Dear Cryptically Sad Friend On Facebook

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.

Continued: Dear Schmugglepoo and Cutesybear Expressing Your Love on Facebook

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Kate Donovan

    Man, I rarely comment on blogs, but this was just GREAT.

    • wfenza

      Ditto. This was excellent.

  • Michelle May

    Awesome post, Mr Fincke. I will try to never get annoyed at another “attention-seeking” post again.

  • Cylon

    Good thoughts, Dan. My main problem with “vaguebooking” is I never know quite what to say about it. “I’m sorry you’re sad” seems fine and all, but after 25 posts from other people saying exactly that, I feel weird posting another identical response, so I often don’t post anything. Is that a personal failing on my part? I just feel awkward about it.

  • Ryan

    I stopped reading here a few months ago, but you are really hitting them out of the park right now. I think it’s time to come crawling back.


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