I am certainly thankful for this digital #SocialLife, as it has filled in a void for three years now, but it is not enough.

“Then the lights came on / Brighter than ever before / Can you see them shine?” This is the future, the #SocialLife I want. The darkness, loneliness, is over, and the light, friends, relationships, is shining more than ever before.

“After the blackout I could finally see / I knew the day would come when I would defend my home city / It looks like now’s the time that we should standup for the fight / This blackouts over and I’m ready for the light!” This screams confidence and encouragement that I will overcome this thing. As things change, I will realize this is what I have been asking God to give me and longing for all this time, and I am becoming more of the person I am to be.

Won’t let them fade / This city’s meant for much more!” I am meant for more than my current situation, more than my current status. I have a future, a very bright one at that. I am a smart person, an intelligent being, one who can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. That future also includes people, friends, and true friends.

This confidence is not, however, blinding me from that fact there is a reason I am where I am. I believe everything happens for a reason, that for everything there is a time, a place, and season. This #NoSocialLife mess, as much as I hate it, is going on for a reason. Do I know that reason or reasons? Certainly not in wholeness, no. I can see in hindsight that this needed to happen so I could shine some light into someone else’s life, even on this very topic right now, for if I had friends I may have never meet them one and a half years ago and we would not be the friends we are now. I think only in near or complete hindsight, after the blackout, will I completely see why this occurred, and even then, 100% of the picture may be hidden even until the day I die. All I know is right now, I need to look forward to the good things that will occur, and not dwell on the current, for the current is only temporal and lasts but a moment, and while the future is also temporal, it is brighter than the present.

I may have #NoSocialLife now, but one day, I will have a real #SocialLife, and I will have #SmackedNoSocialLifeSilly and #ThrownNoSocialLifeCleanOutOfThisWorld.