Prior to social media, we would never attempted to manage 2,000 friendships. Can you even imagine it? The idea is absurd; yet, many people confuse real friendships with those of mere acquaintances. As a result, people are exhausted trying to keep up with everyone, and they tend to get hurt when no one acknowledges their posts.
Britannica describes friendship as “a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people.” Contrast that to the Cambridge Dictionary definition of acquaintance, “a person you have met but do not know well” or Merriam-Webster, “a person whom one knows but who is not a particularly close friend.”
With such a clear line between friend and acquaintance, why do so many people invest huge amounts of energy and time into someone who isn’t close or known nor intimate or trustworthy? I have some thoughts about this.
First, if I look at the different temperaments (human behavior), I would say the high I’s, who seek approval by everyone as part of their nature, could get consumed by social media and even cross the line of addiction quite quickly. The more Facebook friends, the better they feel about themselves…until those people betray them!
High D’s most likely don’t care about building up a huge list of people they don’t know. Rather, they want manageable lists of movers and shakers to align with and get things done. High C’s or analyticals probably have the least amount of followers, and High S’s may be right behind the I’s, wanting to support and help everyone they meet…except they can’t! It’s impossible.
Not familiar with DISC, let’s chat! It’s an awesome way to understand yourself and others better, and it applies to ALL aspects of life. God made us each unique with different wiring. Each style has strengths and weaknesses based upon their blend. I can help you discover new things about yourself!
Secondly, addiction is real for ALL styles. What was once created to be a social connection has now entrapped people, causing them to spend hours upon hours each day on their device, void of actual real human contact. Let me tell you, this addiction is sneaky! You don’t start off living on your cell phone, but if you aren’t careful, you will find yourself needing to check in on social sights: Was your post seen? By how many? Did they comment? What did you miss (FOMO…fear of missing out)?
Please get a handle on this before you are completely controlled by it. I see people in movie theaters who can’t let go of their phone. They nervously check it every few minutes because of FOMO. Why did they even buy a ticket if they are on their phones? In many cases, they are addicted and don’t even realize it. Same thing at gyms…if you can’t workout for an hour without checking your phone, you have a problem.
I am here to tell you that things can wait. Heck, I used to drive across the country with nothing but a paper map. No GPS and no cell phone. The earth did not stop rotating, and I got to my destinations just fine. Emails were waiting for me, and I could check voice messages upon my arrival. Instant gratification is consuming us as a society, and we could all benefit from setting healthier boundaries.
Next is low self-esteem, which I believe is the root cause of any addiction. Yes, more often than not, addicts are trying to cover up, hide, or run from a hurt or trauma, but if they were confident and strong, they wouldn’t seek a substance. Instead, they would find counseling, coaching, books, or whatever to figure it out. One’s low self-esteem is what begins the cycle, and too many of us fall into this category.
I’m grateful I didn’t get into drugs, alcohol, or overeating, but I did damage to myself by choosing to date the wrong people. This is a vicious cycle of “I don’t deserve any better; therefore, I shall date losers” and said jerks tell you what a piece of garbage you are, and you feel even worse about yourself.
I also had to learn that just because I was a good friend to someone didn’t mean they valued me or cared the same way I did. Some people are just takers or relationship vampires! They are all about themselves, and I have learned through the years to let them go.
I feel bad for those who have to post every meal they eat as well as umpteen selfies a day. They are desperately wanting attention because they don’t have any self-worth. To quote the Johnny Lee song, “They are looking for love in all the wrong places,” and social media is the worst possible place they could be.
Did you know China has banned Tik Tok and limits social media for children? Yup, the very country who pushed that trash upon us doesn’t want their own children subject to it. Why? Because they have enough studies to prove the detrimental impact on a child’s well-being and self-worth.
Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? I know real relationships take work and effort, but friends are people we can count on. Acquaintances, not so much. People have always been messy and moody, but we extend grace to each other. Friends seek to understand one another; acquaintances will often blast you or put you down in a pinch. Friends go the distance, and acquaintances fluctuate and follow the latest, greatest trend.
The confusion between friend and acquaintance is a symptom of taking God out of the equation. His Word gives us direction and guidance for our life, and without it, we become quite self-absorbed. We want everyone to see us and like us so we can get puffed up. Real relationships require us to invest our emotions and energy. We built intimacy and trust, and that just takes time.
Do you have friends you can call any time who will pick up and listen to you? Or do you know people, but you get their voicemail, and they never call back? Do you have people you check on and care about whom you are willing to help? If you can’t be bothered, I urge you to get some help. You may be entering Narcissism, which is on the rise here in America.
“What? No, not me,” you say? “Narcissistic people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others.” (Mayo Clinic)
Even Narcissism can begin from low self-esteem to overcompensate and hide the fact that one feels so poorly about themselves. How do we increase our self-worth? We can’t outside of God, for He created us and sent His son, Jesus, to die for our sins. Our first step must be to accept Jesus into our lives and then read the Bible to learn about His love for us. 1 John 3:1 ESV says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
Find a good church home to feed your spirit and connect with others on the path. Even with God, we can have doubts, but He is only a prayer away! When we start to slip back into old ways, the Holy Spirit can help us. I honestly don’t know how anyone beats an addiction or improves their self-esteem without God’s help.
Just to be clear: acquaintances aren’t all bad. We can have them, but we must put them in their place by giving our full attention to real friendships. Trust me, if you spend less time on people you don’t know, you WILL have more energy for those who actually love you. Your friends can help you grow, mature, overcome, and find joy. Who doesn’t want that? Struggling with setting healthy boundaries? My booklet, Turtles Don’t Fly, helps you define relationships and manage expectations of others. Get your copy today! Want more serious help? Give me a call, and we can discuss how coaching can support you.