Before you judge me, a bad friend isn’t something I’m trying to be. That would mean I don’t want to hang out with my friends, when the truth is, I really, really do.
Sadly, the amount of time I spend in social situations is something I have to control.
It’s one of the main drawbacks of being an introvert, you see: the need to be alone in order to recharge. For me, a single social occasion is followed by at least a few, non-negotiable days of “me time” at home.
Otherwise overwhelming feelings begin to surface and I’m left downright exhausted.
It doesn’t help that most of my friends are social butterflies who would call me a grandma or say I was boring if I said I couldn’t be bothered going out.
Although not entirely inaccurate accusations, I knew I could do better. Not as a friend, but as a maker-of-believable-excuses. Frankly, “I can’t be bothered”, lacked creativity. And if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s creativity, darn it!
So I started mixing things up. The upshot of course was that I started telling fibs. So, for example, I’d say I was out for dinner or at the movies, when in reality, I’d not set foot outside my snack-filled haven (bedroom).
These tiny, weeny white lies allowed me the time I needed to restore myself, ready for my next big night out, so technically – TECHNICALLY – I was doing it to ensure the smooth functioning of our social circle. I was lying for the greater good.
Listen: Liz Gilbert’s four questions for trust. (Post continues after audio.)
Oh so simple, yet oh so effective. Call me a terrible friend all you want, but I did what I needed to do. It was self care, all the way.
But then, Snapchat did a thing.
They introduced a feature that tracks all your friends’ current locations. If you simply use an inward motion to swipe the screen with two fingers, a map of the entire flippin’ world pops up onto your screen. Here you can pinpoint exactly where everyone you know is, right down to the house number. Yes, really.
Of course turning off your location on Snapchat is an option if you’d rather remain private, but then would it look like I had something to hide? Would it make my friends question me even more?
Social media is complicated, to say the least, but its expansive power is inevitably inescapable.
Enough of the lies, I decided. It was time to face reality and so I kept the feature.
Staying cooped up inside my house wasn't maintainable in the long-term - especially if I wanted more snacks. Snapchat gave me the final push I needed to get out there and live my life.
Every time I felt the urge to pull out of plans by lying about my whereabouts, I went through with plans instead. At first, rather begrudgingly. But now, I’ve never felt closer to my friends, both in friendship and literal proximity.
Friendship is a lot of things, including showing up. If anything, this Snapchat feature has done something good for the suffocating digital space that’s engulfing our lives. You can be there for someone via text, or over the phone, but the most meaningful way to be a friend is to be by his or her side.
Sure, the feature is seen as an invasion of privacy by some, but it also makes a world that is becoming more and more isolating less lonely. Now when I enter the app, my Snapchat Bitmoji isn’t stood alone on a map at my house with no one in close reach, but it’s surrounded by others – friends, who support me as I do them.
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