Not Every Story Has A Happy Ending

A friend of mine died this week. Died in his asleep, presumably alone. He was 42.

In this age of social media, maybe I’d call him a former friend, because he deleted me from Facebook a long time ago, but if he had called me needing $100 to make it to his next paycheck, I’d have given it to him without a second thought. The reason I use that particular example is because, knowing his story, it’s probably the mostly likely reason that he would have contacted me.

I won’t use his real name, because I’m going to tell his story in true Speaker For The Dead fashion. Let’s call him “Bob.” Bob was a musical compatriot of mine for a few years, and we toured much of the midwest together in an Econoline van that had a penchant for eating alternators at the most inconvenient times. He was a brilliant guy, easily my intellectual equal and maybe even then some. But Bob’s life was, to put it mildly, a trainwreck.

He couldn’t hold a job for any length of time whatsoever. He had a brilliant mind for computing and programming, but in the time I knew him, he had more jobs than I can remember and none of them were in IT. I know that he worked as a pizza delivery driver, a sandwich artist, and I even got him a job working in the same musical instrument store as I did for a little while, which was the job that he managed to keep the longest—nearly a year or so before he was let go.

I never saw him do anything resembling exercise. His diet was a disaster. He kept himself in such poor physical condition that at the age of 23 he couldn’t even finish a set of music without cramping. I once bet him that he couldn’t run up and down a single city block. I won that bet.

In fact, you could bet Bob to do just about anything, as long as it meant that winning the bet would forgive some of his debt to you. He owed everybody in the band at least a few hundred dollars, including me, because he was always in between paychecks. Once, after a particularly terrible gig on Put-In Bay in Ohio, I told him I would forgive some debt if he could roll on the ground from one end of a parking spot to the other. Of course, there was a catch—the 20 feet or so was covered with mayflies, about three inches deep, thanks to a spotlight that was shining on the blacktop. Bob laid down and began to roll his round body into the space, but something was preventing him from submerging himself into the sea of insects.

“I really am trying, guys,” he shouted from the ground, “but my body won’t let me do it!” We all cried laughing over that one.

He was forever the victim of “bad luck.” For example, the house that everybody in the band (except for me) lived in was right next to a large dumpster. After one particularly rousing Ohio State football victory, the contents of that dumpster were set ablaze by some enthusiastic fans. The resulting heat from the fire melted most of the plastic bits of Bob’s Plymouth Sundance Duster, including the tail lights. Of course, this is what happens when you get mind-numbingly drunk, pass out on the couch, and sleep through a giant fire that nearly burns down your house.

It wasn’t hard to see the cause of many of Bob’s issues. His father was similarly bright—I think he may have even worked for NASA at one point—but had alcohol and substance abuse issues. Bob’s dad would sometimes show up at the band house with a six pack of beer and a porno tape, looking like he hadn’t slept in quite some time. He hung out with us a lot, but not in the way that you’d expect a cool dad to hang out with his son and his friends—more like he was just one of the other guys in the band who also couldn’t afford to pay his rent or buy anything better than Milwaukee’s Best. The rest of us had at least moderately middle class families with respectable dads, and I think we were all a little bit uncomfortable with this man in his fifties acting this way, or at least I was. I don’t know that he was ever much of a father to Bob or for Bob’s other siblings.

I also don’t remember Bob ever having a single date with a woman in the time that I knew him. I don’t remember a girl’s name even being mentioned in association with him. I think we tried to set him up with a groupie or two but it never worked out. I never saw him wearing anything other than white t-shirts and jean shorts. He didn’t give much thought to how the opposite sex viewed him. He was more interested in playing the latest video game, reading some incredibly complex book, or just drinking himself into a stupor. He wasn’t gay, he was just kind of asexual.

But he was a good dude. He helped me move once, and all he asked for in payment was a six pack and a dinner at Burger King. He was the only guy in the band who was relentless about telling the truth. I remember having a long conversation with him into the wee hours of the night about a girl I was dating who had dumped me for a guy she met on vacation in Miami. “She was a slut, man, but that’s why you liked her.”

