Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When Facebook is your Family Connection

It is pretty safe to say that I am estranged from my little brother. Partner and I moved to Chicago this time 2 years ago, and I have seen my brother once. That same year (2009) at Christmas with my family in West Virginia. We've not seen each other since. Not when my family came from across the US last summer to visit. And, he's not planning on coming in the next family vacation this summer.

Now, please don't misunderstand the previous statements as though I am wishfully hoping that he shows up unexpectedly on my doorstep. I haven't made the effort either. I haven't made the effort, because my brother and I glared at each other for 18 years waiting on the ability to get away from one another and the very moment I could move...I did. To say we dislike one another is the grandest of understatements.

A lot of people believe in a version of reincarnation that says we travel from lifetime to lifetime in "Soul Groups." Basically, in a soul group, eventually each soul plays all roles to all people until those souls figure out how to fully understand one another. I'm almost positive that my brother and I were enemies in a past life. Not just any enemies, but we were some sort of Lex Luthor/Superman dichotomy. Something for the ages. Because since 1989 (he's younger) we've pretty much loathed one another.

The interesting thing about Facebook is that you keep up with people for years beyond the shelf life of the actual relationship. The folks you knew in high school no longer matter in your daily life, have nothing to do with your current circle of friends, and you probably wouldn't recognize if you were standing next to them in line. However, through the miracle of Facebook, you can now click through their status updates rather than finishing those charts for work like you're supposed to!

But, then there's this feature where...get this...you can hide the updates from certain friends. They will still be listed in your friends list, and they won't get their feelings hurt because you've un-friended them. (By the way, WHEN did that horrible amalgamation of terrible grammar become a word?) What's the point of this? You're not keeping up with them. You're not watching what is going on in their lives. Yet, you are holding on to their "friendship."

This is the point at which my brother and I find one another. We're not even listed as family members of one another. I honestly think we've not un-friended (there's that word again) one another simply to alleviate my mother's worry that we will completely lose touch after my parents' deaths. (By the way, not only will we, but I don't think either of us can wait for the day.)

Yes, Rioters, I am not exactly proud to say it, but it's true: we simply want nothing to do with one another. It was never a case of love with us. And that's sad. Honestly, I wish I had a brotherly connection with him. I wish we had a reason to talk to one another, but we are one another's antonym. I keep being told this will change with time, and that may be...but if something (Goddess forbid) were to happen to my folks tomorrow...I can honestly say we'd probably lose touch forever. It's a beautiful idea, brotherly love. A beautiful idea, like so many things, doesn't necessarily mean it becomes a reality.

So this is my dirty little confession. I don't love my brother. I'm sure I'm now a terrible person in most of your eyes, and I can respect that. But family is not necessarily connected by blood, nor should it be. For a period of time at the beginning of your life, you can do very little to select who you keep around you. As you get older, though, you can - and I believe should - choose your friends and family. If someone only brings you down, makes you feel bad about yourself, or simply does nothing but express disdain for you, they shouldn't be in your circle. While it may be odd due to what we're all told about societal need for family, it's necessary for the betterment of your mental health.

At least, that's how I see it. What does YOUR family look like? What do YOU think about that odd little hide people feature on Crackbook? Do YOU have any relatives who you don't consider family, or any non-relations that you do?

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

9 comments:

  1. This reminds me of something my mother said at my birthday dinner a couple weeks ago. I don't remember what my three siblings and I were talking about but my parents were just watching us w/ a bemused expression on their face & I heard my mom tell my dad that you couldn't find four more different people in one room than us.

    I'm actually not esp close to anyone in my family. I used to be to my younger brother and sister, but that had more to do w/ the fact that a nine year age difference, busy parents & an indifferent, social butterfly of an older brother, usually left me to watch them. And it gets worse the farther away on the family tree they are. And they all being devout Catholics & me in my non-Catholic corner does not help.

    I un-friended my roommate on Facebook after months of having her hidden. Just because you've hidden someone's status, does not prevent them from seeing yours & she had to comment on every damn thing I posted. I just got sick of it. Maybe that was unkind, but it was either that or murder. This was a few months ago & I don't think she's even noticed.

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  2. Don't feel bad. I guarantee that you are not alone in the my sibling is also my mortal enemy boat. I have a similar relationship with my sister. I think we love to hate each other. Ugh. Wish it were different but I think you just have to embrace the idea that not every sibling relationship is a great match up and it's ok.

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  3. Wow. You just described me and my sister. Only, it's less of a Lex Luthor and Superman relationship so much as a Maleficent and Maleficent's younger sister kind of archenemy duo. We have always been Night and Day in personality, body type, health concerns, tastes, interests, you name it. She and I have never seen eye to eye, and due to age old issues too personal to go into here, I will never be able to fully trust her. Apathy seems to be the best word to describe the chasm between us. In our youth, it was violent. Now, we have come to a better place. Unlike you and your sibling, she and I have come to a place where we can be civil and amicable for short durations, as long as they have a frivolous short-term goal. But this is tentative and fragile. Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe one day I will share mine.

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  4. I hope this doesn't come off as pretentious or as though I'm putting on my "high hat", but this article really makes me quite thankful of the awesome relationship I have with my older brother. In fact, he and I are a confidante to one another. If your brother and yourself were mortal enemies in a past life, then my brother and I must have been war-buddies. Though, on another note, two people I have the misfortune of sharing some DNA with are very much another story. In fact, my family and I are convinced that they were Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in THEIR past lives.

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  5. You are not alone and you are not a terrible person. I have a feeling that when mom is gone some of my sisters will no longer be on speaking turns.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this, you are definitely not the only one in this situation. I have (had!) the same kind of relationship with my mother and I totally agree, a family is not connected by blood. Would it be nice to have a mother? Yeah sure, but not this one (she hates or pities everybody who is not exactly like her; I am the exact opposite). On the other hand, I am not blood-related to my twin brother, and he is the person I love and respect most in the world; I am very lucky to have him in my life. THIS is family.

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  7. As someone who has a very good relationship with both parents and my brother, I feel mostly sadness for your situation. :-( But, at the same time, I understand that we don't choose our family and I will defenetely not judge you because of this. I also understand that since this is something that you never knew, brotherhood love, that you cannot miss it.

    While thinking about your blog post, I realized that, actually, I know more people who don't get along with members of their family than the other way around. You certainly don't have to feel ashame for this, like they say: Our friends are the goddess's excuse for our family. ;-)

    Much hugs!

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  8. You're not a terrible person at all. Your honesty is refreshing. IMO, growing up in the same household does not obligate one to maintain familial connections. Although, it is nice to have those kinds of relationships. One question: What if you or your brother fell on hard times and your parents were not around? I've observed that the recession has brought many families together due to financial necessity. Sometimes, a natural disaster becomes the tipping point. Thoughts?

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  9. You're not a terrible person. My brother and I had the same relationship until a few years ago, but *he* had to change. He did terrible things to my family when he was younger, and until he changed I had absolutely nothing to do with him. I'm glad that we have a relationship now, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't (and don't) allow toxicity in my life. And he was toxic.

    So, it seems like most of the commenters here understand. You're right--you can choose your family. I'm thankful for that.

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