The fade of a friend

Charles was an ordinary guy, with ordinary friends, an ordinary job and an ordinary life. He enjoyed his work, loved his friends and found his life fulfilling and profitable as he sought to live with the big picture in mind.
Charles’ friends were kind and fun, but ordinary. None of them were stars, none were rich, none were nationally recognized. If they had been, they probably would not have been friends with Charles because he was ordinary as well.
One of the favorite evening activities of Charles and his friends was to sit around and talk. At times their conversation centered on the mundane and trivial, at times it dove deep as they pondered the meaning of their lives and their place in this world. Whether trite or profound, their conversation was a conversation. There was give and take, questions and answers, arguments and agreements.
As Charles and his friends grew and advanced in years they began to seek new ways to communicate and share their lives with one another. Not all of them worked for the same company, and none of them lived in the same community. There was a seemingly endless variety of methods available to stay in touch and share life experiences as they progressed through life together.
Charles latched on to several of these “tools” more quickly than his friends. He pioneered new ways of self expression and invited his friends to join him. He realized many of the old friends with whom he had lost contact could easily be connected with him and his life. He also realized that many of those whom he respected could be connected with just as easily. Whether junior high classmate or national celebrity, he could attach himself to them.
Charles and his circles grew. Gradually at first, but then more and more rapidly, Charles’ group of friends widened. He became friends with his old coworkers, his state congressman, and his neighborhood coffee shop. He followed the musings of his pastor, his cousin, and his favorite musician.
Soon Charles realized that the more people he connected with, the more people connected with him. The more people whom Charles followed, the more people followed Charles. The more Charles said, the more people read.
Lest they be forgotten, Charles still met with his old friends the same as before. They still laughed about their ordinary experiences, and shared their ordinary thoughts, and argued their ordinary preferences. As they would share, Charles would sometimes pass on what was being said, or what they would do. This was to include all his other friends in his ordinary life.
But maybe Charles wasn’t all that ordinary. Many of his new friends wanted to hear his thoughts, his jokes, his opinions. They listened to him, they really did. When he said something humorous or sobering, they liked it. Some smiled, some quipped back, some even re-said what he had said! He wasn’t so ordinary anymore.
Not only had Charles learned how to find friends and gather followers, he also learned how to play the system. He really didn’t need to listen to everything everyone else said. In reality, not much of what they said was very profitable for Charles. But the more he said, the more people listened!
Now instead of following what his ordinary friends were saying as they talked, he followed where all his other friends were in case any were nearby or at his favorite Mexican restaurant. Instead of commenting on the current events, he commented on the great pickle he had just eaten a few minutes before. Instead of reliving past memories of playing games as a kid with his ordinary friends, he tagged others in new videos and threw a goldfish at someone.
Charles met with his ordinary friends less and less frequently. It wasn’t his fault, really. They were just too ordinary. Hardly any in his circles were friends with them. Hardly anyone knew about them, much less followed them. Charles was just not that ordinary any more.
Charles’ ordinary friends really didn’t miss him when he eventually stopped showing up at birthday parties, cook outs, living room discussions and game nights. It had been a slow fade from their ordinary Charles to the “famous” Charles. They still occasionally interacted with him if they were sent a photo or attached to a note. Charles was still their friend, at least in the sense of the word he liked.