My Friends Are Driving Me Mad; Is it Me? Ask Bea
I am a woman in my early 50s. I have a lovely circle of local friends who have been in my life in one way or another for anywhere from 10 to 20 years. We have watched each others’ children grow up, and have enjoyed girls' nights out, occasional weekend getaways, and summer gatherings. During that time most of us have been on social media, and if we don’t manage to keep in touch by text or in person for a period, we tend to acknowledge each other with "likes" and comments on Facebook. In recent years, though, especially during the height of Covid, a number of these friends have become insufferable on Facebook: humble brags about their superstar children, close-ups of their curated book collection, most of which they’d never read in real life, and happy family vacation pics. More than once I’ve sworn aloud in irritation at these scenes, knowing that there is often a rather ugly underbelly that isn’t reflected in these images. Should I get off Facebook altogether? Or do I unfriend these women on social media and in real life? Help!
It is only with great prudence that I refer people to external resources. In your case, one such resource is warranted. It is a video called “White Woman’s Instagram,” and it will serve to demonstrate that you are not alone in noticing what threatens to become its own pandemic: tone-deaf women who lack any awareness that they are unoriginal narcissists masquerading as deep thinkers. Two trigger warnings, though: 1) the soundtrack is a (delightful) earworm; and 2) you will never be able to unsee this video when you look at your friends’ social media feeds.
Now that you know you are in good company with your observations, and your blood pressure has hopefully come down several points, let’s get to brass tacks:
- Should you get off Facebook altogether to avoid things that make you hostile? While a lecture series could be created about the merits of doing exactly this, you will not deal with your underlying issues if you simply run. Caveat: If you are deriving little to no pleasure from Facebook apart from brief dopamine hits when your own posts get likes, it may independently be time to bid the platform adieu.
- Should you unfriend these women on Facebook and in real life? No. This is the nuclear option and should be avoided at all costs. Simply put: absent more information about the behavior of these friends, the “I’m living my best life” posts do not rise to the level of needing to be swatted away permanently.
- This is an option you didn’t think to ask about: Should you work through it? Yes. In a variation of exposure therapy, scrolling through these posts shouldn’t make you seethe when you realize and focus on the fact that your friend’s vow-renewal photo album with 179 likes and the words “#blessed” and “#soulmate” only means that the date of divorce will be extended a bit. Don’t look to derive joy from this; simply recognize that behind the “just whipped up this rhubarb pie for my family” post is someone crying out for approval. Do you need to offer such approval? Most certainly not; enabling isn’t advisable. Working on muttering profanities, however, is. And in your darkest hours of attempted exposure therapy, when you are feeling particularly weak (strictly reserved for times when friends share photos of their children’s straight-A report cards or pictures of date nights with clinking wine glasses), there’s always Facebook’s “snooze for 30 days” option. Good luck, Fannie. You can do this!
Editor’s Note: We hope you enjoy our advice column in which Bea offers wisdom in response to your most compelling life questions. Should you wish to seek out sage and direct advice, please email email@example.com and put “Bea” in the subject line. Kindly tell us in your communication if you wish for your name to be kept anonymous. We reserve the right to edit for any reasons, including clarity and brevity.
Bea is not professionally qualified to offer advice. Bea has no advanced degrees in psychology, sociology, or any related field, has never been trained to counsel individuals, and–save for extraordinarily rich life experiences dealing with…unique situations–possesses not a single, solitary qualification to weigh in with the advice being sought in this column. Nevertheless, Bea is doing exactly that, and warns anyone who consumes this column to consult a professional to supplement or override what may be unorthodox, direct, and possibly flat-out wrong advice from our dearest Bea.
Names may be changed by request.