January 26th, 2005

Frank and Tim by logand


There's a big problem with LJ that I think should be addressed.

LJ makes us think we know people better than we really do. Yes, we read the inner workings of each other's heads. Yes, it's very intimate. Yes, you can get to "know" someone you've never met pretty well.

But you don't know someone you've never met as well as you think you do.

I've seen this play out on LJ what seems like a million times. Someone posts about something that's going on with them -- maybe a personality flaw, maybe an unhealthy behavior, something that people close to them are concerned about. And a bunch of LJers come out of the woodwork going "no! You're perfect just as you are! If they were REAL FRIENDS, they'd understand it! They'd accept you just as you are!"

And then a real friend comes along, someone who actually knows what's going on, and posts some real, useful advice. And then the sycophants dogpile on that person, accusing them of being "mean" and "not a real friend."

Stop it. Just fucking stop it.

If you've never met a person, if you only know what's going on on LJ, then you only know a tiny part of the story. What makes you think you're more qualified to pass judgment than people who actually know the story?

Friends aren't just people who post *hugs*. A real friend will tell you when you're being a jackass, or engaging in behavior that's unhealthy. A real friend will tell you when you're making a fool of yourself.

How do I know this? Because it's happened to me. Some of the best advice I've ever received has started with the words "You're not going to like this, but..." None of us are perfect. And sometimes we need that outside perspective. If close friends of mine had sat on their hands going "well, Kelly's doing some really stupid shit but I can't tell her because she'll get mad," I would probably have kept doing really stupid shit and would probably be in a really bad place right now.

Sometimes the words you don't want to hear are the ones that mean "I love you" the most. If somebody really loves you, they won't mindlessly pat you on the head while you ruin your life.

If you want to bite the hand that's reaching out, fine. Just don't be surprised when you're left with just the imaginary friends in your computer who post *hugs*.

So, next time you start to post a "you go girl/boy! Screw them if they don't like you just the way you are!" comment, think about it before you hit that button. Do you mean it? Or are you just saying that because you think it's what you're supposed to say? Are you really helping anyone? Or are you just being an enabler?

Friendship isn't just hearts and bunnies. It's having the guts to show you really care. It's called tough love for a reason.
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