Sunday, 25 January 2015

Friends Who Text…But Not Much Else

We all have those flaky friends. You know the type: the ones that never follow through on plans, emphasising how busy they are.

Sure, we can all be flaky at times, when life just sometimes gets the better of us. But if someone’s flaking on you a lot, over a prolonged period of time, it’s time to decide if you still need that person in your life or not. I mean, it’s not really much of a friendship anyway, is it?

What’s maddening is that it’s these same people that will post, text and tweet all day… yet struggle to find the time to hang out (but believe me, when it comes to finding the time to run around the country to meet up with boys, suddenly they have all the time in the world. More on that later).

Now, if folks wanna live their life like that, that’s their business not mine. But it becomes my business when they become intent on maintaining this digital friendship by stalking me out on social media sites, or by pestering me all day on instant messaging apps.

I get it, if distance is an issue this is a great way to keep in touch. But if one party is constantly suggesting plans to meet up, and is willing to put the effort in to put these plans into fruition, yet you aren’t interested, then why continue to initiate contact and show an interest in their life?

A relatable Yahoo! Answers entry 

It’s odd, because I wrote an article about types of men who like to "e-maintain" you. It can be frustrating when friends that you have known for years start to behave the same way.

The extent that I get stalked online by people seriously, I don’t know if I should be annoyed or flattered. It’s funny because my social media activity will always spark conversation or comments from people, filling me in on their various goings-on (before I've even had a chance to ask), almost as if people feel a need to validate themselves to me.

Trust me, I’m really not that interesting a person. Nor is my life that great that they need to compare. If they did take the time to have some kind of relationship with me which had any depth to it, they would realise that for example, I struggle with depression, that I constantly deal with setbacks just like everyone else, not to mention I have a dysfunctional family which has left me a bit of a recluse these days.

That’s my life. It’s certainly nothing to be envious of. Which is why I could probably use some genuine friendships right now. It’s also why perhaps I now have little patience with false friendships, which can be heart-breaking in their own way. But again, if they are that interested in my digital life, why the lack of real effort in real life?

Just recently, I had to tell a girl to stop messaging me as I don’t have time for pointless conversations. Harsh, but over the past EIGHT months I have tried to arrange a girly hangout. She has constantly fobbed me off. Assuming this friend was busy with what sounded like an intense job, plus regular trips abroad with family, I didn’t take it too personally….that is until she divulged her recent antics, which included travelling to a city right by me to meet up with some guy she barely knows.

Surprise surprise, the guy has now done the "fade" on her. Maybe if she dropped everything for her friends the way she does for guys, instead of making players like that a priority, she would have more relationships with depth, both romantic and platonic.

Friends by Jerry Weiss {{CC-BY-3.0}}
Now, I don’t really know what’s going on in this girl’s head or why she would message to the point of excessive, when she clearly has no interest in the friendship, but I know a lot of people have to deal with "overtexters".

Since I haven’t been taking mind reading lessons lately, here’s me trying to figure out what’s going on here:

1) Perhaps people like this are lonely in their own way, and if their phones aren’t going off constantly, it makes them feel disconnected.

2) If you’re a good listener, or good at giving at advice and have a sympathetic ear, it can draw people to constantly want to talk to you.

3) There could also be an element of insecurity: if you don’t respond to their incessant messages, or don’t try to stay in touch all the time, it makes them worry that you’re mad at them.

4) The final (and most likely) reason is that people are just that addicted to technology these days - their fingers feel naked if they’re not on their phone constantly, and they assume you’re tech-obsessed too.

Is there really a need to talk daily about pointless rubbish, though? I personally do not need to have them boring "hey, how ya doing, what you up to?" conversations on a daily basis, and I certainly do not need a minute-by-minute account of your day. I’m not your boyfriend, and I grew out of excessive instant messaging conversations a long time ago (I can’t even remember the last time I used MSN). It's only out of extreme boredom that I will engage in these empty, shallow conversations.

I could tolerate it if there was at least some effort for consistent, face to face interaction. But the lack of effort renders these conversations a pointless waste of time. I must be in the minority in finding these kinds of relationships completely superficial and unfulfilling, judging by the shock and lack of understanding when I call people out on this behaviour, telling them to stop bothering me if this is all they can contribute to my life.

So, how to deal with it?

1) Firstly, try not to let it bother you.

2) Ignore the contact if it is proving to be a waste of your time.

3) If it’s a genuinely nice person behind the contact, I will respond a couple of times out of politeness as there’s no need to be rude and awkward. I will then emphasise my lack of interest in social media, so will suggest a get-together. If nothing comes of it, I cut the person off.

I used to keep putting effort into flaky friends, because I liked giving people the benefit of the doubt. That was when I didn't know any better due to my lack of experience with dealing with people, so I would continue to entertain these situations that were frankly, a waste of time.

But as you get older, you learn to stop engaging with people if it's just a pointless exercise. Anyone who is unreliable or uninterested in spending some genuine time together, I have no interest in being friends with, no matter how much they insist on keeping a digital friendship going. Sure, it leaves you with less friends but I’d rather that than continuing to be fake friends with someone, which is exhausting and draining. I can think of more fulfilling things to do with my time.

Welcome to the digital age I guess, where people prefer to interact via phones and their computers.

It’s sad, because social media has revolutionized how we share media and the news, but it is also to blame for tearing up the fabric of real friendships and the way people interact with each other.

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