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You know that nightmare where you host a party and no one turns up?
Well, I’m pretty sure that nightmare started with a Facebook event invite. And before you feel sorry for me, don’t. I was being an asshole.
It was two years ago, and it was my birthday soon, and I’d been feeling pretty crap recently, worried about the future and uncertain what I wanted to do with my life. I thought it might be nice to have a celebration, surrounded by my nearest and dearest, to reassure myself that I am loved and valued and important.
So, I created an event on Facebook, because what better way to let my nearest and dearest know I was in need of their love and nurturing than the unequivocally personal Facebook? So, I carefully selected a list of around 50 of my closest friends (HA) and I asked them to attend my birthday.
I received five RSVPs saying yes, and then nothing, radio silence. No more responses. So, a week before the event, I changed my plan.
Deciding it would be a bit embarrassing to hire an area of a bar for six of us to drink in, I thought I would plan something a little more casual: lunch, pizza to be exact, in central London, where almost all of my friends live. And I even sent out a polite little note to all invitees (via Facebook, because consider that lesson well and truly not yet learnt) asking them to please let me know if they could make it.
But did they?
Did they, fuck.
So, question time: did my friends hate me? Or was I just being an asshole, depending on social media to do my socialising for me?
I suspect it’s the second one, because here’s the rotten truth, my friends: I do it to all of you as well.
I look at an event invitation for the birthday event of a good friend, being held in central London and I roll my eyes, because London is far, and I am lazy.
I am not excited, I do not acknowledge and recognise the privilege of being special enough to this individual that they would want me there to celebrate with them. I sigh, and immediately begin thinking of good enough excuses to get me out of it without sounding like a complete and total dickhead.
So, there it is. We’re all useless, selfish dickheads. Perhaps it’s time we stopped relying on social media to plan our real life interactions? I wonder how many people would have attended that party if I had hand posted them an invitation? My guess is more than five. Or if I had called to personally tell them how much it would mean to me if they were there? Again: Probably more than five.
But did I?
Did I fuck.
It was an interesting, if slightly embarrassing lesson to learn, and not one I will be repeating in a hurry, but it did demonstrate something to me about those five people (I lie, it was two people) who showed up…
I so regularly hear people use the platitude, ‘It doesn’t matter how much time goes past, when we see each other or talk, it’s exactly the same as it always was!’ or something resembling that horrific sentiment.
Is this the sort of friendship we really want? One you can put on ice because it’s mildly inconvenient to have to commit regular time and effort to another human being, whom you love, and which you can then defrost on a whim when you realise going to the cinema alone is a bit depressing… No thanks!
The people I want in my life are the ones who know me, and whom I know. I want to talk to them about their lunch, and ask them how they feel each day. I want to send them flowers when they’re sad, and meet up for drinks when we’ve had a hard day. I want them to pop over to watch American Horror Story, because it’s a betrayal to watch it apart. I want friends that are friends. I want friends that are THERE.
And more importantly, I want to be that sort of friend to others.
No man is an island, and a love heart cat emoji is a really crappy alternative to a hug.
“Social media is to socializing what masturbating is to sex.”
—Oliver Markus Malloy, Inside The Mind of an Introvert