handshake, hands, laptop

Are you the online friend you want your friends to know?

I am the kind of friend that everyone wishes would disappear. We all have that one friend who always has their own little back channel to us. My mom used to tell me not to put my things away in the bedroom because, if that person ever found out, “they’d know instantly.” And it’s true — once you step into someone’s life, all bets are off the table.
There’s no “you-are” button that will take away your pain.

I’ve had a lot of relationships over the years that ended because I stepped out of line. One boyfriend publicly stated that I didn’t “respect him enough as a man.” For someone who was always so outspoken and unapologetic about my opinions, he was basically telling me that I was too politically correct, and in the wrong — and now I’ve always felt like I was being too disrespectful.
The thing is, I wasn’t disrespectful at all. In fact, I was trying to be respectful — but I simply didn’t know how.

It’s the little things that bother me the most. Like when my friends start a conversation with a witticism about their favorite band or movie, I automatically roll my eyes in a way that makes it sound like I don’t actually like the thing in front of me. Or when a friend at a concert mentions that a specific person stood out to them at the concert, I automatically roll my eyes because I assume they must not like the thing at the concert as much as I do.

But online, when a conversation starts, I don’t have to say anything at all. I can start a new thread and just keep going without interacting with the previous conversation.
Why do I keep doing that? Because part of me wants to. Part of me wants to keep bringing the fun and light and Internet into the real world. Keeping the fun and light and Internet in the real world is what I’ve always wanted to do, and since I’m a woman, it’s what most of you out there want, too.

But here’s the hard truth: if you don’t engage in the fun and light part of the Internet, nothing else will. Because, unless you stop at least trying to engage, nothing else will. You will continue to see the same political memes, the same funny memes, the same inspirational quotes, the same “look them up” articles, the same “look them up” articles that come and go again and again, the same “look them up” articles that make you laugh your ass off, the same “look them up” articles that make you feel like you’re doing work.
You will see the same posts on Amazon and Facebook and Twitter and Medium and all the other places you can find “self-improvement” advice. You will see the same advice you need to go to Oprah and complain to her about, because it’s just not working for you. You will see all the self-help books and podcasts and websites that are just another “Internet buzzword.” You won’t get anywhere either because none of them will budge an inch.

“I just want to talk about how awesome my life is right now.”
No, you don’t.
“I’m going through a hard time right now, how can I talk about my life?”
No, you don’t either.
“I just want to tell you all about my life right now because I know it’s been hard, and I want to help you through it with my life story.”
No, you don’t either.
Because you’re not a stranger.
Because you’re not a threat.
Because you don’t know anything different.
You’re just a dick.
And you’re probably doing a lot of this stuff for the wrong reasons.
Let’s break this down a bit more.
You’re not a threat.

Threats are persistent and persistent and persistent. They’re unpredictable. They’re annoying and annoying and mislead you with their constant presence. They might even believe that by constantly annoying you, they’re keeping you safe. They might be keeping you safe, but they’re not. An actual threat might be quiet for months at a time, but their presence is always clear. And persistent. Because they trick you every time you least expect it.
You’re just a dick.

Talking about yourself is a fun activity. Sharing your thoughts, feelings, issues, whatever it is that you have to share with someone else about… it’s really interesting. Sharing those things with another person about you is a thrill and a great feeling. Sharing that with another person is even better.
It’s even been shown that it helps you in mental health because other people can see how you feel about certain topics and can feel the emotion that you are trying to suppress.
It’s not the most attractive thing in the world, but it’s true

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