There is some backstory behind how and why GBiTD is about to come into being, though. The main inciting event happened almost a year ago, on 27 November 2017. In the days leading up to this particular event, I had been thinking more than usual about my ongoing failure to keep in touch with people I genuinely do care about, with one specific friend at the forefront of my rumination.
I asked myself questions such as Why am I like this? (oh, I don't know...mental illnesses, cognitive chaos, self-doubt, imagined awkwardness that grows exponentially larger the longer I go without reaching out)
and Could I somehow perform a decent impression of someone who isn't like this? (doubtful)
and Am I just not capable of being a decent friend?
By the 27th, the constant cycling of these thoughts had condensed and organized them to the point that, when I sat down to create the daily comic, they spilled onto the page and from there passed almost unchanged to the final version:
So I posted the comic to CrustaceanSingles.com, shared it on the various official CrustaceanSingles social media accounts, and then, feeling emboldened and just a little impulsive, I sent the comic (along with a short note) to the friend I had been wanting to reach out to.
And then I went on with my day.
It wasn't until the next morning that I noticed something unusual happening: on the CrustaceanSingles facebeast page, the getting-back-in-touch comic was reaching an audience many orders of magnitude larger than anything I'd ever posted before. People from all over the world were sharing the post or tagging others in the comments, many of them adding their own thoughts to its theme. Even better, hundreds of these comments and shares were succeeding: I watched hundreds of small reunions unfolding in real time, each with its expressions of caring and understanding and general wholesomeness.
The post began to spread on Twitter, too, and then third parties were sharing it on imgur and reddit, all with the same results: a whole lot of people were feeling the same way and using the comic to reach out to friends and loved ones they'd been wanting to get back in touch with.
It was moving to witness these exchanges between so many total strangers. I couldn't seem to tear myself away from the ever-growing number of interactions. I ended up writing a separate post about it:
Something wonderful has happened, and I want to share it with you.
Yesterday's CrustaceanSingles was, let's be honest, pretty firmly in the 'heartfelt downer' category that I try to only occasionally indulge in. But then (by means still totally mysterious to me), the right people at the right time shared the post and it kind of exploded. As I write this, it's approaching 1,800 shares and 110,000 "impressions" (whatever that means). And yes, this is drastically more exposure than my comics usually get, but hold on, because that’s not what this post is about.
The really great part is that I've been able to read what hundreds of strangers are writing when they share the post, and what their friends and loved ones are saying in reply.
I'm paraphrasing this into one big composite, like a sort of crowd-sourced message of love, care, and compassion:
I know what it's like to struggle to keep in touch with people I care about. I understand, and I'm telling you it's OK if weeks or months (or even years!) have passed since we last spoke. I still care about you and your struggles, and I want to hear from you sometime. But only if and when you're up to it. And I don't ever need any excuses or explanations. But I will also listen and support you if you need to unload, too. And I'm grateful for the kind of friendship that we can pick up where it left off whenever life lets us, even if it's just for a moment here and there. I care about you a lot, and I'm not the only one.
In the days and weeks that followed, the post continued to spread.
[ Here follows a small sidetrack:
A lot of this sudden new audience (far more than I dared hope) stuck around, going through older posts and liking and following the CrustaceanSingles accounts on the various platforms. By early December 2017, the CrustaceanSingles facebeast page had gone from under 200 'likes' to nearly 8000, to give you an idea.
Which...ever since I started the daily posting schedule in mid-2011, I had worked hard to "purify" my motivations, to make the goals of popularity and admiration secondary or tertiary. I knew I had to do that, because otherwise I'd risk getting too bummed out about toiling in obscurity. So I prioritized consistency (daily output no matter what), then gradual growth (including willingness to take risks and try out different methods), and I tried to never count the literal dozens of fans for the sake of tracking their numbers to gratify my feral ego.
