Mom and nephew and cat right now. They’re the only three beings right now that I allow myself to care about the moment-to-moment ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs, whose details I pay close attention to and I’m careful to how I interact as their opinions / feelings of me matters most.
On a more aloof but deep caring level, there’s thousands and thousands online. I care on a moment-to-moment basis and it’s during my interactions with people.
I’m followed by and follow many people in different places online through the years. Right now, it’s Facebook and Instagram mostly with a bit of Tik-Tok (musically), but it’s been through Vine, Google+, Youtube, Minecraft (I ran a server for my nephew from 2012-2014 which ate up my laptop’s resources but it was worth it), and other places online prior to that.
As I’ve been online since 1989, online interactions have formed a significant part of how I care and express that caring.
It’s individual for me. I don’t broadcast and leave. Rather, I take the time to look at what they have to say and like, <3, whatever the service gives you. I know they get a notification from me. I know that in that moment, they get a little self-esteem boost.
But it’s aloof in that I don’t respond to private messages or get involved in their lives other than their public personas online as that’s a time and emotional drain and a bit “too much”.
I’ll sometimes comment. But I always respond to comments made to me. Most of my followers in these places are people with very few followers themselves and I’m usually somebody with thousands so I know the boost is real for them..
I ask, “Why do people reach out online?” Why do they create? Why do they express themselves?
It took a long time for me to realize the simplest and most profound of truths. It was about 5 years ago and it hit me in a big way as a deep fundamental.
“Just notice me”
My greatest happy is when years pass and I get a random message on a Youtube video or Instagram post – or even on iFunny – that says:
“Hey Ken, you probably don’t remember me but…”
and I know I made a difference because I *do* remember. I remember all of them in some way. There’s a whole nation in my brain of little avatars and/or screennames attached to a “sense” of what each person may be like along with something they did or something about them.
It can be tiny. Just two weeks ago, I got a Youtube comment, “Hey Ken, remember me? It’s need fors pee dben10 from your minecraft server”.
I had 27,000 unique visitors on there from 2012-2014. I remember thousands of those. needforspeedben10 had two friends with him, is from Australia, and liked pulling pranks but seemed like a good kid. He was only on there for a few months that I was aware of.
That was from five years ago yet I remembered. I barely interacted with him at all but I formed a significant feature for him enough for him to remember me after five years and I instantly remembered him.
Those little connections, quick interactions, they can stick.
Two electrons that interact become entangled for the rest of their respective existences.
I take that entanglement seriously as I think that being noticed from a human from far far away when one is otherwise trapped in their respective realities of home / school / work / neighborhood expands a person’s sense of who they are and what kind of impact they can have on the world and themselves.
On G+, there’s a woman from India who found me about 6 yrs ago. Lives with her dad who ignores her and the women in the village are rude to her. She writes poetry, seems very poor but at least has phone internet. I have no idea what she looks like, her English is very broken, is probably in her late 20s.
I rarely go on G+ anymore but when I do, “Wenesday October” always likes my stuff and occasionally complains that I’m not around there anymore.
Little things. A guy who only writes in Korean and I only in English is a physics student in South Korea. We occasionally communicate through translate and I know a few things about his life.
My portuguese Orkut friends from long ago follow me on every network I’m on and I recognize all of their names – and I don’t have to understand anything – it’s just occasionally liking each other’s pictures or posts.
Some haunt me. During the Kosovo war in the 90s, I was in contact with a woman who was near the front lines and reported a side we never heard about here at the time. I’d occasionally contribute what we heard here and I’d tell people here what I heard from her.
While the war was still going on, one day her reports just stopped. I never knew what happened. But I remember.
Best compliment I got is when he was 6 and had to see a psychologist for a session due to his father’s death and they worried about him.
The psychologist reported to his family (my in-laws) that he’s concerned about a imaginary friend named Kenny.
It shocked the psychologist to find out that Kenny was not an imaginary friend but is real and everything he said was all true.
Same. I got followed on Instagram by a couple of kids’ football team coaches (whatever magical algorithm Instagram decided to suggest us as friends was right) and next thing I know I’m following and liking a whole realm of American black male mentor stuff, their tough fitness training for the kids, messages to be strong and fierce. A whole world opened up that i never thought about before.
I used to be anti-sports but now I think I “get it”.