Dear Candace, Has the Internet Ruined Friendships?
Sometimes I think the worst thing the Internet has done is made me hate all my friends. Is that normal? Is it really the Internet’s fault?
I’m assuming here that your friend base doesn’t solely consist of KKK members who think BBQ is best with two different kinds of sauce, and who also really get down to the music stylings of Limp Bizkit. I may also have just betrayed the traits I consider a bad person to have.
Anyway, I don’t think that the Internet has ruined friendships per se. I do think that the Internet has made friendships more difficult or at least more awkward. Let’s count down the ways:
- You can’t pretend to not be where you are anymore. You “staying home” but actually hanging out with someone else? Your friends will find out.
- Your friends’ opinions are now a matter of public discourse. I didn’t realize how many of my friends were bad people until the first time Obama ran for president. The same goes for my “liberal” friends who spend all day polluting my Facebook feed with their overly simplistic judgement calls. I just want more videos of sloths, goddammit.
- You know too much. How many of my friends’ boyfriends have I found on dating sites and realized that my friend is either a) in an open relationship, b) looking for a threesome or c) being cheated on? Often. Too often. The subject of what you’re supposed to do with this knowledge is the basis of another article.
- Netflix and chilling. But really Netflix and chilling. I am a busy woman but sometimes, when I tell people I’m busy…I am binge watching Bojack Horseman and eating fried chicken in bed. Real talk.
- Texting, SnapChat, WhatsApp, all that shit. I called my best friend the other night and talked to her on the phone for about an hour. I had not done that for at least 6 months. Before the Internet existed, do you know what that would have made us? Not friends.
- You gotta hide your shit. Quick, think about anything you’re filtering: a job hunt, a new boyfriend that’s someone else’s ex, pictures from your coffee date with your BFF’s mortal enemy. Whatever. There’s always someone who shouldn’t see something if you want to keep the peace.
- You have “too many” or “enough” friends. That’s bullshit. Your follower count is not your friend base and the one or two people you meet for happy hour once a month would make the plumbob of your Sims go brown. Yes, I have been replaying The Sims and no, I don’t regret anything.
- Read notifications. Turn them off. Don’t let people see when you’ve read their texts. You can’t avoid it with FB messenger and maybe SnapChat? I don’t know.
- Your friends are boring. If you see enough Pinterest boards and baby photos (JK, I love your kids?) and videos of Trump saying idiot things, you realize that people are boring. And your friends are people. And they are boring.
- That you are boring, too.
The general gist of everything I’m trying to say is that the Internet has given us too much leeway, too much illusory democracy, into putting our lives out there. Friendship used to be about loyalty, kept secrets, one-on-one time and support. All of those things still exist (I hope) but it’s now also about who likes your posts and who doesn’t pull you into 50 alerts in one afternoon group chats and who RSVPd to your cat’s birthday e-invite.
Is that better or worse? I don’t know and I can’t tell you. But I can say that I’d like to be better friends with the people I know in a way that doesn’t involve them walking next to me on the street trying to fling bi-colored balls at a digital Japanese monster while I’m trying to tell a story.
“Dear Candace” is a weekly advice column about people: meeting people, talking to people, dating people, working with people, pretending to be people, etc. If you have a people problem you’d like Candace to help you solve, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Broke-Ass Stuart’s tumblr to “ask me anything”. Disclaimer: Candace is mostly just a know-it-all.