Followers or Friends?

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During these anxiety-filled years of adolescence, it seems as though our lives revolve solely around popularity and status. In the public eye and through social media, we constantly crave more followers, praise, and recognition. With this hunger for glorification, we try to surround ourselves with as many “friends” as possible. Having dozens upon dozens of people to talk to and being invited to every social event makes us feel accepted and admired by society. Maintaining this status can be entertaining for some, but ultimately it will lead to an exhausting, purposeless life.

Many work hard to achieve such a rank of popularity, but it is all the effort even worth it? Although we like to boast about all of the events we have attended and all the people we know, secretly, we all desire those few real friendships. A simple, yet true and unbreakable relationship with even one person is something we all wish to have. Is there a limit to how many friends we should have? More importantly, which will make us happier in life… the quantity or quality of our friends?

In times of doubt or struggle, it is convenient and comforting to always be able to turn to your unrelenting mass of supporters. Online, they might send you uplifting comments while at your school or workplace, they might sympathize with you. Of course, it is great to feel like you are always wanted and cared about. Even if you lose one of your “friends”, you still have your 549 other followers who must love you… right? Unfortunately, this is normally not the case. Those often unoccupied adolescents who “like” your posts might truly admire you, but many times they are simply indolent individuals who are looking for entertaining ways to kill time and procrastinate from completing their tasks.

When mass tragedy strikes, no matter how high one’s social position is, they would not become the first priority of everyone involved in the event. People we know through online sites are already preoccupied with their own lives and problems that checking in with a name on a screen becomes of less importance to them. Followers on social media typically do not possess true concern and sympathy for you as a real friend would. The internet world is where the majority of scams of all types take place. Fooling someone is a hundred times easier your identity can be lied about and concealed, and you have plenty of time to organize and revise your messages before hitting send.

While many agree that not everyone online can be considered a real friend, they still claim to have several friends from school and workplaces. Nevertheless, having a high rank on the popularity spectrum, other, more averagely ranked people may try to use you as a platform to promote themselves. Once they reach the position they desire and have obtained much more recognition, there is a chance they may stick around, but chances are that they will depart from your relationship with their newly-earned status. It is a painful reality to contemplate, people befriending you only to make themselves noticed. Unfortunately, it is something many people experience throughout their lives. The quicker we are able to recognize these situations, the quicker we can remove ourselves from them and prevent the oncoming issues of that relationship.

In times of need when you are searching for someone to turn to, you need that one, close, reliable companion. You cannot share your innermost thoughts and struggles to someone who only likes the filters you use on your photos, but to someone who truly has compassion for you and will take time out of their day to hear you out. So many fictional novels and movies always seem to depict some sort of large, obnoxious “friend group” revolving around the main character. However, in most cases, this is not what one needs. Wouldn’t you rather go through life sharing incredible moments and experiences between you and your one or two best friends instead of constantly putting up with others while maintaining an alternate profile to please your crowd of followers?

Of course, there is no rule forcing you to only have a few friends, how many you choose to have is entirely your decision. However, when those friendships start to lose meaning or teeter on the unstable foundation of purposeless similar interests or attributes, that is when you should start reconsidering whether or not it is all worth it. You might be wondering if you should take such advice from a 14-year-old whose only current best friend is her brother. I assure you that I have studied, witnessed, and experienced these things first-hand. Now may be the time where you need to face the brutal reality and ask yourself, are you going to live for the followers… or for a few, true friends?

Christian, conservative, homeschooled, ambitious truth-seeker obsessed with being different. Student Ambassador for Prager University. Learn more at prageru.com

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