Once, he came up to me at a gig with a Pina Colada in his hand, and offered it to me kindly. “I can’t pay you back right now, but I got you a drink.” I had never indicated any sort of interest in Pina Coladas, and I couldn’t figure out why he chose to get me that particular drink, but I recognized the kind gesture on his part.

“Thanks, Bob,” I said, and I took a long drink. As soon as I swallowed, he burst out laughing.

“I just found that drink on a table!” I proceeded to vomit. Good times, man. Good times.

Not too long after I left the band—a parting that was about 20% mutual and 80% not-so-mutual—Bob also left, replaced with a younger, more physically fit, more attractive musician. I didn’t hear much about him after that, other than the occasional social media post. I remember that he posted a mirror selfie of himself wearing a suit, asking for good luck on an interview. He had gained a significant amount of weight, and the suit was ill-fitting and of obviously poor quality. The comments on the picture were of the “hope it works out, you got this” variety, written in a tone that indicated that meant they knew it probably wouldn’t.

Like I said, we were Facebook friends for a while, but then one day, I went to click on his profile and noticed that we weren’t friends anymore. I imagine that one of my more conservative postings probably wasn’t up his alley and he clicked “remove friend” in annoyance at one of them. Or maybe I had done too good of a job at portraying that “perfect social media life”—the suburban house, the 2.2 kids, the travel, the lifestyle—that we all try to create for ourselves, and he had gotten sick of it and decided he didn’t need to see my pictures in his news feed.

Maybe he felt that there was no reason that he couldn’t have had just as good of a life as I did—and still do. He was just as smart, just as talented—maybe more so. He had a good circle of friends, dating all the way back to high school. Yeah, maybe his dad was an alcoholic, but whose parents don’t have some sort of issue? We’re all a little fucked up, right? But most of us are able to survive it, to turn those early life struggles into some sort of hard-luck story that we tell around the dinner table with our similarly successful adult friends/rivals.

Bob couldn’t do it. Maybe he was happy, and maybe he wasn’t. He put on more and more weight, until he became the guy I saw in his obituary photo earlier this week. He had been maybe 180 when I knew him—the Bob in the pic was over 300, easily. He died in his sleep at the age of 42. That doesn’t often happen to healthy people. The obit mentioned that he was survived by his siblings and their families, but made no mention of any life partners. According to that same obituary notice, he had been doing tech support at a help desk for a bank, a job for which Glassdoor reports a salary of $36k a year.

I wish there was some happy ending here. I wish that I could say that he made a difference in the lives of people he touched, or that he would be fondly remembered by thousands at his funeral. I wish I could say that I’d even kept in touch with him over the years—actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m more saddened by the fact that I’m not saddened. Here’s a guy that I shared a van with for four years, and his death is a mere blip on my radar. I’m not going to go to the funeral, because it’s three hours away and my son has a soccer game that night.

More than sadness, I feel angry. I’m angry with him. He should have been somebody. He was smart, he was talented. He was never able to get past his internal demons and fight for a better life. He was talented enough to have been a great musician, smart enough to have been a software engineer. He was funny and likeable enough to have found a soulmate, had a family. He didn’t do any of it.

He died, presumably alone, in his sleep, at the age of 42.

 

43 Replies to “Not Every Story Has A Happy Ending”

  1. Robert Harris

    I’m sorry to hear that Bark. One of my best friends in high school followed the same path. Him, his cousin, and I were thick as thieves. He should have had all the same opportunities we did. Two of us went on to have successful careers and a rewarding family life…he’s still unhappily scraping along. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t keep up with him anymore, there’s just no common ground left. Him, on the other hand, I’m sure I could call him at 2 AM and he would show up with a baseball bat wherever I needed him, no questions asked. I miss our friendship, but we’re different people now.

    Reply
  2. Dirty Dingus McGee

    I would wager that every one of us knows a “Bob”, that is if we aren’t related to one. For me, it was Paul. Used up one liver, got a transplant that wasn’t successful, got a THIRD liver and proceeded to drink that one out of existence. Thing is, the rare times he wasn’t drunk, his intelligence showed thru. He had been a survival instructor in the Air Force, had a tested IQ over 150 but wasn’t interested in college, and could absorb knowledge like a sponge. Just wasn’t interested in using that knowledge for any type of gainful employment. Was happy to be a bum, for all practical purpose. I guess he was happy, because he never showed any disappointment with his life.

