In the modern digital age, there is a case to be made for using the Internet make our lives easier. Want a recipe? A book? An Uber at 3am? The Internet is happy to provide (and to profit). Less obvious, but just as life changing is the way cyberspace has transformed the social realm. We make friends, colleagues, lovers and even enemies online, opening ourselves up to a social network that transcends time and place. For LGBTQ people this network can be life changing: increasing avenues for acceptance, support, resources and even as a vehicle for finding just the right happily ever after.
Social media has made it so that everything we share online can be viewed by friends, friends of friends, and often even strangers we’d never actually consider friends. Inevitably, this leads to impression management, curating just the right collection of filter-hazed photos, anecdotes, witty retorts and hashtags to convince others that our life, and by extension, ourselves, are just a little brighter, a little happier, a little better than reality.
This very fakeness is social media’s fatal flaw. How do you really get to know someone when you only see the highlights? How do you experience the joy of an unexpected connection when filters and algorhythms show you only those who are just like you? And what are you to do when you’re moving house in the middle of August and could really use some help getting the damn couch up the stairs?
If most of your friends are online, I feel your pain. Making friends as an adult is awkward. Gone are the days that sharing your peanut butter Wonder Bread sandwich guaranteed you a BFF. Schedules are busy and work/life balance has given way to checking your work email while sitting on the loo (don’t judge, we all do it). That’s why LGBTQ friendly events, centered around a shared interest like reading and writing can be just the place to connect with real people, in real time. You have a built-in topic of conversation, a preplanned schedule of events and a room full of reluctant introverts just looking for an excuse to say hi It’s just like Wonder Bread only better.
The Internet is great for bringing together like-minded people with similar interests, but it’s the face-to-face connection, that creates the kind of friends that help you bury bodies. And honestly, couldn’t we all use a friend or two like that? Come to the Bold Strokes Books UK Festival and meet the friend you’ll need on moving day.