The Staying Power of Organic Friendships
Before social media took over everyone’s lives, we had a more developed ability to make friends naturally or organically. If you’re over 40, you probably remember having to make friends post-college without the aid of the internet. And your memory probably tells you that you did fine. The people you met in person were probably more likely to keep hanging out with you than the people you may have met online first. Organic friendships have an old-school staying power.
People treat online platonic relationships the same way they do romantic ones
My biggest issue with trying to make friends online is that so many people ignore someone who isn’t perfect. I don’t know about you, but none of my friends are perfect, and I don’t go into a platonic relationship looking for the same personality traits or even the same number of boxes checked that I do with friendships.
After meeting, a lot of people ghost or blow off a platonic friend with the ease I did dating dudes on OKCupid. I don’t understand why someone needs me to be exactly like them in order to be friends with me. I literally have zero friends who are exactly like me. I don’t need to like a friend enough to want to spend all day with them. That’s what romantic partners are for.
The bar for organic friendships is lower because it’s harder or ruder to blow them off
If you met someone in person first, and they asked you to hang out again, would you ghost them? Probably not. If you gave them your contact info, it’s probably because you wanted to be contacted again. There is some kind of natural inclination to continue seeing people we first met in person.
Perhaps it’s harder to ignore them because they may live in your neighborhood or know some of your friends. Perhaps it’s because we actually see their physical selves more, and it’s so much easier to make friends if you see someone repeatedly.
It seems to me that people have a different set of qualifications for someone they meet online first compared to someone they meet organically. The bar is set lower for the person met organically. The friendship is more based on how you know each other in person (work, mutual friends, a class) rather than how likely you would be to date if your biological sexes and genders lined up with your preferences.
I have tons of friends I met in person first who have very little in common with me. These are people I would have swiped left on if I’d seen them on Bumble BFF or wherever else friends are hiding. Why is the bar lower for organic friendships?
What you have in common is obvious immediately
Two of my close friends were people I met because of ferrets. My older friend and I met possibly on craigslist back in 2007 or so. I don’t really remember how we met. She had ferrets, and so did I. She was an anal-retentive neat freak who smoked cigarettes and weed (neither of which were anything I’ve ever done, nor would I date someone who did), but we liked each other and enjoyed hanging out.
My more recent friend and I met because I saw her walking her ferrets on the sidewalk as I was coming home from Jewel-Osco with a granny cart full of groceries. She’s over 10 years older than me, was a messy hoarder with no job, and also smoked two substances. Again, I never would have connected with her if I’d seen her online first. But we love talking, and she took great care of her ferrets, and with an organic friendship, that’s really all that matters. I didn’t scrutinize her profile to find some flaw that gave me a reason for not wanting to talk anymore.
Do we all just hate people from the internet?
A thought just occurred to me. I am a pretty compassionate person when I’m not reading an article or social media post about a buffoon who made dumb decisions. If I read about someone who got something stuck in their butt, I’d laugh and call them an idiot. If someone I work with did that, I’d gasp and ask if I could help them with anything. I bet I can sew a hemorrhoid pillow in about an hour. Let me ease your suffering, friend I know in the flesh.
Maybe the impersonal nature of the internet is what’s keeping adults from making friends online. Since it’s easy to say, “fuck that stranger,” people are more inclined not to care about someone they met online even if they spent an hour at Starbucks with them. I think we’re all more likely to be friends with someone only after seeing them a few times, and if we all blow off strangers on the internet with the ease we are, how will we ever make friends at all unless the meetings are alway