the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

About a Catfish: fresher than my local area


Based somewhat on my thoughts about Steve Betz’s post on a film called “Catfish”.

It’s about friendships and other relationships by way of the Internet, to give you the gist of it. Personally, I am preferring these online interactions to local stuff, as of late. Just to reference a thread on the post:

Hangaku Gozen wrote: Having lost the close ties of a small town or extended families, perhaps we have now the internet to create new ones.

I wrote: I think it might be a two-way effect, but I’m not really sure. I think societies, particularly affluent Western ones, are becoming much more insular. Are we coming online because local communities have broken down? Or are communities breaking down because more people are online?

HG: My primary-care doctor said she thought people who spend too much time online were depressed. That might be true: as you start shutting down emotionally, you may start turning more and more to the internet partly to escape, and partly because it’s easier to chat or email people than have to talk to them face to face…But I find my internet relationships stimulating and fun…And because of the internet, I’ve gotten more active in my community: it’s easier to find out what’s going on, and what opportunities are out there. So it’s like so many other things we have at our disposal: it’s what you want to make of it.

Steve: …It’s funny, but when I travel I find myself wanting to go see my blog friends maybe more than some other “old school” people that I know…

Me: It seems sadder the deeper I try to look at it. I was talking with my therapist/counselor yesterday. I *do* have a mental illness and some trauma issues I’m still working on, but basically, it is getting harder and harder to connect in my local community. I have been working with her to get involved as such. I noted that my local area does NOT have very much of an Internet presence, and joked, “They are probably all on Facebook.” She strongly agreed: “They are!” and we talked more about how residents just seem so… insular. I mentioned what my gamer/geek friends and family had said about our local convention of late… The consensus seemed to be that the local community is in a rut and doesn’t seem to want to climb out. Many are becoming weary of being involved in the con as it’s growing too big, but there is no branching out to separate conventions, the community seems cliquish and not doing much to recruit new folks, etc.

There is more to the conversation, but I’ll let you read more on that, dear readers. In short: I like where I live. I come down like a ton of bricks on hipsters that dis my area as The Ass End of Nowhere and shit like that, but… sadly, I must admit the reputation isn’t totally unfounded. We can’t help that we’re off the beaten path right now (read: I-5 freeway), but… people are INCREDIBLY insular here, and I would bet that a majority are INDEED mulling on Facebook and won’t branch out into anything more exciting the Internet has to offer.

My therapist is trying to get a men’s group started at Bethel church. I balked a little bit, mostly because I am wary of mainline Protestant churches that have a big, “feel good” presence. I fear … well, I fear the taint of authoritarianism and the Moral Majority. But she’s got a good idea going: I’m just not getting what I need at my own church. I don’t mean I’m going to leave the LDS faith, but I do mean that my ward, my local congregation… it’s not enough. They are in a “when is it going to be someone else’s turn to help?” phase as of right now and I’m just not wanting to ask them for any more assistance.

As I just said… the gaming/geek/SF/fantasy/etc. community here has a similar problem. My wife badly wants to start gaming in RPGs again, but, the last player we had at our games was TERRIBLY flaky.

Generally… I am spending a lot of time online because I don’t have many options offline. I don’t think it has to be that way, but I am digging and not coming up with much.

Please note: once again, as this is a more personal post, it will be handled in the usual time-sensitive manner. (Please ask if you have arrived here on my invitation and didn’t get my explanation on that.)

Author: jaklumen

Wherever you see "jaklumen", that's me- the username is still unique as of the current year. Be aware that the facet you see, is only a small part of the me that is me.

5 thoughts on “About a Catfish: fresher than my local area

  1. I live in the middle of a forest. I had to get up at 5AM as a kid to be bussed into civilization (and I don’t “just’ mean ride a bus, I mean they had to import me). I’ve lived other places, including suburbs and even a crappy city. There are more chances of meeting like minds or even crap groups. Here, one must be content with talking to trees, which is fine a lot of the time.

    Now that I’m in a hrm…mindset to finally change jobs, I’m also open to moving. “Whatever. Just give me a LIVING.” It opens up those memories of hey, ya know? In other areas, there are PEOPLE. Don’t get me wrong, I hate people as much as the next guy but when getting a job is ONLY acquired via networking and you haven’t spoken to anybody new (and certainly not accomplished in this area, “this area” being used to describe a 50 mile radius), it’s starting to look good.

