TWO LANE LIFE - The Homeless

I have been connected through (addicted to?) social media now for nearly twenty years. My Face book account is 13 years old. I have blogs and domains that launched In 1999. Every new fad, feature, game, media output, was like candy. New flavors, new features, new, new, new. Nothing like chat, or messaging, or blogs, or posts, or likes— had ever existed before. Heck, residential internet had never existed before.

I have to say though, after twenty years? Social media has gotten rather old. I'm worn out on it. I started disconnecting four years ago, and my life has improved greatly. I have less than SO friends on my private Facebook account. I have an author's Facebook page, tied to an Instagram account, and an email newsletter that I haven't sent out since spring. I have two web sites— a business site, and an author/teacher site. I haven't been able to keep up a regular blog since I picked up a group of psychotic stalker fans in 2007.1 do not have Twitter, Snapchat,TikTok, or a YouTube at all, and I do not have the Face book app on my cell phone. For me, social media is what ruined the Internet.

But on occasion, when I dream of someone I haven't thought about, or someone comes to mind I haven't seen in a while, I look them up through Google. Some of them have "ghosted" me, blocked me on social media over an argument, or falling out. I can't see what's happening in their lives. Others are prolific writers who post about their lives every day, their critters, their issues, their food, their passions. And others, Just "fall off the map."

I love research, and I love search engines. I'm a librarian • I research, and I know things. This is the good side of the Internet — it's the ultimate source of information. Some of it is terrible information, some of it is positive Information, some of it is misinformation, and some of it is too much information. But with the right research methods, you can almost always find what you're looking for.

I recently had an extremely vivid dream about a friend I haven't seen in years. We had a falling out (more of a social media explosion), likely one of the worst In my life. To this day, I still know he Is wrong In his thinking, that there was an extreme misunderstanding, likely related to his mental health, or his habit of mixing alcohol and sedatives. To this day I know I may have been able to fix the friendship, but I chose not to. To this day, I am not willing to "forgive and forget." Usually, when I think of him, I "shake off" the regret. I shake off any concern or curiosity.

But this time, I could not shake off my thoughts of him, where he was, how he was doing, how Covid had affected his life.

I searched his social media, which was all set to private or from which I was blocked. I searched for his website and got a "404 Not Found" result. I searched all the online places where his writing once regularly appeared and found no entries after 2018. I searched for his name in the directory of the last place I knew he was working, and it was no longer there.

Then I did an image search and found an online ABC News interview with him in August of this year. He had lost his job working for the state, lost his car somehow, and was about to be evicted and homeless when the federal eviction moratorium instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expired.

There he was, this professional middle-aged man with a master's degree in communications, a twenty-year career in Public Relations, looking gaunt on national television, wearing a t-shirt, hoodie, and ragged American flag ball cap. sitting on the floor in front of an unmade bed.

I wondered if he had also lost his suits, lost his pride, lost his mind. This was not the man I knew. Surely, a man whose career has been about image and presentation would gussy up a little for a national television interview. Surely, there was at least time to make the bed.

But he spoke of stress, depression, being at rock bottom. Being humbled. At that point I understood the unmade bed.

The bed represented his life at that moment. Disheveled and chaotic. At least he still had his dog.

The interview was August 13, and today is October 10.1 can find no further information of his whereabouts or well-being. I have no Idea how he went from being where he was In his career to almost homeless. I have no Idea now if he even has a home.

We hear about the homeless commonly in our country, and I have seen homeless in WV cities, holding signs at Intersections and sleeping in stairwells. But now, even if he has a home somewhere, when I hear or think of homeless, I see his face, thin and early aged under a tattered American flag hat. He's walking his dog down the street in a bland t-shirt and hoodle, with a laptop tucked under one arm.

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