    Reply
  3. ScottS

    You gave me a good laugh with the story about the mayflies at Put-In Bay! I’ve been there many times (often very drunk) during the NRA national championships at Camp Perry, and I doubt I’ve seen the last chapter.

    September 11th is certainly a day for reflecting. I was married on this day 36 years ago while in college, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed a fabulous dinner tonight with the same woman I made the promise to in 1982. I puddled up a couple of times tonight remembering my brother lost on August 13th. There is no anger. We have all lived consequential lives, but the unexpected void will not be easily filled. These events are a mirror for our own lives and serve to focus our energy on those things that are most important, those things we can affect in a positive way. Life is short but values are enduring.

    Reply
  4. David Florida

    Wish I could recall exactly which of Jack’s essays here recounted an anecdote. In it, a mentor says of their colleague, “you can’t want something for someone that they don’t want for themselves.” Life in our fifth decade is just the start of seeing friends succumb to their frailties. RIP.

    Reply
      • David Florida

        I wonder, did he ever tell a ‘rube’ story? Mine was about a work colleague, a fellow who had also put me up in a spare bedroom during my divorce. Oftentimes said he would be bringing his gym bag the next day in order to join me in a workout during the lunch hour. A close enough friend that I took the idea quite seriously, though I knew his morbidly obese ways too well. I eventually caught on to the idea that I was being casually manipulated and it broke us for a time. Three years ago he passed in his sleep, aged 52. I’m a small enough person to still be angry, though it seems to happen even to the athletes among us. Such is life…

        Reply
  5. roamer

    In my experience, it’s not the internal demons that drag you down. It’s all the failures that are caused by them. If you haven’t been taught how to succeed – why you have to be not just willing to fight for it, but ready to fight that fight, all the time – then you start out by failing. And after you start failing, the demons spawned by your background are joined by the demons of those failures. If you can’t find the motivation to keep trying in spite of the failures, the demons will eventually make even the attempt to succeed almost impossible. That picture of him in the ill-made suit? He knew what was coming in that interview. But maybe, just maybe, the vision of him in it will spur someone who reads your article to keep fighting for that first win. That would be success of sorts.

    Reply
  6. jz78817

    ” He was funny and likeable enough to have found a soulmate, had a family.”

    he may not have wanted to. I’m 42. I don’t. I’ve literally never felt any burning desire to be with someone, nor felt any need to be a parent.

    What works for you, works for you. don’t act like it’s supposed to work for everyone.

    Reply
    • Panzer

      Good for you bro 👍
      Bob probably didn’t aspire to dying fat and alone for 36k a year, and he could’ve done/had more, but let his personal demons get the better of him. That this is a tragedy is Bark’s point.

      Reply
  7. Baconator

    I’ve always run with a crowd that had its fair share of misfits. Now that I’m in my 40s I’m seeing a certain subset of them carom toward this type of lonely ending. There but for the grace of god. And to a non-trivial degree, self medicating with cars instead of drugs.

    Reply
  8. Bigtruckseriesreview

    One of my “acquaintances” died suddenly from a brain anyeurism.
    I can’t call him – or his brother and sister “friends” because we never really hung out together and we were on casual speaking terms. He had a decent funeral turnout because he was a very soiciable guy, but no wife/ girlfriend or children survived him.

    #1 Social Media is a sickness. It’s tearing relationships apart.

    #2 Our current media keeps us sedentary leading to his weight gain and asexuality.
    It’s not easy to tear away from that.

    “I’m not going to go to the funeral, because it’s three hours away and my son has a soccer game that night.

    More than sadness, I feel angry. I’m angry with him. He should have been somebody. He was smart, he was talented. He was never able to get past his internal demons and fight for a better life.”