    Good luck on whatever groups of new people you can meet. You never know what a change of scene can bring.


    • Understood. I haven’t lived that remote, but… I just want a balance. I want to be able to go out and socialize, and then retreat to a wide open space when it gets to be too much. My last venture went very badly. I investigated a board gaming group on the invite of a friend, and was chagrined to find it was run primarily by an engineer who made fun of how badly I lost games in the session reports. (Lovely triggered memories of how badly I always lost to my cousins playing board games, and worse.) The locale was often VERY overwhelming; I’d retreat to the back room for games just so I could be away from the din of the noise and the crowded space. My kids were not welcome, even at nights at a local diner that had a kid’s game night. There was a woman that would take some time with us and the kids, but EVERYONE else ignored us. This woman said some unkind and calloused things about my religion later (long story) and she kept making excuses for the engineer’s social faux pas. (She really unfortunately fit the stereotype of the fat woman who tries very hard to be everyone’s friend… but sometimes fails miserably.) Long story short, I realized that all too often at a game session, I’d dream about going home. I wasn’t having fun anymore.

      And no one cared when I left. Not at all. Well, okay, maybe a few did, but I realized that it would not be wise to discuss it much with them.


  2. I get the impression that you live in the Northwest. Could it be the local culture as well? My son lives in Washington state, and he jokes about the unfriendliness or lack of warmth so many people there display, especially in Seattle. He thinks some of it might have to do with the weather driving everyone indoors, where they closet themselves away from strangers: but if that’s true, then what about Minnesota, for instance, where you get brutal winters, but strangers will chat with you at the grocery store?

    Then there’s California, where people are sometimes too much in your face. The social vibe is laid back and casual, but if another stranger comes up to me and starts telling me about her problems with her boyfriend, I’m moving to WA. 😀

    I *probably* spend too much time on the internet, since it’s difficult to leave the house. My elderly parents can’t answer the phone, can’t discern between junk mail and a utility bill, and seem hellbent on burning down the house. But when I get the opportunity, I’ll go out and see what’s been happening around town, visit the local museum, check out our little library, and window shop. I tend to be shy, but will talk to strangers if they seem approachable. I’ve also thought about joining a church just for the sense of belonging to a larger community (I used to be Episcopalian), but like you I don’t enjoy being told what to think about spirituality or what’s allowed/not allowed.

    But it’s so much harder to meet people in RL than it used to be, I think. Most people’s lives are very work-oriented, and if you don’t have a job, it’s remarkable how lonely that can make you feel. And as Steve mentioned in comments on his post, there’s a tendency for people to go home after work and not socialize with coworkers after hours, maybe because work sucks up so much of your energy. So I don’t have any concrete answers to the problem: only that the internet has been helpful to me in reaching out, and maybe not so helpful in being present in the RL world and my community.


    • I live in Washington state as well, but not near Seattle. I’m in the southeastern corner of the state, in Kennewick, near where the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers converge. Many in the Tri-Cities area have an ongoing gripe about Sea-Tac: that residents believe we live in a cultural wasteland, and that the Hanford nuclear legacy looms much too large in their minds, not to mention that nuclear is still very uncool right now. The area is emerging, but much of the surrounding towns still haven’t outgrown their agricultural roots. Even Spokane two and a half hours to the north is much too sleepy for many a hipster’s tastes. About the only thing that interests them is the growing wine industry.

      I wanted to be clear that I am active in my church, and I’m not really against organized religion. But… I suppose my views are still outside the mainstream. I’m fine with the doctrine, but the culture, and some of the people… well, I am disappointed. I just still struggle to fit in, again, mostly because I am on disability and therefore don’t have a job. (I also don’t drive everywhere… we often walk to church, and we are like the only ones that do so.) But… even if work is draining people, that’s not an excuse, or didn’t use to be, you know? I think work has just changed and has stopped providing social opportunities, or something like that. I can’t help but notice even at the company picnics, BBQs, and such… they aren’t affluent and/or white people. (Talked about this a LOT with my baby sister, and she’s married to a Peruvian guy.) I mostly see the new Hispanic working class, and other immigrant groups. My people don’t have time for some reason, and I think it’s because working priorities have changed.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, by the way. It means a lot to me.


  3. Fascinating!!!

    I hope that you find a balance in your area, as to local interaction, etc.

    Society can be such a maze.


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