For the Friends I’ve Lost

Our lives are fundamentally alike. We are flesh and blood and finite, frustrated and furious at the things we cannot change. One and all, we are dimly aware of a mounting ill-ease that threatens to cut us all down or, at very best, fundamentally change the lives we’ve taken for granted.

Yet we shy away from the sinewy things that held us together. We scan the screens for any little statement or suspect word choice or lingering footprints of errant clicks in support of blasphemy. We denounce once kindred spirits for ignorance. Everyone is an apostate, friends and family included. Heads will roll as we attempt to slow this avalanche of heresy and treason.

The unfollow and unfriend function does neat work where words fail. Passive aggression and buzzword edification do little to satisfy our collective lust for the accountability of suffering. Cold shoulders and stark silences are the new picket fences and horizontal blinds. We were neighbors once in the place called life, but now we merely exist within close temporal proximity to one another.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That’s life. Forget about it. Our lives are different. We will never be the same. Move on. We knew this would happen. There has to be a cost for all of this rancor and it may as well be the love of the things we shared.

My truth is not your truth. My offense is your delight. Our respective instances of rhetorical martyrdom are but little lunacies appropriate to the age of denunciation.

Maybe I stink of communism or fascism or racism or privilege or political correctness or naivety or whatever discord colors our particular parallax. It doesn’t really matter.

The great tearing apart at the seams, the new factionalization, the bizarre digital tribalism, documented 24/7/365 by the channels and streams and accounts you most trust.

“How To Secure Friends Via Amplified Targeted Niche Marketing In The Days Before World War III,” my favorite influencer says. “Staying Mindful In Nuclear Winter,” the tastemakers croon. “The 10 Pop-Culture Non-Issues You Need To Focus On To Forget The Sorrow,” the cunning headlines roll.

“QUIZ: What Media Figures Will You Fret About During The Approaching Great Calamity?”

Somewhere an algorithm decides who you will hate and why based on your cookies. “Good for us,” we say, “loathing made simple!”

In the gaps between the micro-snippets and sound bites that tell us how to feel and think and view, I can’t help but lament the handshakes and grins, the campfires and classrooms shared. The shitty jobs, the cheap beers. The ice-cold nights and the humid days. The pain and joy we endured together.

That was then and this is now.

You and I are powerless so we funnel our rage into surrogate behavior and willfully forget the times we thought we were alike in all circumstances except the split roads of fate that would eventually render us each enemies in service of that cold screen and the warm hate its blue distance insists on.