Why An Internet Writer Can Never Be Your Best Friend
Being a Follower is about being submissive. Never forget that.
By: Adeeba S. // India
I will admit it outright, I am the person who secretly craves friendships I will never have. I seek a bond intensely real, requiring no words to elaborate and thereby tarnish the beauty of that camaraderie. With the way my life unfolds it is almost unattainable. I am a person who prefers solitude over companionship. Yet, the longing to be able to share a platonic relationship with another person goes much deeper than I ever let on.
Like most people these days, I constantly find myself searching for Signs. My solitary way of life grants me much time in and around the Internet and I chanced upon a writer publishing witty and relatable articles on a fairly popular website. I believe someone who is freelancing and taking it seriously is very brave and without a fight deserves my utmost respect.
She had a huge fangirl-ing going on and all of her social media oozed of it. I saw all of this and yet something in me burned so strong that I wasn’t deterred. Her writing became an integral part of my life, my conversations, my Facebook wall, my browser favourites. What’s amusing is, for months I kept this adoration to myself. I would read her work and marvel at how brilliantly she presented her thoughts. I hoped to be able to get to know her someday so I could actually explain to her what her words meant to me. But that comes later.
This beautiful writer cares immensely about her social media interactions, is what I picked up over the course of one year. By now, I don’t think I need to tell you that we were Facebook friends. Of course this was going somewhere. Sometimes, she wrote articles so spot-on to my current situation that I couldn’t resist myself and I would drop in a comment or two. I started making my existence felt to my potential best friend.
When I gave her a compliment I made sure to pick my words with dignified care. I wasn’t crazy. I was definitely not clingy and obsessive. Wait, was I? Whether or not that was true it was only for me to know. I never let on more than that. Soon enough Ms. Writer caught on to my adoration and was reciprocating just the way I hoped. Often I hinted to her that in some alternate universe she and I were meant to be best friends. Although later I would reflect on how the paradox of that statement was so glaringly evident.
I picked up on details of her life from her writing and I never forgot them. Because that’s what friends do. She knew how to occasionally drop in a kind reply to my comments and keep me happy. I say all of this in a tone of retrospect. Back then I used to get ridiculously overjoyed at seeing her name in my notifications. I spoke to everyone about her articles and urged them to read. People brought her up in conversations with me using her first name, as though even in their minds she and I were on a best friend intimacy level.
There was a lot that I wanted to talk to her about but I always reconsidered it because I knew that she didn’t have time to interact with all her followers. ‘Followers’ is such a submissive word.
A few months ago, she published her first book and clearly stated that anyone who didn’t buy it meant nothing to her. How obnoxious. How me! I went to several lengths to try to get a hold of that book. Circumstances would have it otherwise. It was gifted to me on my birthday by a special person and it left me speechless because this was exactly what I needed to further fuel my friendship. I made a fifteen second video on Instagram showing my immediate reaction on receiving the book with a huge caption explaining how much this meant to me. Her response was concise, in all CAPS and read: I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.
It was rather perplexing but I concluded, rather convinced myself that was all I deserved.
What followed after that was a sudden cutting off of my emotional investment. A random winding down, tiptoeing and unannounced slipping away of my admiration when I wasn’t really paying attention. It wasn’t an immediate flipping of an electrical fuse of emotions from deep admiration to utter resentment. It was losing the current slowly and unceremoniously; not noticing its absence. Which was somehow, (also ironically) not shocking.
So it has come down to a List. Here are my reasons why something as harmless as ‘friendship’ with an Internet Writer will not work out:
1. The first and foremost thing to remember is that no matter how much you convince others that you don’t see the distance as a hindrance to your friendship, you need to realize that it most definitely is. It’s hard for me to say that because in my honest opinion, distance is mostly a test of how true and loyal a relationship, friendship, whatevership actually is. But let’s be real, this is not a romantic pursuit. There’s no appropriate reason for you to get on a plane and surprise someone who probably won’t even remember your last name. Also, there’s no way you want to bring that kind of embarrassment on yourself, ever.
2. The next thing I realized is that if this writer you’re trying to build a connection with is from a different part of the world, you are going to face certain problems forging a bond because of the various cultural distinctions. While some things are completely unacceptable for you, they might be commonplace for them. Would you change your lifelong convictions and beliefs for someone who won’t ever do it for you?
3. When you read something wonderful someone writes, you conjure an image in your mind about the person that may or may not be real. This fantasy creation in your mind is mostly an algorithm of various past failed friendships, a summation of everything you think you need and a personality you’ve derived from merely skimming and swimming in and out of someone’s social media.
4. Let’s also clear this out, this isn’t like Online Dating. When you enroll yourself on sites like OkCupid, Tinder or any site that connects you to other people looking for relationships, every party involved is at least mildly aware of the situation. You aren’t just there for a stroll. Either you want someone to flirt with, talk with, connect with, date or indulge in such related shenanigans. When you desire to befriend someone fairly popular, what do you say to them exactly? What words do you use? How will you convince them that you have Good Intentions or even begin with telling them that you have any Intentions at all without sounding at least a little manic and creepy?
5. Then comes the part where you start seeing yourself through their eyes. You realize that you’re nothing but an ardent and devoted fan. You are someone who is dignified and respects them and so you don’t send them annoying emails asking them to peruse an article you wrote or ask them for tips on how to be a successful freelance writer. They respect that as well because those are the kind of fans they want. ‘Fans’ sounds worse than ‘followers’, oh goodness.
6. When you’ve crossed the bridge of Feeling Stupid About Your Behaviour and you’re on the banks of Selective Oblivion you’ll look at their interactions with other people from a different view. You’ll see that being sassy and cute to other fans like you comes naturally to them. This will make you cringe but secretly relieved that their attentions are not devoted to any one particular person either.
7. Time will pass. You will stop thinking about the fantasy castles you built; subtle reminders of it will keep showing up nonetheless because, you know, life is cruel. That diary you filled with their random quotes. Your iPhone notes. Finding a bookmarked article written by them while typing a link in the address bar. The spot on your arm or wrist or even your thigh where you considered getting a tattoo of one of their best quotes. These are things that will occasionally haunt you.
8. You won’t stop reading their work. That is something you would never even consider doing. Not because you’re still aiming to convince them of your integrity, neither are you so delusional to still believe that maybe doing this will make the Universe feel guilty and bend things in your favour. You will read their writing because you love it and suddenly you are not looking for anything personal about them in it anymore. This lack of attachment is familiar and something you’ve been missing for a long time.
9. Their name will no longer be brought up in conversations for the simple reason that there’s nothing left to talk about. This will feel like déjà vu. The tiny realization that there’s another glitch, another person who ruined a part of you will stick to all the gooey, needy corners of your heart and nibble away at it in background mode.
10. After sufficient time has dragged by, it will dawn on you that it wasn’t even their fault. It was never their fault to begin with.