    You are a man and can do what you want but I’d be disappointed in you if you let a SOCCER GAME be used as AN EXCUSE not to go.

    You need to go.

    Tell your son – he’ll understand.

    You need to go and you need to speak on your friendship. Not for him – but for your own closure.

    #3 I have several “acquaintances” who are getting their asses kicked by this economy and are literally LANGUISHING in their parent’s basements and attics. I’ve tried to motivate them but they are SPOILED FUCKIN BRATS caught by intertia.

    I can’t change them.

    They all consider me more successful.

    Not because of my two houses.

    Not because of my super cars.

    But because I’m always moving forward…know people who can make changes and myself have the power to hire/fire and make changes.

    #4 The only thing that has klept me from ending up like your friend is relentless ambition for “more” tainted by ultra-Darwinist and Capitalist views.

    Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      I wouldn’t say he needs to go. There are funerals to which the whole family would go, some just me, and some not at all. Hell I know a guy who literally went to a funeral just to make sure the guy was dead.

      Reply
  9. -Nate

    Wow, sad .

    Yes, I know and am related to people like this and it’s heart breaking but I’m lucky to be alive and refuse to let others drag me down with them, a tough life lesson to have to learn .

    Many of our Foster boys are like Bob, born to drug addled Mothers , they have bad mental wiring in spite of often being brilliant .

    Good people here, like the comments .

    -Nate

    Reply
  10. Nick Gomez

    That’s sad. I have a few ‘former friends’ who, in retrospect have basically just used me to get what they want. Yes they were sorta ‘friends’ but things changed and later on they seemed to just use people, and I wasn’t the only one. No one wants to associate with that former friend these days. I wonder if he’ll end up like Bob. The signs are all there.

    Reply
  11. Panzer

    It’s a bitch when people you care about give up and refuse to try or fight for a better future for themselves.. The best you can do is help them when they ask for it, if they ever do.

    Reply
  12. Shortest Circuit

    Now imagine having that in the family – because you just described my brother. God only knows why he is like he is, but neither me, my father or even the granddads were such lumps. Nothing but passed up opportunities, no matter how many times I tell him, that as he ages these will become rarer and rarer. I wish I’d know what causes this behavior. I thought my successes might motivate him, but now I think it actually affects his self esteem rather badly… out of ideas at this point.

    Reply
  13. Jeff Zekas

    Totally relate. My friend, Kahlee, was smart, talented, decently attractive. She died alone in poverty. Her mistake: never got married, never had kids, and had no living family (both parents dead, no siblings). You can’t assume the nanny state will take care of you, despite what the socialists tell you. As the guy in the movie said, “Family comes first”. Without family, you are truly alone, because your friends have their own life. And without someone who loves you, truly loves you, you will die alone.

    Reply
  14. stingray65

    I sometimes wonder how many “Bobs” were saved by the military draft, as the US military is famous for taking people with questionable family backgrounds and lethargic personal habits, and turning them into productive citizens. Bob sounds like he would have been perfect for the military with his intelligence and willingness to follow orders (to win a bet), and as a draftee he would have been forced to get in physically good shape, forced into some job classification and training that would be suitable for his intellect and talents, and forced to build a social network. He might have even had more luck with the ladies, as some women still love a man in uniform. Unfortunately, with today’s all volunteer military, you have to have a desire to join or somebody to push you into it, and I expect Bob never got that push or considered volunteering.

    Reply
    • hank chinaski

      I’d disagree, since you’re talking ‘draft’ which implies ‘combat’. I know of a close example that clearly turned out worse.

      Regarding many of these types in general, it’s important to see them as human tar pits and to keep a healthy distance. This goes treble for the doe-eyed basket cases.

      Those I’ve known on Bob’s trajectory were fairly resigned to their early demise and one would almost think, welcome it.

      Reply
  15. Fred Lee

    An interesting cautionary tale.

    Many of us in the upper-middle-class – affluent category like to think we’re here because of hard work and good decisions, but the reality is success and failure are probabilistic and we’re all we’re all a few bad decisions (or a fair bit of bad luck) from this sort of ending. The best we can do is stack the deck in our favor.

