Friday, May 8, 2009
You Can't Make Them Be Your Friends
For years now I've tried to develop friendships in cyberspace. I've participated at message boards. I created a blog. I joined facebook. At first it appeared I was making friends. Then I noticed cliques developing and I was not invited to join. There are message board cliques, blogger cliques and facebook … well … it's pointless and, quite frankly, childish.
I made the mistake of thinking I could fit in with the LDS communities (active, inactive and former members). I found that because I was not brought up in the LDS Church, I was on the outside looking in. I was the only member of the Church in my immediate family. I joined the Church when I was 19 years old because I wanted to have something in common with my future husband.
I was a member of record from March 1972 until November 1980. My husband and I were fairly active in the Church while living in Queens, New York. We held multiple callings (concurrently). We were, I'd like to believe, respected in our ward. We were not married in the temple, but felt we were heading toward having our marriage sealed.
Then we made the fatal mistake of moving to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1978. My husband had second thoughts about moving there. I felt since we had started making arrangements to move, we should just do it. Also, I thought it would be so uplifting to live among the Saints in Utah. Such was not the case. It was there that we saw the hypocrisy of the members. It was there we felt unwelcome. We were "strangers" in the wards we attended. Yes, we had some "assigned friends," but we knew their friendship was not genuine.
We chose to be excommunicated from the Church in November 1980. At that time, you could not send in a letter of resignation. From that time forward, I kept my distance from the LDS Church. Then along came the Internet, and I found myself being pulled back into mingling with the Saints in cyberspace.
My first experience was with the on-line group Recovery from Mormonism ("RfM"). It was there that my husband and I found kindred spirits. My husband wrote his story and submitted it to RfM. His story can now be found among the hundreds of exit stories.
For several years I harbored deep resentment toward the Church and its members. My feelings started to change when I found the message board LDS Women. I thought I was accepted by these women, that was until I wrote something that irritated two women on the board. They could not understand why I would want to associate with them if I was not a faithful, active Latter-day Saint woman. Their written attacks on me were vicious. In the end, the administrator of the message board discontinued sponsoring it. LDS Women bit the dust.
As for blogging … I have two blogs, one public and one private. At first I enjoyed blogging, especially when someone posted a comment. But then I started looking at other blogs and realized I am not "popular." Sure, I have numerous lurkers, but few, if any, care to leave a comment. I thought I might shut down my public blog. I told my husband it's like I've been banging my head against the wall and a voice told me "You do know you can stop doing that." Today I decided to add this post.
Recently, a light went on when I read these words: "You can't make them be your friends." That is so true. I was trying to "make" people in cyberspace be my friend. I have learned that it's impossible to do that, at least for me.