True Things My Mama Told Me: “They ain’t ya friends” on Social Media

images (6).jpgRemember in elementary school when your parents asked you who was your best friend and you rattled off a long list of names? Remember when you friends had so many birthday parties that you often had to select one or two because you couldn’t make it to them all? If you were like me, your mother probably told you that there was no way that you could have that many best friends which confused you because of course you can. Now return to the present and look around you. It’s probably not as easy to conjure up a ridiculously long list of your “best friends”.

At first this revelation depressed me. It didn’t help that I had Facebook and Instagram accounts that constantly reminded me of how exciting everyone else’s life was while I was suffering with depression. The majority of my ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ were not my close friends or even close acquaintances. Yet, I prided myself on not just allowing anyone to be my friend in a world of cyber stalkers and murderers. I mean at least I knew all of these people from school and/or work. Their self-absorbed photos and statuses about their boyfriend, trips to the grocery store, and spring break and Florida annoyed the hell out of me.

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But I sucked it up because we were ‘friends’ and friends don’t publically call one another out for their BS, right? That was until a former real-life best friend posted an incredibly insensitive cartoon about a victim of police brutality. In the past she made questionable remarks about people but I thought that it was mainly because we were young and she was merely echoing her mother and stepfather’s racism. After politely confronting her about my feelings, it turned into an argument instead of a healthy dialogue which I thought old friends were capable of. I realized that we were no longer at the point where a call (at the least a text) could smooth things over. To be honest, I don’t even think I had her number anymore because we had grown apart and to me our friendship wasn’t worth saving.

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To avoid further conflict, I deleted her from my friend list. I might have even blocked her. I don’t remember since I deactivated my account several days later. Removing her made me scroll through my list of ‘friends’ which were mainly from high school (I graduated in May 2011) and my first two years of undergrad. It was so odd to see how many people I had either forgotten or couldn’t remember. I didn’t know these people any more than they knew me and so I went on a deleting spree until I came to the realization that the people with whom I am closest to speak with me on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, when I travel overseas Facebook is a great way to keep in contact with my friends and family but when I am within phoning distance, I have no reason to have a Facebook.  I have no desire to get a play-by-play account of someone’s life when I could be living my own.

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The people that are supposed to be there will be there when you need them. Yesterday, one of my old friends contacted me to see how I was doing. In such a short amount of time, things had changed in both of our lives. Yet, that has always been the nature of our relationship. We talk every few months and catch up like no time has passed at all. The point is: your real friends call you and you call them. If they are only reachable through photo likes and comments then either you were never friends or your friendship is in danger. If you are fighting (no matter how insignificant) over social media, check into the status of your relationship. Life is complicated enough as it is. Why waste time cultivating ‘friendships’ based on cryptic texts and offensive photos when you can work on your friendship in the ‘real world’?

In the age of social media, I choose to dedicate my time and energy to the people outside of the cyberland who mean the most to me. It may not be a long Santa-style list of people but they’re my people and they deserve it because they are my friends.

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