How to decode your complicated friendships based on social media

These days, the line between “friends” and “followers” is getting thinner and thinner. We can stay in touch with people we knew in middle school by adding them on Facebook, seeing where they go to college, who they date, and how their family’s doing just by scrolling through our newsfeed. Sometimes, it feels like we have two kinds of friends: IRL besties and Internet besties.

For celebrities, who have hundreds of thousands of Internet friends, it must be weird to navigate that line between “friend” and “follower.” While they need to cater to their fans by posting updates about their career, celebs are also expected to show support for each other online – we’ve seen the kind of pushback they get when they don’t go out of their way to support each other on social media (cough Iggy Azalea cough Taylor Swift). If a friendship isn’t immortalized on the Internet, does it still count?

The answer is a resounding yes. Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato are a great example of this: The two Disney child stars turned grown-up pop stars have been open about their IRL friendship for years. Selena even mentioned in an interview with Seventeen in 2014 that she and Demi met when they were seven years old, which makes their friendship old enough to be a sophomore in high school. True, the pair has had their ups and downs (just like any other pair of besties), but Selena stressed that hardship has only strengthened their bond.

Fans recently noticed that Demi followed Selena on Instagram. Since they’ve been friends for so long, it seems a little out of the ordinary that they’re only connecting on the photo-sharing app now, sure. But it’s important to remember that IRL friendship can be separate from Internet friendship. Demi and Selena (any besties, in fact) might have the most awesome, fulfilling, special friendship ever, but not even follow each other on Twitter.

While it’s fun to check out celebrities’ lives on the Internet and make assumptions about who they hang out with or what they like to eat (like, that time Harry Styles liked an Instagram post about Chipotle and it was ridiculously fun to guess what his burrito bowl order contains), we have to remember that there are real people behind social media accounts. Those people are only giving us glimpses into their days, not the whole picture.

So, yes, it’s cool to be excited that Demi followed Selena on Instagram, but don’t forget that #Delena has been a thing for years, outside of the Internet. And that’s something to really “like.”

(Image via here.)

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