After friend breakups, social media restored my faith in forming adult friendships
It hit me hard when I first started losing friends post-college. I was so heartbroken and didn't quite understand what had happened (still don't, tbh). I went from talking to my friends every day and meeting up for monthly brunches to complete silence. Even when I opted to extend the olive branch so we could reconnect after losing touch, I was met with reluctance or plans that didn't materialize. After a two-year battle spent trying to reunite with my gal pals, I threw in the towel. I still loved them as much as I did when we were thick as thieves, but the person that I'm growing into couldn't bring seemingly toxic friendships into my next chapter.
After questioning whether I was the problem in these broken friendships, I pretty much decided to let go and let God. It was the best decision for me. I often vented to my older sister, nine years my senior, about the progression of friendships through our 20s and 30s. She explained to me that she'd gone through similar friendship breakups with people she'd assumed were with her for the long haul. However, she also went on to express that accepting this "loss" opened the doors for new bonds to form as she evolved. This gave me hope.
I've had many in-depth conversations about breakups with "significant others," but not many about breaking up with friends and even family members. But these people are just as significant. I accepted our fate, but I felt so alone. It was probably more heartbreaking than any breakup I've had with a boyfriend. Little things—venting or sharing funny memes—were reminders that my friends were no longer there. Because of this sad reality, I started running to social media to share my thoughts, favorite memes, and everything thing else I'd normally drop into the now nonexistent group chat.
“I’ve had many in-depth conversations about breakups with ‘significant others,’ but not many about breaking up with friends and even family members. But these people are just as significant.”
Social media gets such a bad rep, but if you use it correctly, it can get you places.
I already used it rather frequently (literally every day for 2-4 hours depending on the day). Initially, I was using social media as a tool to keep up with beauty, fashion, and pop culture trends. After all, I am a writer who has to stay in the know , so it comes with the territory. I used social media to keep up with events, to network with other people in my industry, and to share the content that I create. But I never imagined in a million years that social media would restore my faith in friendships.
When I was lonely, drowning in my sorrows and turning to the internet for entertainment, I began to really connect with people. (Social media has come a long way from creepy Yahoo group chats and people trying to scam money from your bank account—although that can definitely still happen). These mutual online friendships were about more than liking each other's photos—we enjoyed a lot of the same things, were frustrated by the same injustices, and admired the same public figures. The only thing missing from these online relationships was face-to-face interaction, but that was nothing a quick DM couldn't fix. Before I knew it, I was meeting my internet friends for lunch, heading to workshops and panels together, and even celebrating birthdays with them in real life.
“Social media gets such a bad rep but if you use it correctly, it can get you places.”
It's still funny when I'm hanging out with a friend I met on Instagram or Twitter and someone asks how we met. We'll usually look at one another and respond in unison, "on the 'gram." Nowadays, no one is really thrown off by it; they honestly think it's cool that people can foster meaningful friendships at their fingertips. Connecting with likeminded individuals can be that simple. Honestly, it happens more often than not—people have been online dating for decades. It was only a matter of time before making friends online would follow up.
Let me be clear–everyone you follow on social media is not meant to follow you in real life. Just like how not all of your coworkers or classmates will make the cut as far as friendships go, even if they share your interests. The same applies online. There will be some people that you love to follow for their content, but your gut instincts tell you to steer clear from them IRL, and that's perfectly okay. Don't go forming social media friendships just because a person stans Beyoncé as hard as you do or because they comment on all of your posts. Don't let the internet cloud your judgment and convince you to force vibes that aren't really there. But when connections are genuine, social media is a great way to form new bonds and t0 maintain the relationships that you already have.
“As women in our early-mid 20s, we’re constantly evolving. Unfortunately, growing out of friendships is a major part of that evolution.”
Looking back, I think one of the reasons my college friendships failed is because some people require more check-ins and validation in a relationship, which is perfectly okay. But as women in our early-mid 20s, we're constantly evolving. Unfortunately, growing out of friendships is a major part of that evolution.
Social media makes people feel more connected, hence the word social. Whether you're keeping up with your favorite influencers or your distant cousin, social media lessens the strain that proximity puts on most relationships. So whether you're forming new bonds or strengthening old ones, don't underestimate the power of social media. While social media wasn't able to save my college friend circle, I'm happy that it helped me build a new one.