What friendship really looks like

Friends show up at their friends’ funerals — and to support their family

By Caitlin Kelly

The spread of social media — “friends” on Facebook you’ve never met, “likes” that mean nothing when the chips are really down — has done little to define true friendship.

Like this horrifying story from The New York Times:

In early 2020, after Ava noticed Mr. Justin angling for her attention on TikTok, she learned that friends in New Jersey and Florida were selling him photos of her as well as her personal information, including her cellphone number, which Mr. Justin used to call and text her. In another instance, Mr. Justin logged onto a classmate’s school account and did math homework in exchange for information about Ava, her family said.

In what world do your friends sell your image and personal information to a stranger?

The 15-year-old girl ended up with a dead teenager on her lawn after he fired a shotgun through her front door. Awesome.

This recently hit home for me, in a less physically violent way, after — one more time! — a bitter envious stranger decided to badmouth me and try to hurt me professionally.

Using social media, of course.

Last year a “friend” on Facebook took a screenshot of something I said on my private page in real anger about an editor — and sent it to the editor, costing me a professional relationship.

I cut 200 “friends” and won’t accept any more.

There are too many days now it’s really toxic media, destructive media and why-do-we-even-bother media.

It’s sort of funny, sort of disgusting.

Only those whose own lives are small and shitty and disappointing feel the need to take down people who are visibly happy and successful, as I am.

So this latest attack, a fellow writer I even worked with years ago on a story, came after a friend of mine to discredit me by making false accusations, which I won’t detail or dignify here.

Nice try.

A true friend defends us, and they did.

What a coward this attacker is…and so charming to assume I couldn’t possibly have a good friend ready to stand their ground.

As I’ve said here before, I come from a family typically unable to express love, affection, support and belief in my value — as a daughter, cousin, professional. There’s been a lot of anger and name-calling and bitterness, ironic from people with a lot of their own success and a lot of money.

But the blessing it gave me?

One — self-respect!

I don’t give a shit what they think of me because they’re a dry well.

And I have tremendously loving and loyal friends, in Canada, in Europe, in Australia and New Zealand.

They have my back, if not literally, emotionally.

Because, being an ambitious and successful woman of strong opinions (OH NO!), I’ve been pissing people off since my teens.

Not with the explicit goal to piss them off, but not kowtowing to their disapproval or envy or attacks.

Women are trained from earliest childhood to smile, be nice, don’t argue, don’t bite back, suck it up, it’s “just a joke.”

So those of us who shrug and laugh at this bullshit are even more scary.

Why aren’t we scared?????

Because we have pals, and allies, who know us and love us.

I try hard to be a loyal, loving friend — sending cards and flowers and gifts, making regular phone calls, showing up when times are shitty, not just celebrating a win.

I admit, I am shaken when someone tries to take me down. Who wouldn’t be?

But, really, the best revenge is to laugh, call a true friend, and enjoy a good old chinwag.

11 thoughts on “What friendship really looks like

  1. I’m so sorry this happened to you, I really don’t know why people do this, except for the fact that there must be lacking something within themselves. I’m so glad your friend stood by you and you really don’t care about the petty craziness anymore.

  2. ThingsHelenLoves

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with difficult situations involving so-called friends. There is a compliment of sorts in it I suppose; people usually work hardest to take down their biggest threat or most envied. Here’s to true friendship and genuine connections!

  3. Jan Jasper

    Targeting kids is horrible, they are less likely to be able to defend themselves. Targeting an adult out of jealousy is awful in a different way. I know, Caitlin, that this has happened to your more than a couple times on social media; clearly your success makes some bitter people envious. I suppose that’s a compliment, but still… It’s particularly disturbing that this incident was perpetrated by a writer you’d previously worked with. That you’ve made friends all over the world and can apartment-swap with friends in Europe is impressive. Social Media makes that possible, and of course your outgoing personality plays a big role. Social media is a double-edged sword. The ease of online bullying (and the behavior that was legitimized by Trump being president) has brought out a horrible underbelly of humanity that I guess was there all along (?), but we didn’t see it. Online bullying, flight attendants getting punched for reminding passengers to mask up. It’s very hard to say if people have gotten worse, or do they merely now have the means, and permission, to act horrible? I do think you are lucky that your challenging childhood has helped you develop a thick skin and a solid sense of yourself. I envy you. My mother and I were very close and, while I’m very grateful for that, I do think it’s part of why I became an adult who is too thin-skinned.

    1. Thanks..It’s a weird time we’re living through, that’s for sure.

      I’ve had jealous people try to take me down since my 20s, when I was already successful. I thought NY — being huge — would offer me enough anonymity. This nasty woman is a member of an online writers’ group I belong to and is determined to tar me with some imaginary brush. She’s a nobody.

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