On being disposable

Posted Apr 15 2016, 8:59 am in , , , ,

Disposable is a word I’ve come to despise lately.

“Discarded when no longer useful…” is how the dictionary defines it. Well, that may be fine for diapers or razors and the like, but lately, we’re applying it to people. Social media makes it far too easy to ghost people and when you’re the one treated like you no longer exist, it’s a painful state indeed.  

Throughout my life, I have struggled to make friends. I’m on the shy/introverted side. I can be outgoing when situations warrant it, but it takes work on my part…effort I expend only for good reasons. I prefer to be curled up with a book in my own house than out with people, especially people I don’t know well.


Because people always judge.  They give you one chance and if you blow it, you’re history. 

I suppose it’s part of our DNA…we can’t help ourselves. Judging happens all the time and it’s always done from the judger’s personal sphere of reference, never the judgee’s…which means there is lots of room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. 

I have fallen victim to this too many times to count now and every time, it hurts my heart deeper than the last. 

Friends I made in school disappeared as soon as school ended. Friends made at various jobs I’ve held over the years fade away as soon as I move on. Professional contacts I’ve made as an author have gone silent. Even half my family wrote me off after my parents’ divorce, which really hurts because I recently found out they’ve been mad at me all these years for ignoring them. Why didn’t anyone call me back then? Why wait so long? 

Because I’m disposable. 

You know what I’m talking about… you have a friend you spend a lot of time with. Suddenly, that person stops returning your calls, or visibly snubs you when you happen to meet. You ask what’s wrong and the response is a shrug and a terse, “Nothing.” 

You feel the sting. “Okay,” you say and back off, try to convince yourself this person is having a bad day and their treatment of you is not personal. 

But it soon becomes clear that it is entirely personal. Social media only exacerbates the situation. You discover they’ve unfriended you online. And you have NO IDEA what went wrong because if you did, you’d certainly apologize for it, because you never intended to hurt someone you care about. 

And even though this hurts deeply, this is a mere splinter compared to what’s really bothering you… It’s that this person you cared about, considered a friend, respected and held in such high esteem — this person never shared those feelings because if they did, they’d want to talk things over, to find out why you did this thing you did that hurt them so much. It would be awkward and painful to hear but at least you would know. You’d be able to apologize and make things right again, because you care about their feelings. 

Instead, they just shrug, put their nose in the air and never speak to you again. Or maybe even BLOCK YOU online. (Seriously?)

And you are left struggling with the guilt and wonder… what did I do that was so terrible to warrant this degree of punishment? 

For the punishment is always so much more severe than the crime. And usually permanent. 

Imagine experiencing a number of brain-numbing events in a one-month period of time.  For example, maybe you lost a job you enjoyed and had held for fourteen years, lost your god-father and a highly respected coworker on the same day, learned your niece was diagnosed with cancer at the age of thirteen, and then received a barage of insulting emails that compelled you to step down from a board position you’d only held for a month. Add to this list, battles to receive your unemployment compensation and your severance pay.

Is it possible that you might have been snippy or perhaps even rude to someone you care about? 

Is it possible you may have said something disagreeable or forgotten something you’d promised?

Is it possible you could have taken out anger and frustration at one situation on the wrong person? 

You’re not perfect and are usually the first one to admit that. You’re human. You make mistakes. And you are sorry. 

But that’s not good enough. 

Because it’s just easier to hold grudges and toss people out with the dirty diapers. 







3 responses to “On being disposable”

  1. Laura says:

    I truly agree and understand what you are saying. I too am introverted and it takes a lot for me to reach out and make friends. I have had people I thought would always be there (that’s what they said) to just disappear and never say what happened. Real friends talk things out, forgive or understand when you are going through things that cause you to act out of character. Let’s relearn how to get along not run away from each other.