Dear Cryptically Sad Friend On Facebook Who Just Announced That You’re In Pain But Can’t Discuss The Particulars,
As the kids like to say, I know that feel.
And I want you to know I feel sad when I hear you’re sad and I am available to talk should you ever think it will help you. And no worries if you don’t ever take me up on the offer. I’m justglad you told me something was wrong so I had the chance to let you know I cared at the moment you needed to hear it. I won’t throw a fit and call you a narcissistic tease or disparage you for looking for attention while keeping all the juicy details of what’s wrong in your life to yourself. You’re not here for my entertainment. You have a right to express your feelings without explaining them if that’s what’s best for you right now. It’s important for you to express yourself for its own sake. I get that. And those people dismissing you as “just looking for attention”? Fuck that. You deserve attention. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for wanting to be seen and known and heard and understood. It’s your goddamn life. You have every right to care whether anyone else takes note of it or not and to reach out when you feel lonely or forgotten or alienated in your pain.
And I get that sometimes you can’t divulge all the details for any number of reasons. They’re none of my business if you say they’re none of my business. Sometimes the details involve other people and it would be wrong to drag them into the public or you just want or need to keep your dealings with them private. Sometimes they involve personally compromising information or would threaten to drastically alter the way others see or treat you and you rightfully don’t want that. I know that if you’re like most people, you’re loathe to be inundated with unsolicited advice. Sometimes you’ve only just begun sifting the implications of something and don’t want to be overwhelmed with hundreds of people’s thoughts on it. You don’t want to hear “I told you so’s” or trite, simplistic, trivializing, and useless cliché advice that doesn’t account for even a fraction of all the difficult variables you have to sort through or all the uncontrollable obstacles you are contending with. You don’t want people who don’t have your struggles to tell you why they’re your fault and you’re just a whiner and the just world we live in is justly punishing you for your stupidity or inferiority. Maybe you’re suffering through mental illness and don’t want people telling you that’s not a real thing. Maybe you’re not mentally ill and you’re tired of people dismissing the rationality of your pain as though it’s inherently sick to be sad when your life falls apart on you. You don’t want to put up with know-it-alls or the people who invalidate your feelings or your experiences. You’re just in pain and you just want to scream “OUCH! OHMYMOTHERFUCKINGGODTHISFUCKINGHURTS!”
And that’s okay. “Vaguebook” all you want. I’m not going to judge you harshly for your emotions. You owe me nothing–neither your silence nor your details. But I love you, Cryptically Sad Friend. Everybody hurts. I’m here when you need me. I’m glad you made your status update to let me know you’re in pain so I can at least reassure you that you’re not alone in the world, for whatever good that can do you. And should you take up my offer and share your problems with me, just give me a heads up whether what you want is my advice or just my sympathetic ear so you can verbalize your perceptions and feelings and just confirm you’re not totally crazy. And I’ll follow your lead.
Have some R.E.M.
And if you can use another friend, I’m here.
If you enjoy reading my philosophical blog posts, consider taking one of my online philosophy classes! I earned my PhD and taught 93 university classes before I went into business for myself. My online classes involve live, interactive class discussions with me and your fellow students held over videoconference (using Google Hangout, which downloads in just seconds). Classes involve personalized attention to your own ideas and questions. Course content winds up tailored to your interests as lively and rigorous class discussions determine where exactly we go. Classes are flexible enough to meet the needs of both beginners and students with existing philosophical background
My classes require no outside reading or homework or grades–only a once weekly 2.5 hour commitment that fits the schedules of busy people. My classes are university quality but I can offer no university credit whatsoever. New classes start up every month and you can join existing groups of students if you want. Click on the classes that interest you below and find the course descriptions, up-to-date schedules, and self-registration. 1-on-1 classes can be arranged by appointment if you write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.