“A friend loves at all times” Proverbs 17:17
In today’s society, social media can make it more challenging than ever for us to be a good friend to each other. How can we focus on caring for our friends?
Gossip drives a lot of social media for our teens, sometimes with devastating results. Someone can impulsively share an embarrassing photo or unkind comment with the whole school with one click of a button on Snapchat. Online bullying has become all too common, fueled by our kids constantly being connected to their phones and the feeling kids have that they can say horrible things to each other online because it’s not real. Adults don’t usually experience bullying like that, but many of us have experienced not so nice comments online or gossip that hurts us. Getting likes or not on your Instagram posts can feel like winning or losing a popularity contest. Then there’s the time you see online photos of most of your friends out having dinner, a dinner you weren’t invited to. It’s common for people to experience FOMO- anxiety about the fear of missing out. People are even afraid of missing out on things others post on social media. Studies have shown that social media, which would seem to bring us together, is really creating more isolation. Friendships can be harder to navigate with all the complications we face in modern society.
What are three things we can do to be a genuine, Christian friend?
- Focus on how we treat our friends instead of how they treat us. It’s so easy to get caught up in the things our friend did or did not do while completely overlooking the things we did or did not do. Instead of wondering why you haven’t heard from someone and getting into a slump about it, think of a friend who you can reach out to today and do it. Focus on being a friend to others.
- Avoid drama. We all experience friends being upset with friends. Listen, hear your friend, but don’t add to the fire when they’re upset with another friend. Don’t escalate drama by stirring the pot! Throwing other friends under the bus to score a few points never works out well for anyone. Instead, seek to diffuse the situation by staying calm and being kind. Remeber that upset people may not hear you accurately so be careful when choosing your words. Be compassionate without increasing the toxicity of drama. Remember that once posted, photos and comments are out of your control and can have unintended consequences. Be thoughtful about your posts, texts, and conversations.
- Don’t manipulate people. Being manipulative might get you what you want in a very short-term situation, but long term, it is a destructive quality and will hurt you and the people around you. Withholding friendship, like saying we can’t be friends if you are friends with so and so seems very junior high, but here we are as adults seeing the very same things on FaceBook as people with differing political beliefs say this about each other. Excluding people from otherwise open group events is another holdover from the tween years that follows us into adulthood all too often– although it’s usually more subtle. Not being manipulative, being a friend to all, those are qualities other people adore.
If you want to be popular, be a friend to everyone. Focus on what you’re doing to be a friend and you will be the kind of friend we all want to have. “A friend loves at all times” is timeless advice that reminds us to love our friends and focus on them.
This article was based on sections of the friendship chapter in FLM’s book for teen girls, Woven.