I Am Not Your Best Friend
Years ago, I wrote a fairly popular online blog. I shared tales of croissant-baking and friendship making. A woman was a comma like that, breathlessly typing about her day. A lot of the stories would find their way into my first book, The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here. I used my blog as a space to work out ideas, experiment with storytelling and genuinely share recipes and books I loved.
But I never expected what would happen as a result of that sharing.
For the first twenty-one years of my life, the internet did not exist. When you wanted to see your friends, you yelled at their window, buzzed their bell, or called them on the phone. When you wrote a story, you shared it with the people you knew, and in the rare occasion when it was published, there wasn’t an easy way for people to contact you about what you had written. There existed this exquisite divide between self and stranger, one that ceases to exist.
Ours became a world where people believed they knew you because of the parts of yourself you chose to share online. They became voyeurs and consumers, feeling increasingly entitled to more of you. All the while you kept shouting into a void, PARTS OF ME! PARTS OF ME! NOT THE WHOLE! And when you failed to deliver on this more, or you became more human, fallible, and oh-so-flawed, they stormed your space with their pitchforks and expletives. You weren’t the person they thought you were, when, in reality, they actually never knew you at all.
On this blog I used to write I had a comments section where people were genuinely respectful before the era of never read the comments. However, I noticed this encroachment, this strange invasiveness. Questions that were inappropriate. Advise on how they would live my life. A detailed sharing of their own life without the realization that I never consented to that sharing or how I would feel as a result of it. I bear childhood trauma, wounds I’ve spent my whole life dressing, and some people felt they needed to add to that weight. I had to help them with their lives because it appeared I was navigating my own with relative sanity.
I was expected to be a friend, therapist, and hand-holder for a complete stranger — a…