So anyway, the rapid and un-ignorable growth of my audience was tremendously exciting, but I also regarded it as a sort of moral test. Could I appreciate the good fortune without depending on it or basing my self-concept on it? Could I continue to prioritize consistency and incremental improvement without succumbing to terminal head-inflation or going to pieces with the perceived pressure of amusing tens (and occasionally hundreds) of thousands of people every day?
I think I've handled it pretty well. It's probably a good thing that the torrent of new readers slowed down to a steady but leisurely flow by the start of 2018. But I also wouldn't complain if anyone reading this felt like spreading the glad tidings of CrustaceanSingles to a couple thousand friends/loved ones/vague acquaintances. I think I could handle the peril.
/end sidetrack ]
Back to the point I originally intended to make in this post: Getting Back in Touch Day, 27 November. It's a thing, or it could be if enough people participated.
At its simplest, the holiday is just an arbitrary day on which you could decide to reach out to someone you've been meaning to get back in touch with but (for whatever reason) keep putting off. Being able to call that arbitrary day by the name "Getting Back in Touch Day" might be enough to overcome the awkwardness, anxiety, hesitation, etc. that so often grow as the silence lengthens.
If that's not enough to break the inertia, how about deliberately drawing attention to the fact of the awkwardness (& anxiety, &c.)? I happen to know of a moderately popular comic panel that does just that, which you could use in your attempt to reestablish contact. You could include it with a short message of your own, perhaps something to the effect of, "This made me think of you."
Anyone is free to share the basic image itself or the text thereof* (the latter being particularly helpful if the person you're reaching out to uses a screen reader or a similar assistive technology); I only ask that you retain attribution in the form of the source (CrustaceanSingles.com) (and ideally, an active link to the platform where you found it, e.g. the facebeast page/instagram account/twitter account).
But for those of you who are looking for something a little more premium, I have more options:
- Patrons in the Brain Owner tier will begin (as of today) receiving access to a wide variety of very high-resolution, printable greeting cards to be used for GBiTD purposes. Today's installment: several versions of the comic that started it all, but with a completely redrawn image and reformatted text in a much-improved custom typeface of my handwriting.
- Patrons in the Octopus Hat tier will be receiving access to a smaller, but still quite respectable, number of high-res, printable greeting cards to use in celebrating GBiTD.
- On or shortly before the 27th, I'll be making a single version of the above-described card available to all patrons in a printable or digitally-shareable format.
But that's not all! I'm potentially available to make commissioned pieces with unique, custom artwork and text in any of my handwriting fonts. If you have a custom message in mind, let me know and we can discuss making it a reality.
However you choose to go about it, I hope you'll consider celebrating Getting Back in Touch Day this year.
[Edit on 27.11.18] I have now made and posted a revised version of the original comic, one that I think improves on it significantly. / Also: a publicly shareable, freely downloadable/printable version of that revision in this public post.
* Basic text of the comic:
I want to get back in touch with you, but I feel like I'd have to start by apologizing for being so bad at keeping in touch and reassuring you that your friendship really is important to me, but I'm always paralyzed by the dread that this apology will inevitably devolve into a lengthy explanation of why I've been incommunicado for so long, which would make the whole thing all about me and my problems and would make me feel like an even worse friend, this sudden reaching out only to suddenly unload a crushing amount of personal baggage on you, without warning or context— But so anyway...hey. How's it going?
...and the same text but with structural line breaks, if you prefer it that way:
I want to get back in touch with you,
but I feel like I’d have to start by apologizing
for being so bad at keeping in touch
and reassuring you that your friendship
really is important to me,
but I’m always paralyzed by the dread
that this apology will inevitably devolve
into a lengthy explanation of why
I’ve been incommunicado for so long,
which would make the whole thing
all about me and my problems
and would make me feel like
an even worse friend,
this sudden reaching out
only to suddenly unload
a crushing amount of
personal baggage on you,
without warning or context —
But so anyway...hey. How’s it going?