Some False Starts
The Friend-to-Op Pipeline in a Few Paragraphs (or an Ode to Janet Malcolm)
Hi, last week I was sick with the cooties and so I took some time off. Thank you to my loyal readers, and hello to all the new Tiny Violences subscribers! I’m in the throes of thesis writing and some cool freelance gigs, so my mind is a wee bit taxed. When this is all over, I’m going to sleep for a week and eat my mother’s cooking to recharge – because I think my brain is actually bigger now (it’s just VERY tired). The response to the lurking missive was positive, and I’m happy it resonated. Social Media is That Bitch, and I’m 100% here for examining her. I have some more ideas coming down the pipeline, and once I’m freed of this particular brand of writing-related anxiety, I will get back to it.
Today, though, I’m writing about social media and how it transformed one friendship for the worse. Spoiler: we ain’t friends no more. Spoiler: it’s ok! I’ve made peace with it. I plan on writing and podcasting about navigating IRL friendships, para-social friendships, and their messiness online in the future.
For now, I’m just trying to figure out where to start. It’s likely way too soon for me to write about this situation with the distance require for the clarity I desire on the subject, but I tried. In fact, I tried to start writing about this SEVERAL times. Below are my attempts.
I keep losing friends. The words echo around in my head in the days before I decide to write about the end of a friendship. It was a slow burn, but mostly it was me not wanting to confront my willingness to keep someone around who was at once a small figure in my life and a person who delighted in my dimming my light. Perhaps it was meant to end this way.
There’s no need to tell my side of the story. The folks who believe whatever gossip she ran and told are shrinking in importance in my life anyways. Maybe then, they were never friends to lose. Maybe then I‘m not thinking of the friends who became worse than not friends, those who have become ops; they should not be mixed up with those who have been lost. Loss would imply grief and I’m not sad that they’re gone.
Social media has this way of revealing things about yourself, through how you might witness a person’s online performance. For instance, I might not have confronted the grief of a career that never happened if not for an online persona capitalizing off of hers. It might have taken me much longer to learn that the fantasy I had about a particular line of work is just that when casually scrolling through the pages of contoured faces who celebrate their homogenous styles, social pursuits and self-care memes. I’ll just say it: I’m not mean or corny enough for some lines of work. But in the way I see things about myself through how people portray their lives online offered me a glimpse into the thinking behind how a so-called friend can become envious of the social media exaggerations I’ve performed for likes.
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