Friendship online is such an odd thing. I have a couple of friends in my Clark Kent identity who I’ve known for damn near fifteen years and who I’ve met once and never, respectively, and I don’t have the slightest idea when those numbers might go up again. We met through the previous incarnation of this blog, over at Xanga, and at the moment I can honestly say that the only reason I’m still on Facebook is so that I can keep track of the two of them. I have a handful of other friends who I lost track of after college and reconnected with– again, on Facebook– and for at least one of them I think we actually have a closer relationship now than we did back then. But I never see any of them.
And making friends as Luther is even weirder, right? Because the vast majority of you don’t even know my real name. I’ve got this network of people, mostly bloggers or independent authors, who I interact with a lot on Twitter and a bit less on Facebook and on the blog. I consider a lot of them friends, but the thing is people have Real Lives outside of their online personas (well, I don’t. I’m told people do, though.) and sometimes they just get busy or change jobs or move and their priorities change and suddenly someone you interacted with on a daily or near-daily basis has just gone poof and you don’t know why, and sometimes you don’t even notice for a few weeks, in a way that would never ever happen with people you know in the real world.
And sometimes you log into Facebook and you find out through the grapevine that someone’s depression finally caught them after a lifetime of struggle, and that person is gone, and you don’t really know how to react to it.
“Follows @nfinitefreetime,” it says there. Were I not connected to her on Facebook, too, I’d never have known she was gone. It’s not like Twitter is going to notice and unfollow me on her behalf, right? There was an outpouring of grief among our little sci-fi indie community last night on Facebook and Twitter; I retweeted a bunch of them on my account, or you could just check the #thankyousonya hashtag if you like. There were tons of posts, and the amazing thing, to me, was just how many of the people participating were also people I “knew” and considered friends the same way I did Sonya. She was at the center of a big group of people online, and we were all reacting the only way we could.
I don’t really know her, is the thing. I don’t know her family, or her RL friends, or what she liked to do with her time other than write and hang out with yahoos on the internet. I know she had a cat, named Fang, who was frequently the subject of tweets and Instagram postings. I don’t know where Fang is right now. I hope he’s okay. I know that she was the type of person who created random meme pictures for people she’d never met on their birthdays, which is where that picture up at the top came from. (My Twitter bio at the time referred to me as a friend to muskrats.)
I wish I could have been there for her, when she was suffering, to point out all these people whose lives she’d touched and would miss her when she was gone. But I never did. Part of the reason why? I know people online who are struggling with anxiety and depression and the insane thing is I wouldn’t have listed her as one of them.
I dunno, guys. I don’t know how to end this because I don’t know how I feel right now. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like suicide is their best option. And I want to say something like “If you feel that way, know that you can reach out, even to a relative stranger online,” but the fucked-up part of depression is that that information doesn’t matter and it’s not that simple. She’d probably had people she knew in the real world tell her that, people who she’d actually recognize if they walked past her at the grocery store, not rando authors behind an @ on Twitter. And she took her own life anyway, because that’s how depression fucks with you, because it’s a disease, not a goddamn personal failure, and you can’t help it.
God damn it.
You will be missed, Sonya. I can only hope that you’ve found some peace.