DAME’s Friendkeeper helps us deal with an on-the-go Internet addict and helps a woman figure out what happens when her and her BFF’s daughters stop speaking to one another.
I am starting to hit the wall with this problem lately: I have this friend whose iPhone has become like an appendage. We barely even make eye contact anymore, because it’s like I am constantly competing with her Twitter and Facebook feeds, and whatever else is consuming her attention. Am I really less interesting than, well, the entire Internet? I know I cannot be the only friend of hers who is suffering from this—I think she has a problem in general. I don’t want to sound like she is an addict … except that she might be. Do I have to do an intervention? Is there a way to get her attention and say, hey, I’m here in real-life and you’re engaged in an ether salon 24/7, so why are we even hanging out? Will she even hear me, or should I post it on Facebook and see if she reads it and responds?
A Friend in Real Time
Heh heh. Funny story. I was reading your letter while walking up Broadway on my iPhone and I almost got hit by a bus. The difference between your friend and me is that I know how hideously obnoxious this is. Not long ago I brought this subject up to a friend of mine who writes a manners column, she said that no one should be looking at their phone when they are with others unless someone is waiting for their kidney. And that is true. The fact is that with me, I only realized I was doing it when someone said something to me (or in my case, five people said something to me). I’m so used to being connected, I work at home alone and my computer and phone are sitting by me and I look for any reason to be distracted from my bizness. I read about a group of friends who eat dinner together and at the start of the dinner they all turn they’re phones off. I think that’s a great plan, but maybe too extreme for your friend. My thing is that unless I’m worried about my kid somewhere, I can’t look at my phone with friends. No one needs to check Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. That is the technological equivalent of talking to someone at a party and scanning the room for someone better. I really think your friend has no idea that she’s doing it, and it would be perfectly within your rights to bring this to her attention. Unless it’s me. If you’re my friend and you’re writing this I already know.
One of my best friends is a person I met through our daughters when they were in preschool—our girls became instant BFFs. My friend, who I’ll call Sarah, is like a beacon, among a throng of sanctimommies. Lemme tell you, I couldn’t have been happier, let alone relieved, that my kid was drawn to the one classmate with a sane parent. And it made playdates that much more fun—the girls would play and we moms would open a bottle of wine and order in dinner, and it was win-win, everyone looked forward to it. But that was seven years ago. Now, since the beginning of the school year, our daughters are decidedly not friends anymore. They attend the same middle school, but they’re hanging out with different sets of friends. My daughter doesn’t want to talk about what happened, insists that nothing did, but I find that hard to believe. I don’t know if one snubbed the other. I’ve tried to talk to Sarah about it, but she just shrugs it off, with a “girls will be girls” kind of attitude. But they really don’t want to hang out together. And I’m worried about my daughter, who is exasperated whenever Sarah comes over, even though she doesn’t bring her daughter with her. Because the air is thick with tension. I’m concerned about what’s going on with our kids, and I hate that she’s not willing to talk about it—I worry that it is starting to drive a wedge between us. Do I just let this go for now? Am I overthinking this? Do kids wend their way back to each other? I just remember middle school being brutal, and know that once those ties are severed they’re hard to repair. You don’t just drift. I know something went down. Maybe it was my kid and Sarah doesn’t want to be the one to tell me? This whole situation has me really upset, and I’m worried it’s all going to blow up in my face, with my friendship as a casualty, and my kid resenting me, too.
There is nothing like a situation involving your kid’s friendships to make total knots of your inner workings. It’s a combination of the fact that we are worried about our kids (being hurt or hurting someone) and it also brings us back to our own middle school experience, which in many cases was some of the hardest time in our lives. Not me, because I never went to school. But seriously, I had this fantasy about homeschooling my daughter in middle school just so I wouldn’t have to worry about these friendship booby traps. Then I thought maybe I’d just start doing heroin so she would not notice the kids in school. And then I realized that she has to go through these things in life and I can be there and help her, but I can’t do it for her (I know from experience that doesn’t work). I think you may need to listen to Sarah and just respect that no one wants to talk to you about whatever it was that happened, that if someone is ready they will ask. I certainly understand your worry about your relationship with Sarah, but I think one way of dealing with it is to not have her over when your daughter is there. Meet her at a café. If your relationship revolved around talking about your kids, it may be hard to stay friends, but at least in a grown-up environment you can have a shot. Hopefully you can enter a new terrain and set a good example for your daughters.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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