Dear Dr. Donut: When Your Group Text is Lit
Dear Dr. Donut,
I want to talk about online friends...and text threads. I'm part of 4 or 5 of them, and sometimes, I come back to 100+ text messages after doing the dishes. It's overwhelming, because I care, but I also can't keep up. I feel like a bad friend for not responding to the (very real!) needs I scroll through in the threads, but I can't stay on top of it AND take good care of myself and family. How do I balance my offline life with the meaningful (but unsustainable) relationships I've developed online? How do I set healthy #boundaries but still let my peeps know I love them? Do I need to vote somebody off the island?
Even donut doctors struggle with boundaries sometimes. You're not a bad friend. I promise you.
Here's my Hot and Fresh Take: online friendships (as well as offline friendships that have morphed into online friendships due to geographic distance), should add to the life you are out there living, not take away or drain you of your precious time and energy.
I don't know about you, but I'm getting straight up pager vibes from cell phone culture lately. Very rarely will my phone be off, and very often it's within four feet of me. Since this is the story for most of us, we collectively don't extend that much grace when we are met with a couple voicemail greetings in a row, an hour or two between text responses, or (gasp!) a social media post before a personal reply (#literally #howdareshe).
A component of living with an "attitude of gratitude" is acknowledging and truly appreciating others' time spent giving you attention. "My attentiveness to you is a privilege, not a right." Full disclosure: that's cringeworthy as heck, but if you don't fiercely guard and protect your time, who will? I'm sayin'.
Group texts are weird and beautiful. Party in your pocket for sure. 100 messages? I hope your sounds are off. Hats off to you for doing adult things, like dishes, and workin' on being present.
Personally, I am NOT going to win any awards for being ~the most present~. However, I work to acknowledge that if a friend is existing online or in a text thread, she is simultaneously existing IRL somewhere and I'm hoping she's not walking into any trash cans on the street or ignoring her friend over dinner. With that Philosophy Lite view I have developed, it has been easier for me to accept the fact that sometimes my witty and perfect (TBQH) and totally off-topic anecdotes will simply go unanswered and *sigh* unappreciated. Because peeps have to work, play, study, walk down the street, go on dinner dates, and do dishes at some point.
The Internet is a sneaky one. It convinces us we're all close and connected, which in many ways, freaking rocks. But what about when we're actually 2000 miles apart and in completely different life seasons? That's where the beauty AND the flaw lies. Either way, still only one click away from "presence." Equal parts "heck yeah technology!" and "I'm going to never lose contact with anyone ever again this is slightly horrifying help."
I believe very meaningful relationships can be cultivated online. I also believe it is so important to put your ding dang phone down every once in awhile to center yourself. Most people--doctors and donuts alike--would agree. If your group text survivors also believe your friendship to be meaningful, and are as caring and thoughtful as you seem to be, they're keepers. If I were you, I would definitely bring these feels to the table (group chat). How can you hold space for one another, encourage each other, all while spreading your wings just a little bit? I am almost certain they would be supportive and understanding (perhaps even admiring?) of your desire to shift the focus back to what is right in front of your Real Life Face. We're on this weird ride together. Surround yourself with positive things, and you'll gain prosperity. You're a survivor. You're gonna make it.
Keep on Survivin',