Instagram: Wanna Be Real-Life Friends?
Are you on Instagram? No? You should be. Yes? Then you’re probably more likely to understand what I will talk about.
It is my firm belief that 99,9% of us follows some random stranger, the next door girl or boy with the awesome photography collection, witty descriptions and major following. I’m not talking about bloggers or professionals but about people who simply take beautiful photos, visit interesting places, were born ridiculously photogenic or with an inimitable sense of style, and treat themselves to brunch/cocktails/cupcakes frequently.
Now, most of the time such people happen to live at some more or less distant part of the word but we get to know so many details about their personal lives that it feels like we’re almost … friends. We know whether they are stressed because they have exams, where they celebrated their birthday, which is their favorite artsy café, how they unwind (chilling with the cat while watching Netflix, anyone?), what they are reading and whether they prefer backpacking through India to spending the entire day laying on the beach of a teeny tiny Greek island.
It’s creepy but it’s also sweet. It’s human.
Now, what would you do if that supercalifragilisticexpialidocious person happened to live in the same city as you? Walked the same streets, went shopping in the same stores and marveled at the same buildings as you?
Wouldn’t you be tempted to text them and say: “Hey, I think we might be secret soulmates, wanna grab a cup of coffee sometime? You know, at the coffee place where we both hang out but have somehow never stumbled upon each other?”
Well, that’s what I did last week. There’s this girl at my university whose fabulous Instagram account I started following a couple months back. She quickly started following me back and we’ve been exchanging likes for quite some time…
So, I couldn’t help but wonder… what if we actually liked each other in real life, too?
After thinking about it for quite a longish time, I plucked up the courage to chat her up.
What should I tell her? What if she thinks that I’m weird?
“Just go ahead and talk to her. You’ve got nothing to lose”, said the evil voice inside my head (the one that takes over before I embark on adventures).
Should I suggest meeting over coffee? Is it maybe too soon? Should I wait?
I suddenly started sounding like a high schooler about to go on her first date.
“Well, how long have you been liking each other’s posts?”, asked my friend C.
“Erm, one or two months, I think.”
“That’s long enough.”
So I texted her and then spend several times staring at my cell screen silently begging the message to come back. Well, it didn’t. But she answered. And she didn’t block me, which is good news, right?
It felt courageous but also a bit weird. Would it make me seem like a weird loner who has no friends and thus tends to message random people on Instagram chat? I couldn’t help but wonder: We already use social media to communicate with our friends. We also use them to looks for potential romantic partners, as I discussed in my posts about my Tinder experience here and here. [Using romantic and Tinder in the same sentence must be the greatest euphemism ever.] Then why do we eschew using them to meet new people and build new friendships? Why do we look down on actively trying to make new friends?
Okay, I know, people are not the same on social media and in real life; Instagram, Snapchat, etc. is usually a meticulous showreel of our best moments only. [Seriously. I know a guy who looks good even when he’s sleep deprived and posting selfies from the library.] And liking each other photos does not equal liking each other in person. We might find out that our personalities are incompatible; that there is no true connection. But there’s also the possibility that we might make a new friend or a useful contact. And I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of this possibility. Even if all my family members with a background in mathematics (and there are many) explain to me that the chances are decisively slim. Aren’t the chances of liking someone we meet for the first time in person, e.g. at a party, also fifty-fifty? And please don’t tell me that you’ve instantly liked all the people that have sat next to you in a class and chatted you up.
So let’s stop being weird about it and embrace the possibility. See how it turns out. If you ever find yourself in a similar position, go for it. And if it doesn’t turn out so well … you just got a new story to tell your friends during happy hour.
Telling stories and talking to strangers (as always),