    I have an on-again/off-again buddy in his early 50s. No rocket surgeon mind you, but he is bright and affable. if he would just buckle down and stick at a job for a while he’d have a solid middle-class lifestyle. But he continually makes a series of moderately bad decisions that turn out very poorly for him. Whether it’s the women he gets involved with, or drinking too much while (otherwise legally) carrying concealed and doing something stupid, or getting sucked into road rage.

    Once after being privy to one of his bad decisions, I consulted with a lawyer to ask if I had an obligation to pro-actively contact law enforcement. In the course of the discussion the lawyer asked me a few questions about myself. And at the end of the consultation he looked me in the eye and said, “A bit of unsolicited advice: You don’t need this friend.”

    The thing is, while on balance I’ve probably made more good decisions than bad and almost certainly have a better ratio than my buddy, if some of my bad decisions had gone wrong I’d be in a very different place today. Whether it’s the midnight 140 MPH motorcycle ride in rural Michigan that could have ended in prison or, far more likely, in the side of one of the hundreds of deer I saw alongside the road. Or the time I fired a (legally converted) full-auto Glock 21, not anticipating the kickback the sent a handful of bullets skyward. Or the “pirate BBS” that I ran in college which narrowly escaped the wrath of a megacap from California. I look back on those bad decisions and I’m grateful that I’ve never paid a high price for them. And at the same time it gives me a little more empathy for my buddy whose mistakes are more numerous but also had an outsized impact on him.

    Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      There but for the grace of God. I like to think that in general I realized how lucky I got in a number of instances and tried to change my wicked ways, but that aint the truth.

      Reply
    • stingray65

      Everyone does some dumb stuff growing up, but what separates most of the “lucky” from the Bobs of the world is typically some combination of “smart” dumb where your 140 mph ride takes place on a deserted rural road (except for the deer) rather than an undeserted city street that the Bobs of the world more likely choose, and a “lightbulb” moment when you realize how stupid is would be to continue with these dumb behaviors that the Bobs of the world don’t live to experience.

      Reply
      • Mopar4wd

        True, to some extent. I’m however always amazed when those with poor decision skills fail upwards. Some former friends are very good at this.

        Get busted for possession in Canada (as a canadian citizen) some how get a student Visa for the US. Marry a US citizen. Crash you car speeding in the snow at night break your arm. Decide to bail out of school but get a entry level job at a wood shop. Get fired for starting issues with coworkers. Somehow become a US citizen anyways and get a state job with a nice pension. Again get fired from that for being an ass (yes he got fired from a state job). At this point wife built a nice cleaning services company while having 2 kids. Friend from home town finds you on face book go up for a weekend to relive the old times, get high together and offers a job at his real estate development company. Sell wife’s company for a nice profit and move back to CA. And up screwing a mid size development deal by insulting the primary investors son on a call you thought was muted. Friend keeps you on anyways. Friend is getting burned out running the company on his own and gets an offer for a gig directing a company in Arizona. puts the company in CA up for sale. can’t find a buyer but has to go. Puts you and another guy in charge and decides to split the company. He keeps 60% and sells shares to you and the other guy left running at deep discount to get out for the rest (using money from selling wife’s company) . year after that happens a large deal comes thru to sell a block of apartments developed 10 years before end up taking home close to a million bucks that year.

        Seriously dude keeps making what I would thing are dumb actions and keeps failing upwards. I think a large part is his personality where people tend to instantly like him but man.

        Reply
  16. 05LGT

    Maybe, and I mean that sincerely as I don’t actually know either of you, talent and smarts are a smaller part of success and demons and other obstacles (looks, athleticism, social connections etc.), or the lack thereof play a larger part than you think.

    Reply
  17. Rob De Witt

    What you wanted for him is not what he wanted; speaking from experience, the greatest likelihood is that he never knew what he wanted, and drifted through time hoping to encounter something, anything, which would give him the motivation the rest of the world was always talking about.

    He had no parents, Mark. Try for awhile to imagine the void that leaves in a kid’s heart. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just nothingness. He was lost; not all of us get found, and it’s a lifelong struggle.

