I scroll through my Instagram feed, and then I tap on that little search icon and flip through my list of “Searches” that I stalk on a weekly (daily) basis. Today’s different though. I begin going through my usual round of six (twelve) people, but once I land on “Friend 3’s” feed, I’m blown away by her (I tried to remain gender neutral, but you will soon see that this would be nearly impossible) most recent post. It is a picture of a famous lady icon flipping the bird at the audience, with a caption that reads something to the effect that someone sent her a direct message and mom shamed her, but she doesn’t give a flying fuck. My heart begins to race. I don’t know what I’m feeling, but I immediately hit Follow (something I’ve never done despite having stalked this person for years now, but that’s a story for another time), scroll through all her mom pics and like them all, within reason (posts from the last month or two).
I don’t know what overcame me. For years I’ve harbored so much resentment toward this person for no real reason other than I did not like her in grade school. How petty. I always kept tabs on her, though, since she is of a certain ilk that I find to be terribly entertaining, but that’s neither here nor there. With everything that’s going on in the world, people, strangers take time out of their day to mom shame someone who has been struggling to conceive? I mean, this is just pathetic. I mean, at its best, this is pathetic behavior. At its worst, the behavior is psychotic. In general, the behavior is rampant.
Of course, I am not popular or significant enough on social media (or elsewhere) to have amassed any sort of attention much less that of the trolls, but I am capable of imagining what it must be like to be both a troll and a thing. Because the bottom line is that online, we’re all reduced to things, an it, not a person. That’s what all those pictures of you are; they’re not you; they’re pictures of you. And yet, we continue to put images of ourselves out there to be judged, to be deemed likeable, by a bunch of strangers who have little to no context of our lives (and lies), and who, quite honestly, could not give a flying fuck about us, good or bad. And then we demand sympathy (complain) for (about) the judgment.
It may seem as though the world revolves around influencers and those with the most followers and/or that little blue check, but the reality is that social media is truly an alternative reality, a new dimension. Everyone who uses social media subscribes to this idea that—in this social landscape—the winners are the ones who have the most liked images. And that follows equal how much the followers like the followed. (Of course, please exclude celebrities AFK who also use social media to provide access into their “private lives.” I’m speaking to normies who are “influencers,” whose sole existence lives and dies by the platforms on which they exist.) It is—within these powers that be—where alternative reality bursts forth. Much has already been written on the faux lives of these influencers, and honestly, I do not want to talk about them. They’re boring. What I want to talk about, instead, is us, casual users of social media platforms for the true goal of socializing.
For the past two months, I’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to a dozen or so (four or five) people I truly love and want to be around. A sort of social spring cleaning. I’ve been an avid non-user (unpredictable, unreliable user) of social media (as we know it) for all of social media’s history (I was a freshman in college the year that Facebook went live for college students). I quit Facebook altogether back in 2013, but I’ve always had a thing for Instagram. What I’ve learned is that IG can be gamed quite easily. I’m in the middle of a little experiment, and it’s going quite well. I’m surprised by how much more fun it is, too, to “play Instagram.” I’m also in the middle of a different kind of exploration. My hunch (and a million other people’s) is that people (Millennials) are longing for connection. My vote is, “Yes!” I know that I am, and from the responses I’ve been getting from the friends I’ve worked to reconnect with, I think that I am not alone in this longing.
So, what are we to do? Well, I would hardly consider myself an expert at finding friends, nor am I any sort of expert at all, but I know that people will listen to me and take my advice if I share it confidently and people like me (good luck). For me, I know that I cannot be friends with people who do not understand my innate need to tell the truth. I am also incapable of being friends with those who are unwilling to do the same. Thus, I’m a bit prickly; I’m a lot. Being largely introverted, I prefer to be alone (always or with my lifemate), which is not necessarily the right environment for a lively friendship. I do, however, very much enjoy the company of intelligent (beautiful) people. So, I sat down and thought about the most intelligent (beautiful) friends of mine, and decided who I wanted to now be friends with as an adult. I unfollowed everyone I did not care to speak to or care to hang out with or who I thought I could not count on in a time of need. I even went so far as to boot friends who were following me, but that I preferred wouldn’t. It felt good. That, what’s it called, “Social Purge”? I’m not sure. I think I saw it on IG at some point last week.
Anyway, I am shocked (pleasantly surprised) every single time a friend is so happy to hear from me in a personal way. It takes a lot of guts, though. Well, maybe not for you, but for me, reaching out to people you haven’t seen in a long time really is tough. I don’t know if they want to hear from me. We were friends in college, but we haven’t seen each other in forever. We were childhood friends, and then not really friends after high school, etc., etc., &c. The fear that drives is the fear that hides. I don’t know. I just made that up. But I’d encourage you, if you’re feeling lonely (we all have and do), to just take a chance, reach out and say, “Hey, I like you.” That way, when a person sends a note that says that, you can know that they see YOU, and they like YOU, not just the IMAGES of you that don’t really matter and that are all contrived and represent an alternative reality anyway. And to the trolls, never mind, you’re not worth my time.
I don’t know about you, but I’m officially on a #FriendshipHunt. As adults, finding connection with fellow adults becomes harder and harder because having a family can be so difficult and demanding. Not to mention those jobs. But perhaps, we can just start with simple, personal messages of love and real liking. Tell someone you like them today. I dare you to. You’ll be amazed at how good it ultimately makes you feel. So, if for no other reason, make someone’s day in order to make yourself feel good. What’s the harm?