I got the call a couple weeks ago.
Jen, you won’t believe this. Kelly UNFOLLOWED Snowball on Instagram.
Anna, one of my longtime childhood friends, lives in Atlanta and has been trying for eight years to conceive a child. Eight flipping years. She recently started an Instagram account for her Siamese cat, Snowball, and posts an adorable picture of him once a day. Anna doesn’t have a child, so Snowball is her equivalent.
He’s always doing something cute in the pictures.
Wearing a tutu.
Doing a trick.
Licking his paw.
Anna downloaded an app on her phone that shows users who unfollowed their social media profiles. Using this app, Anna learned that one of our mutual friends, Kelly, stopped following Snowball’s Instagram account. Hence the phone call.
In case you’re not familiar, unfollowing is to Instagram what unfriending is to Facebook.
I’m sure Kelly had no idea Anna would ever know she unfollowed Snowball’s account. I’m also sure Kelly’s unfollowing wasn’t personal, she just wasn’t interested in seeing pictures of Snowball wearing a sombrero.
What’s noteworthy is that Kelly is a travel writer who routinely posts pictures on social media of tropical and exotic places she’s visiting. Kelly recently opened her own online travel agency and has spent considerable time promoting it on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
And here’s the thing. Anna follows Kelly’s social media accounts and “likes,” “pins,” and “re-tweets” almost every single one of Kelly’s posts and promotions for her travel agency.
She promotes Kelly’s endeavors because she’s Kelly’s friend and she wants to be supportive.
Anna likely doesn’t give a crap that Kelly is eating tempura in Taiwan (like) or hiking near Dudhsagar Falls in Goa (like, comment, share!).
For Anna, sharing Kelly’s posts, or clicking the “like” button on one of Kelly’s pictures is her way of saying, “I acknowledge this and I support you.”
Sometimes being a good friend is supporting other peoples’ pursuits and passions, even if they genuinely don’t make a difference in our own lives. Even if we don’t “care.”
People can be pretty judgmental about what others post on social media. I say this because I’ve been judgy as well.
For instance, I generally get annoyed when people upload pictures of themselves working out or, specially, bragging about the number of calories they’ve burned.
The root of my irritation is jealousy.
Jane Doe finished hiking the Appalachian Trial while I’m sitting on my couch with a red wine mustache after I’ve downed an entire box of Cheez-Its.
And they weren’t even the “Reduced Fat” kind. They were the whole shebang.
Jane, I hope you take your Lululemon pants and fall into a ravine. By the way, I burned 13 calories on my rotation from the sofa, refrigerator, and bathroom. So take that!
People can find all sorts of reasons to be annoyed by other peoples’ social media posts. Job promotions. Selfies. Political rants. Dinner. A million pictures in a row of their children. Creative endeavors. Paintings and pottery. Family deaths. Monogrammed cups and towels for sale. Pictures of “success” stories from someone’s MLM business. (FYI, if someone finds a “stomach wrap” that’s totally legit, I’ll be all over it.) Philanthropic events and fundraisers. Pregnancy announcements. Newborn announcements. Engagement pictures. A new car or home purchase. Mushy gushy love sonnets to significant others.
Nobody is immune from judgment.
You know what? People can post pretty much whatever they want on their own social media accounts and nobody really has the right to judge. And further, if someone is posting something that is a milestone or special to them, then as their friends (Read: true friends, not acquaintances we sat next to in middle school biology twenty years ago), it wouldn’t kill us to be supportive and acknowledge it.
I’m not saying someone should feel validated by the number of likes or comments they receive on the
Fakebook Facebook. I’m also not saying that clicking “like” on a social media post is the litmus test for true friendship. However, I’m saying that, when looking at the “big picture,” true friends should support their friends’ endeavors.
This isn’t limited to social media. This is real life.
Being a true, supportive friend, is being a friend who routinely shows up.
As we get older and have more personal, family, and career obligations, “showing up” for good friends takes different forms. It means asking about a friend’s new job. It means making an effort to see their new house or their newborn baby, even if it’s “out of the way” and inconvenient. It means attending weddings (even the second and third), baby showers, and milestone birthdays. It means making a phone call or sending a text message or e-mail to congratulate them about a “big deal” accomplishment.
And sometimes, even sometimes, showing up means liking the living bejesus out of Snowball’s Instagram pictures.
Because, come on, seeing pictures of him snoozing on a windowsill are the cat’s meow. (I hate me.)
True friends say, “this is important to me because it’s important to you. So I’ll ask you about it and show an interest.”
What if we all supported people the way we wanted others to support us? Even if we didn’t necessarily “care”? What if we all showed an interest in things that were going on in other peoples’ lives, even if it doesn’t truly matter to us? What if we all showed our friends that something they’re doing is important to us just because it’s important to them?
What would happen?
I can tell you what will happen… a whole lot of love and good feelings would happen.