    Reply
  18. Gene B

    Unfortunately our modern world has really twisted what life is about. The Pareto principle affects everything – when you look at it it’s clear, there will always be the 20% that are the winners. In our modern society there is only room for the winners. What do we do about all of those in the bottom half – or worse – the bottom 20%? We call them “sad” but what if we just all realized this they are as normal – and as numerous – as the top 20% that get all the fun and cool experiences? Wouldn’t we see the world differently? Wouldn’t we be different, other than just blaming them for their incompetence, ugliness, or failures, and looking coldly the other way because we are uncomfortable? Bob is everywhere, and no one cares.

    Reply
  19. Paul Alexander

    Very sorry Bark, and your anger isn’t misplaced. It shows what a good friend you were, as you expected more of him because you truly believed in him and what he was capable of.

    I just turned 40 this year and find myself in a similar situation to your friend: nothing to my name and no one in my life. Unlike your friend, I’ve been doing everything in my power to find opportunities for the last five years to absolutely no avail. Just got let go from a $12.75 an hour temp gig today in fact, which represented the best opportunity I’ve been able to drum up the last couple years. As things continue to get more dire with no abatement in sight, my brain has been producing similar scenarios such as the one that befell your friend as a real possibility for myself, minus anyone noting my passing.

    Reply
    • David Florida

      Paul, I turned 40 back in 2005. It was a year of lousy internet-sourced dates, abundant anger and concerns about my waistline and whether I’d ever be out of debt. Within five years I had completed a full marathon, married, was expecting a son, and was headed for middle aged stability. Here’s an expression that is best at showing my keen grasp of the obvious, and worth what you’re paying: change is mandatory, while our response is in our control.

      Hang in there!

      Reply
      • Paul Alexander

        I appreciate the sentiments but my situation is beyond platitudes at this point. I’m facing straight up homelessness. I’ve been hanging in here for five years, my situation has regressed dramatically during this time and the major life indicators are still trending in the wrong direction. I’m very glad to hear your life has turned around, it does help to hear to counter examples to my own.

        Reply
  20. NoName

    One word: childhood. Sounds like you grew up in a different world than he did (i.e. your fathers were polar opposites).

    You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

    Later in life, one often remembers things from childhood they thought they had forgotten or buried. Screaming. Swearing. Name-calling. Threats. Abuse. Violence.. – From parents!

    I put myself in a very successful station in life to get away from it, but later gave up. The Great Recession was the impetus. Not all of us had wealthy parents to give us a boost in life. (I kind of want to use the word “privileged” here but it gives me too much of a Socialist vibe). No boost, ever.

    I grew up in the same neighborhood as many cousins—they are ALL on pills for mental issues. One scored in the highest percentile in the college entrance exams—dropped out and stocks shelves (after a long hiatus brought about by mental issues). He had no father and his mother was awful—her sisters are all the same.

    None of us had perfect childhoods, but I can’t get over the fact I never had love from my parents. That’s hard to accept. Thank God I had a ton of extended family and a wonderful Christian community who DID love me.

    Reply
  21. Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

    Don’t worry about your friend removing you from Facebook. This week, I also went through and removed about 90 percent of my Facebook friends. I also deleted a bunch of photos, my work and school histories and a bunch of other crap. There wasn’t any odd subtext to what I did – I’m not being stalked and I am not paranoid about the way Facebook collects my data – I was just tired of it. I think I have about 15 “friends” on there now – 10 of whom are blood relations.

    So you have to wonder about Bob, but I think you are reading a lot into it, Mark. Not everyone is wired the same way and what you and I might think was a life of unfulfilled potential might have been everything that Bob wanted. He was doing OK, not stressing things too much and then, one night, he just went to bed and didn’t get up the next morning. There are a lot worse ways to live a life and,if you think about it, the world really doesn’t care anyhow.

    That’s the most frightening part of this whole thing, isn’t it? We can slip through life one day at a time or we can set goals and drive towards a result. Whichever we choose, it doesn’t matter in the end.

