The Isolation Journals: Dead Wrong

In response to an Isolation Journals prompt, I’m thinking about an on-again off-again friend I was wrong about.

Many unprecedented things happened to me in quarantine – one of them was that I entered the world of gaming. More specifically, I fell nose-first into the interactive social universe of gaming communities. Fast-moving, unexpectedly alive, and often poisonous. I signed out and turned quiet on all my old social media platforms and found myself retreating instead into more vast and anonymous corners. It was there that I made many dazzling, fleeting connections.

Let’s get one thing straight. I can’t blame anybody. I, too, was happy to morph into some other more idealized version of myself, given the chance. When you can (and sometimes have to) change your name at a moment’s notice, expecting authenticity should have been far-fetched. But because I believed I was still myself and still being true, I kind of went in assuming everybody was too.

I formed digital circles of friends, spent enough time with them to start casually calling them family. It hardly mattered if we knew each other’s real name or face. It was comfortable and comforting, and absolutely make-believe.

It didn’t take long to occur to me that these tiny pockets of connection were in fact very fragile and conditional, and that being there every day was not the same as being there. One of those online friends consoled me. He correctly guessed from my feelings of disappointment that this was all new to me. He assured me that my heart was genuine and that’s why I thought everybody was too, but that this was something I would have to get used to. He told me time and again, the real ones eventually show themselves because they stick around long after you’ve gone offline.

(Of course, cute little me thought that was his way of saying he’ll stick around, but he’s long gone too.)

I didn’t think it was possible to be wrong about so many things and people all at once. But like I said, many unprecedented things have happened to me in the past two years. It’s just that, with so many people gone, I can’t help but think maybe I’m the one I was wrong about. Maybe I’m the one who was untrue.

“The Isolation Journals” started as a 30-day quarantine creativity project. It was created by the brilliant Suleika Jaouad for the challenging occasion that is COVID-19. A different journaling prompt landed in my inbox every day for the month of April 2020, each one from a different writer, artist, musician or thinker. As the global situation expanded, so too did the journaling project.

Today’s prompt is from published author Elizabeth Gilbert.

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