I’m in an odd position right now.
Since I got married in 1990, at age 33, my wife (whom I’ve promised I would mention online only sketchily) and I have centered our social lives around one organization: The Society for Creative Anachronism, mostly its Metro New York City chapter. It’s a large group that, in a very American approach, re-creates the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, as thoroughly as a participant’s hobby budget allows. We’d been at it for about 17 years straight; she had been in it for about 7 years before we married. She introduced me to nearly everyone I ever met there. When friends would approach us, inevitably it was to speak with her. When I was away from her, she was usually the topic of conversation. They were our sole source of socialization, but they were all her friends.
About a year ago, I made a conscious effort to strike out on my own. I’m proceeding like a guy who’s just moved into a new neighborhood, and is looking to get introduced to everyone. I’m relearning the skill of making friends, and find I’ve forgotten how—not that I was a whiz at it to begin with. I realize now, that new neighborhood is the loose collection of websites and its participants you call social media.
It’s particularly daunting when, at the home page of any of these social media services, I’m invited to join up and invite my friends to join with me. Frequently I’ve responded to the silent screen, “If I had friends, I wouldn’t need you, now would I?”
Then there are the suspicions I have about disgorging so much personal information, some of which I find uncomfortable to talk about, some of which I find irrelevant. Why do you care what kind of music I listen to? I’m not in high school any more.
Still, you all say this is how we discover common ground, and start friendships. So much of this is a leap of faith for me. I’m finding I’ve never trusted strangers to this extent before. Bear with my stupid questions, and recognize that while you may remember being this awkward where I am now, you weren’t 50 years old at the time. I am.