adult friendships critically lacking in capitalism
experts warn that we aren't getting the recommended daily dose of capitalism, suggest adding it to social interactions to reduce the deficit
SIGN UP FOR MY EXCLUSIVE ONLINE COMMUNITY TO FIND OUT HOW TO SATURATE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IN THE WARM EMBRACE OF MONEY.
Being alone is my stasis. Not in the way where I don’t have anyone close to me because I fundamentally don’t trust anyone; in the way where I have very few people close to me because I have learned not to trust most people.
I have had less than five true best friends in my whole life and been part of only one friend group in my adult life.
When the world wasn’t an uncontrollable oil spill on fire, this was a perfect state of being for me!
However, about five years ago, it became painfully clear that I needed to find a support structure if I had any hope of keeping my sanity and perspective. So, like a good little Millennial perfectionist, encouraged by platitudes about my vibes attracting my (culturally insensitive and appropriative term) tribe, I set out to find my people.
Spoiler alert: I did indeed lose all sanity and perspective.
And I’m convinced that the search for a supportive group of people put me on the express train to Hermit Town, of which I’m the Mayor and only citizen.
NO FRIENDS? NO PROBLEM! IF YOU’VE GOT MONEY YOU’RE JUST A FEW CLICKS AWAY FROM YOUR NEW BEST FRIENDS!
The first group in which I made my first and most concerted effort was yoga. A white woman doing yoga? Groundbreaking, I know. Of course, I had a yoga account on Instagram, but I also tried some in-person yoga classes because I understand the method of how adults make friends, even if I’m not great at implementing it myself.
Fortunately for my yoga practice, I found Ashtanga yoga. Unfortunately for my friend-making practice, I found Ashtanga yoga where the traditional class is not a group activity. When I could afford it, I went to an Ashtanga session once a week, but unsurprisingly, my fellow students were just as reserved as I was.
Conventional wisdom at the time was that online groups were good for people like me because of the asynchrony of communication, and I sincerely (embarrassingly) hoped that the online yoga community would be as open, kind, and accepting as they advertise themselves to be.
They are not.
On Instagram, you first need to be popular before you can make real human friends, or else no one will interact with you. So, when I was trying to gain popularity by having mildly popular posts, I asked someone mildly popular how they set up their phone to take photos. This was someone who used the “just me and my phone” rhetoric often, so I felt fairly comfortable asking this question of this person. I assumed she’d suggest a tripod, but I was honestly curious and I know that sharing information is a good way to start an acquaintance.
The answer I got back: “I just set my phone up to record! You just have to give it a try!”
I wondered why she had taken the time to respond to me if she wasn’t going to actually say anything. Then I realised her desire for an algorithmic boost superseded her obvious disdain, and I felt sorry for someone who had to answer what they thought were stupid questions for something as ephemeral as an algorithm boost. At least in customer service, you get paid a bit of real money for putting up with people who make you want to lobotomise yourself.
A few days later, she posted a series of photos in front of her picturesque glass French doors overlooking the forest outside her home, and in a few of them I saw her husband’s reflection in the glass, holding the phone and taking the photo.
Most of my tentative interactions with people in the “yoga community” were similarly superficial and dishonest. The fewer followers someone had, the kinder they were, but once someone got enough followers to receive free yoga shit, it was like a corporate branding PowerPoint had taken over their personality.
No, there were no friends to be made in such a gladiatorial atmosphere.
After yoga, I tried to build relationships with people who gathered around several other online communities: sustainable fashion, fashion media, freelance writers, and mental health activism.
I was never as active in these groups as I was with yoga because the nasty, scammy undercurrent only got stronger. So much so that I left the mental health activism “community” with MORE self-doubt and anxiety than I had before!
Remember when I said that I had lost all sanity and perspective? Not hyperbole.
For the last two or three years, every interaction I have had, in person or online, has very clearly been a transaction.
SWIPE UP TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN CONTINUE TO SUBSIDISE AND IDOLISE MY LUXURY LIFESTYLE!
Thankfully, I spent none of my real money on these groups, but even five years ago there were some spectacular con-women promoting the idea that you could buy their friendship by joining their online community for a monthly subscription.
I’ve read anecdotes about online communities that are truly moderated, where those in charge do care for their group and provide real-world resources beyond links to information or, my personal fav, opportunities.
Perhaps that requires a level of trust in others that I’ll never reach because I have found nothing like that in my quest.
Paying a monthly fee to join a Facebook group or Discord channel to interact with the same people you can find in IG comments sections doesn’t sound much like a community at all.
Every time I see someone promote their Exclusive Online Community, I hear:
“Hey how about you pay me for my friendship? I’ve got the best friendship, you’ve never seen friendship as good as mine, you know everyone is talking about how they would love to pay me for my friendship, they’d pay top dollar because my friendship truly is the best in the world. I have the best friends and I am the best friend and if you pay me to be your friend we’ll be winning, non-stop winning! And friendship.”
Beyond the icky feelings I have about paying to have friends — like what happens if I can’t pay anymore because my real-world circumstances have gone badly? then I just don’t have friends anymore? what the fuck? — there is a wealth of evidence that money ruins human relationships.
It causes never-ending strife and pettiness within families.
Not having enough money to meet your material needs is a leading cause of divorce.
It ends friendships.
Why does anyone think that a for-profit group of friends is a good idea?
And why did I think I could find human connection on an advertising app?
Maybe the blatant scammers are actually more honest that than IG yoga influencer and her tripod husband. The scammers have figured out how to earn real money directly from their followers without needing to interact with the IG algorithm.
That yoga influencer’s nonsense answer to my question might have put one of her posts on another person’s Explore page, and they might have given her a like or a follow. Then that process might have repeated enough times to get her posts in front of a white man-owned yoga brand who might have sent her a yoga mat or some leggings. Maybe if that happened enough times, she could start charging the white man-owned yoga brands a fee for posing and posting wearing their shit. And maybe after a few years’ worth of sponsored posts, under which she still has to respond to people she hates, she would make enough money to quit her day-job and do IG yoga full time. The ultimate dream!
But she’ll never be able to roll her eyes and simply ignore comments and questions from her followers. She’ll never be able to live in her beautiful home without thinking about fucking Instagram. Because she bought the scam that being a social media influencer is a sustainable career.
Like I bought the scam that social media could be a place to find social support if I just worked hard enough and had the right mind-set and the right clothes and the right Photoshop and the right filters and the right followers and an Insta husband and and and and and