I have grown up with social media.
In the fourth grade, I created my first email address.
Sixth grade saw the rise of Myspace.
Seventh was the introduction of Facebook (still going strong), ninth grade was graced with my ridiculous teenage tweets (thankfully abandoned now).
By the time I was in twelfth grade and Instagram began to gain traction, it was beginning to be a bit much, but I’ve adopted that, and Snapchat, and everything else in between.
These ever growing social networks have made it easier and easier to keep in contact with people from all different times and places in my life.
But, they also pose a problem…
How do you grow out of a friendship organically when the person in question is presented to you in a million different ways online?
Daily, I interact with people from all phases of my life, elementary school, high school, even daycare! All online. But, many, if not most, I haven’t seen in person in years.
To many people, this is the value of social networks. There is all this opportunity to connect and reconnect with people in your life. To me, it can be exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going offline anytime soon. But, I do have to wonder, at what point do I stop considering these online avatars of people I once knew, my friends?
This conundrum is easily solved when the relationship was minor, simply delete and unfollow whenever the person’s posts become boring or unrelated to me. Easy.
But, what do you do when the person in question once played a major part in your life?
People often discuss the heartache that comes with a romantic breakup, but rarely, if ever, do people express that gut-wrenching feeling of losing a friend. It feels awkward and vaguely intrusive to watch as someone I was close with develops and grows into a different version of them self that I do not know at all. Not to mention the unnaturally isolating experience of virtually watching that person begin to develop that sort of closeness with someone else.
It may sound strange but I wonder if that pit in the stomach feeling of losing a friend might be preferable to this pseudo-voyeur experience that comes with remaining connected to the friendships you have outgrown.
What are your thoughts? Do you remain online friends with people you were once close with? How do you know a friendship is over with social media to keep you connected?