Social media helps us start and sustain friendships, but prevents us from suspending them
In the world of Facebook and Instagram, everyone is your “friend”: from your 3 AM BFF to the girl you shared the midnight metro coach with. You haven’t spoken to your best buddy from kindergarten in over two decades and would’ve failed to recognize her had you run into her in the real world; but thanks to Facebook, you can’t escape the (sad) fact that she absolutely loved Bang Bang and is midway through Paulo Coelho’s Adultery (sigh). Meanwhile, the Casanova you briefly dated posts a new picture of his twin daughters every week, while the nerd who ran home every weekend is on a frenzy of “check-ins” across the globe.
As Mary Mann declares in today’s Your Daily Read:
We all have those people who’ve disappeared from our in-person lives but still haunt our virtual ones. We watch these ex-friends live their lives on a screen, wondering how real this photographed happiness is, whether they’ve changed or remained the same, whether things would work out better if you’d met today.
Friendships change, most often peter out, but even after contact – and feeling – has ended in the real world, it continues to invade us in the virtual world. The constant updates from people you barely know can be annoying, and when your ex-BFF chooses to wish you HBD on FB, it can break your heart. But social media also gives us the chance to reconnect, to renew, and sometimes to repair.
So does the joy of finding the friend who you traded high school secrets with offset the pain of declining Candy Crush Saga invites from the
balding guy who was once the school dude? As Mann muses about Anne, a sometime-friend who she now “sees” only on Instagram, she appears to think so.
Our friendship wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either, and though I’m wary of going back to constant contact, it also doesn’t make sense to do this: watch her life and talk about it with other people but not acknowledge her. Maybe there is a boon to post-friendship social media, better than a world in which we simply refuse to cross the street—the amorphous “we’re not friends right now and I don’t know if we will be but that doesn’t mean I’m pissed at you or that you’re a bad person” that a simple click on the heart icon might convey.
Read the complete article here
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