I was chatting with a dear friend yesterday, and we got onto the topic of friendships. And about quantities of Facebook friends – not our own, but others. OK, it’s a weird topic, just forget about that part.
It got me thinking, though.
Social media has done a lot of good for us – it connects us (thinking about this ESPECIALLY in times of trouble), we learn a lot about one another, we get our news from Twitter. But in certain interpersonal ways, it’s a pain in the ass. FOR EXAMPLE, I have another confession for you: I find myself sucked into the Instagram ‘like’ mentality. I should caveat this with the fact that I have basically 3 people who follow me on Instagram, and I mostly post pictures of my food, to keep myself semi-accountable as I attempt to get healthier. BUT, up until about a week ago, I used to get…oh, I don’t know, maybe 30 – 50 ‘likes’ (I also realize this is basically nothing, but stay with me) on my photos. From people who didn’t follow me. They found my pics via hashtags.
‘A STRANGER LIKED MY SPINACH.’
This felt good.
I know. I’m not proud of this.
Then, about a week ago, something went wrong on Instagram. Something changed. I don’t know what happened. Something with the algorithm, maybe? Perhaps I used too many hashtags and it flagged my account as ‘spam,’ but basically my photos stopped appearing in hashtag searches and nobody liked my pictures anymore. *DISTRESSED FACE EMOJI*
Well, I shouldn’t say that NOBODY liked them. The handful of people who took the time to double-tap on my ridiculous pictures of sweet potatoes and/or cashew-based pumpkin spice creamer were those that had followed me – my actual friends and family, for the most part. People I actually KNOW.
Think about that. I was totally dismissive of my LOVED ONES, because what I wanted were NEW LIKES and FOLLOWERS?
That’s HORRIBLE, Gina. Perspective shifting moment.
I’m actually THANKFUL this insta-thing happened, because it got me thinking about friends vs. followers in my actual life. About my interactions with people in the real world. And not just about me, about US, as a society. About the questions we ask in order to get to know someone better, or to understand their lives more. Are we being the best friends we can be to the people we cherish? Do we reach out enough, check in enough? Do we remember important things going on in their lives? Are we sensitive to how we talk about certain things that might be sticky for them? Are we being mindful of their perspective? Do our friends know that we care?
Has social media created a society in which we’re always looking to ‘push out’ to the world our thoughts, opinions, needs, life stories? Or are we really trying to back-and-forth/give-and-take connect?Is social media making us bad friends to one another? Are we really connecting? Click To Tweet
I’m definitely not a perfect friend. But that’s OK, because being aware gives me a chance to do better. Nobody expects perfection, but I’m a big fan of taking personal responsibility and working to improve. I respect that so much in others, too. I have a fantastic friend who once realized she had cancelled out on plans with me at the last moment a few times in a row, and do you know what she did? She picked up the phone and called me and said she was SO sorry and that she realized what she’d done, and that she loved me dearly and would do better. And you know what? I loved her back even more than I had before.
I challenge you to reach out to three people today that you love and care about, and let them know. Even people you haven’t talked to in a long time. Maybe you’re feeling shitty because you’ve neglected a friendship that means a lot to you. Go ahead, reach out and tell them that. As my grandma Pearl would say, “give a call sometime.” Let’s do better.