Meditating On the Different Sorts of Friendship

It’s a truth widely acknowledged, that social media friendships are shallow and meaningless.

This truth is illustrated by the person who is friendly to you online, but never in the actual world. The person who repeatedly “likes” your status updates, who comments on your posts, and seems to allow you a latitude to be witty online that is not permitted when she actually sees you for real. The person who makes you wonder what goes wrong when you happen to see each other at school pick-up, or at a soccer game, or whatever. I mean, if she enjoys what you say online, why wouldn’t she want to talk to you in person? But evidently she doesn’t. That is, if you interpret the fact that every time you sit down next to her, she gets up and moves away, as a sign that she doesn’t want to talk to you. And I do.

I myself am not capable of this sort of double-dealing. Either I like a person or I don’t, whether it’s in person or online. I think I’ve mentioned before that I sometimes wonder whether I’m unsubscribed from more people than I’m subscribed to (oh, look at that awful preposition at the end of a sentence. But I can’t seem to frame this sentence in any other way without it sounding even weirder and more clunky than it already does.). This is because I find them intolerably boring online (Do you ever post an original thought? Have you ever posted anything that’s not a meme created by someone else, and oh, by the way, the ones you post really aren’t really that amusing?) but I don’t have the courage to unfriend them because what if I see this person at the school concert? What if I see that person at a party? What if I am way too anxious and invested in the interaction between social media and actual social life? And how closely are the two melded together?

I don’t know, I’m starting to view That Certain Social Media site as the online context for those of us who aren’t digital natives, who remember how counter-intuitive desktop technology used to be, who remember rotary dial phones and the first time we heard about call-waiting (sixth grade) and the first fax we ever saw (sophomore year of college). For our generation, perhaps we’re not comfortable navigating two worlds of friendship, the online world and the real one. Social media isn’t as casual for us as it is for our daughters who hold snapchat conversations with six friends at a time and our sons who are constantly shouting into their headsets when they play video games online with school friends. We worry if another mom on the PTA will be mad at us for unfriending her on social media.

Or, maybe I’m just an over-anxious, socially awkward mess of a person. That could be true, as well.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

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