“I feel like social media has primed us all to be worse friends,” she says.
“Huh,” I say.
“You don’t agree?” she says.
“Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure I know exactly what you mean by that,” I say. “It sounds interesting.”
“I feel like everything’s been turned into a performance. Everyone’s seeing who can post the best things, who can be the wittiest. That it’s all a contest. Where’s the connection?”
“In PMs, I guess,” I say, which makes her laugh, since we’re having this conversation in private messages.
“Lockdown’s only amplified that,” she says. “We’re less friends nowadays and more followers of each other, unless you’re lucky enough to be able to form a friend pod.”
I feel my stomach drop at this. COVID hit just as I was starting to make friends locally in Texas, so I haven’t been able to form any sort of pod, outside of the partner I live with. I do talk to friends from Cleveland online and note that they’re seeing each other occasionally. They’ve formed pods, have occasional sleepovers, whatever.
Not me. I’m mostly on my own.
It makes me glad that I enjoy my own company so much. That I like spending time with my partner. And that I can live so well in my own imagination (and find comfort thinking about a future when maybe things are different, however long it’s gonna be).
Still, the news that the friends I just left are managing to hang out a bit with each other makes me happy for them but yes… admittedly sad for me. I try not to feel left out. But I do.
I find solace in the fact that the friend I’m talking to hasn’t been able to find a pod either. Because she’s lovely, really fun to talk to (which is why we talk so often). And she’s on her own, too.
“Do you feel like I’m just a follower?” I ask her as we chat.
“No,” she says. “You’re different. You’re the kind of friend who travels really well. Who transcends social media.”
“That,” I say, “is one of the loveliest things anyone’s ever said about me.” I think for a moment. “The same can be said of you.”
“I think that’s the key to getting through these times,” she says, “making sure to value people like that.”
“Well then,” I say, “I guess we’re not doing so bad, after all.”