Dear Kate and Allen,
My best friend and I are in college and I love her very much. We’ve been super close since elementary school. But since we started college, she’s gotten really into Instagram, and it’s driving me crazy. She wants to be an “influencer,” but that just translates to her being fake.
We’ll literally be hanging out in her basement, bored, and she’ll post a selfie with some essay-length caption about mindfulness and “being present.” Or I’ll see a bunch of glamour shots from a family trip where I know she was having a terrible time. Maybe that’s petty, but she’s also started to drag me into it. We can’t get anything to eat without having to wait for her to take a million pictures of the food, and we can’t go anywhere without having to take a million selfies. Sometimes she’ll ask me to hang out and we’ll spend the whole time looking for a good spot to take photos.
It’s making me not want to spend as much time with her, and I think she’s noticed. Is there a nice way to tell your very best friend that she’s being annoying?
Sick of Selfies
Allen: My best friend is the most annoying person I’ve ever met and I tell him all the time. But he’s also my best friend. I was the best man at his wedding and my entire toast was about how he never shuts up.
He’s fine when I tell him he’s annoying, because we’re honest with each other. I think you have to be honest with your friend and tell her how you feel. If that’s her dream, as a friend you need to support her.
But as someone who needs to put yourself first, you don’t necessarily need to spend time with her. Influencers are just the worst. I don’t blame you for not wanting to be around her. If you still want to be around her tell her to put the phone down. If she pulls it out, take it from her and throw it against a wall. She can use her big bucks from being a super famous influencer to buy a new one.
Kate: I think there is. “You know, (best friend’s name), I’m just not as into Instagram, and I’d appreciate if we could spend less time focused on photos.” Or, “I love you, (best friend), but I want to focus on spending time together, not posting stuff online.”
I don’t think you should try to moderate her content or tell her how “fake” you think most of her posts are. You’re both young and exploring new interests (and new identities!), which will inevitably take some time to coalesce. Plus, you never know. Maybe she really was reflecting on mindfulness while you were bored in the basement.
Still, it’s not unfair to crave some quality time with your friend, sans screens, and it’s not unfair to tell her that. Just go easy, at least the first time around.