    Reply
    • rnc

      A friend of mine is a psychiatrist, works in an office with another and about 8-9 psychologists/therapists of varying sorts. Was hanging out with a few of them one night when the subject of facebook came up. They said you’d be blown away at the number of people that come through there and after all the medication and therapy, once all the layers of the onion have been peeled away, their problem is social media. Marriages broken, not by affairs, but by jealousy of others perceived lives (hey look at this picture and quote about my perfect life, etc). How miserable someone you knew casually in 7th grade worlds view can make you. And 9 out of 10, won’t let it go.

      Reply
      • Domestic Hearse

        This is absolute mental health gospel.

        My wife, the Good Doctor, is also a practicing psychologist. She sees clients from high-school to college aged students, all the way to elderly people facing health issues, or relationship issues with batshit crazy adult children.

        For the vast majority of her clients — I’m talking 80% — their issues are caused by, or exacerbated by, social media. From kids with their noses-in-their-phones world view, to middle-aged adult Facebook addicts humblebragging lies about their lives and fighting about politics, to porn-addicted and/or secret-hook-up site sexual-secret holders, these addictions to social apps and sites are fueling deep, constant emotional pain (in themselves, and usually, also in people that love them).

        And most cannot, will not, stop.

        Won’t stop ruining friendships and family relationships because of their social site ranting. Won’t stop ruining their marriages with secret emotional affairs, sexual hook-ups, or porn addiction. Can’t shut off the constant need for validation from “friends” and instead of studying, working, or sleeping, and are up all night seeking validation from their phone screen. Can’t unplug from the game box where virtual friends play shoot-em-up video games, rather than getting up and going out to have relationships with real people in the real world. Unable to stop posting damaging, unflattering, embarrassing content that lives on the interwebs forever.

        For technology that was supposed to “bring us together,” nothing has torn more friendships, families, marriages apart than social media. Never mind the crashed careers, university rejections, and long-term embarrassment that drunk/stupid/young posts, done in a moment of impulsivity, still exist permanently.

        And for what? So that Big Data can save your every keystroke, then cookie your web history, and sell ‘digital you’ to advertisers. We make ourselves miserable by getting addicted to sites that harm us, so that Amazon can push more junk our way, so we can waste money trying to make ourselves happy, now that we’ve made ourselves miserable.

        It’s pure insanity, but somehow, so addictive, in spite of the pain and suffering it causes, most people cannot stop. We’re only starting to learn why – that the whole social site platform is based on little pleasure center hits – and we sit at our computers, like mice in cages in front of the cocaine dispenser, pressing again-again-again-again for just one more hit, one more validation, one more like, a thumb, anything. Just please notice me, somebody, anybody…

        Hello?

        Anybody?

        Pretty Orwellian stuff, huh?

        Now delete that crap and go outside, introduce yourself to the neighbor you haven’t gotten around to talking to in over two years. It’s gonna feel weird at first, but trust me, it’s gonna get better.

        Reply
  22. AoLetsGo

    Grew up in a nice home, a safe place with love and fun.
    Stood on my giant father’s shoulders to get past the point I would have made it on my own.
    Married a good, independent woman who loves me more than I deserve.
    Raised two great kids who are now hardworking, productive Citizens of society.
    I am the cool Uncle to 12 nephews who will take them skiing in the mountains, mountain biking, scuba diving, rock climbing, bar hopping, jet skiing, road tripping, whatever.
    I have many friends, co-workers, and neighborhood guys who say they want to be me when they grow up.
    My career is one where I make good money, enjoy with a passion and have great co-workers.

    But we all have our demons….
    Many mornings it is hard to get out of bed, and the horrors of the night – don’t get me started.

    In closing, your old friend (who made poor life decisions) dies and you go to a kid’s soccer game.
    That is cold.

    Reply
  23. Narcoossee

    “He was a brilliant guy, easily my intellectual equal and maybe even then some.”

    Christ…don’t break your arm patting yourself on your back.

    Reply
  24. galactagog

    I sorta agree with Miles Davis about going to funerals
    RIP
    he’s dead. not going to make much difference to him whether or not you go?
    or maybe it would be a nice gesture

    Reply

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