Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax
Columnist

Carolyn Hax: Typists and talkers — the new dog and cat people

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of “relationship cartoonist” Nick Galifianakis. She is the author of “Tell Me About It” (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon.

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I am 24 with my friends scattered across the country. I have recently found myself resenting my old, used-to-be-dear friends who don’t call, don’t write, but think a Facebook wall post or a mass text is “reaching out” to me. I’ve bent over backward in the past to keep in touch in a personal way by calling or writing, but have had my efforts returned with a one-line blip on Facebook so many times that I’ve recently given up.

Others have told me it’s not personal, that it’s just a sign of the times. I’m busier than most but still carve out time for what I think matters, which is REAL communication, and I say if they’re my real friends, they should do the same. I’m hurt and angry over this because I feel that, in the end, these “friends” don’t care as much about me as I care about them. What’s your take? Social media is not communicating, right?

Anonymous

Sure, it’s possible your friends don’t care as much as you do. It’s also possible they’re just as sincere about showing their affection for you in their way as you are in showing it your way. Typists and talkers — the new dog people and cat people.

To cover both possibilities: 1. Put some effort into finding friends whose communication style aligns better with yours. 2. Find that energy by putting less into taking offense and seeking evidence to support your decision to take offense.

Seriously. Your feelings are valid, but sticking around to have them validated just keeps you in an unhappy place longer than you need to be there. It can take a while to develop this into a habit, but it’s worth trying: When you realize you’re “bent over backward” trying to get a better outcome than the one you’re getting, take that as a cue to unbend and move on. Repeat till it sticks.

Also: Some friendships need proximity to survive. Before social media, these friendships just faded; now they enter a state of suspended “one-line blip” animation. That doesn’t mean it was never a real friendship to begin with; it was merely built on shared experience. If these people ever live close to you again, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy each other’s company again.

Dear Extroverts:

Please stop taking it personally. We don’t mean to insult you by not wanting to socialize and talk on the phone for long periods of time. This behavior exhausts us, and we love it that e-mail and Facebook now allow us to stay in touch regularly with the people we love without having to talk, talk, talk all the time. We promise not to take it personally when you call and chat for an hour, no matter how much this behavior annoys us (but we can’t promise to not occasionally pretend we’re in the shower to avoid the call when we’re just not up to it). Please try to understand that we still want to be your friend.

Sincerely, Introverts

“Annoys us,” to this introvert’s ears, seems harsh for a friend. “Drains us,” maybe? Otherwise, applause, thanks.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

 
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