Photo by Jordan Worthy feat. Kennedy Dawn Stearns for Mad Sounds Issue 18 - Modern Muse
I stared at the Instagram post with confusion. I was virtually face-to-face with a girl I knew many of my friends had labeled a “bitch”. I didn’t know why they thought this of her but I took their word for it.
In my mind I recalled the numerous times this girl praised my own selfies and commented encouraging things on my posts. We’re not close friends. Hell, we’ve never actually had a one-on-one conversation. I knew her mutually through others, and therefore I carried my friends’ disposition of her because I didn’t have much else to go off of.
Tuning back in to her Instagram selfie, I wondered where a simple compliment would land me on her friendship radar. Whenever she had taken the time to comment something as effortless as the heart eye emojis on my posts, I couldn’t help but feel my self-esteem boost.
I was aware if I simply commented on her post, our mutual friends would see it and deem me as a traitor. On multiple occasions I had said rude and unwarranted things about this girl, so what would my friends think about me commenting on her photo?
It seems like such a minor problem but in our generation, social media plays a huge role in relationship building. If someone asks for our Snapchat code or follows us on Instagram, we can’t help but think this is the start of some sort of friendship.
While thinking about this selfie-comment dilemma, I turned to my friend who had similar feelings about this girl. What she said has stuck with me ever since.
“I know our other friends don’t like her much, but she has never done anything to me, so what does it matter?” she said.
After hearing this, it became so clear to me.
Growing up, we’re told not to judge a book by the cover; read it thoroughly and then figure out how you feel about it. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that we judge people without giving them a closer look. Even in my second year of university, I’m learning how shallow and self-centred humans can be about each other. It may be a reflection of how we see ourselves, and by shutting others down, we build up our egos.
If this is true, then of course it makes sense why we do it. We’re so insecure these days, with Instagram models hanging over our shoulders and the “ideal” body type lurking around social media. There is so much to be discouraged by that dismantling another’s self-image is enough to lift our own.
Sharing a hatred for someone because your friend doesn’t like them isn’t enough anymore. We call it “supporting a friend” but doing this is detrimental to us. By justifying our rash judgements with this defence, we’re enabling hatred. Impulsively accepting our friends’ judgements of people is proof of how lazy and reckless we are when it comes to forming relationships that matter.
Especially in a time when division among people is heighten, we need to remember we are united with a human heart and we all share the same need to be loved and understood.