Don’t Trade Real Life Friends for Online Ones

Jul 15, 2021
Created by the author — original from Pexels by Michelle Leman


The thrill of getting noticed online can make you feel like a superstar. Yet it hurts when those around you don’t seem to care.

You might seek comfort in online communities as I did. The people here give you all the attention you deserve. You might start to question why total strangers will help you but people you’ve known for years won’t.

Online friends like all your posts but your offline ones don’t.
Online friends sing your praises but your offline ones don’t.
Online friends understand all your hard work but your offline ones don’t.

I’ve seen too many creators turn their backs on their real friends because of resentment at the lack of support. The problem is, these are the people who like you regardless of the number of views or followers you have. They won’t abandon you if you fail.

Make all the internet friends you want but don’t ditch the real-life ones. Here’s why.


You’re so much more than your content

Many people become obsessed with their social media or online business. It becomes wrapped up in their identity and after a while, this can turn into crippling pressure.

The truth is what you post online will only ever be the tip of the iceberg of who you are. I’m not comfortable sharing everything with the entire internet nor is everything relevant. The real you is who you are when the cameras are off.

Some of my online friends struggle to depart from business discussion and it’s tiring as no one wants to talk about work all day. If someone looks uneasy the moment you talk about anything other than money-making, they probably aren’t going to be someone who sticks around.

Sorry to say but some people will only help you because they want something back from you.

This is why I love having friends who don’t care about what I’m doing at all. I can switch off from productivity mode and recharge myself. I value the people who care about me because of all the other quirky parts of my personality, not just the cool online bits.


Watch your ego

I hate the phrase “I’ve outgrown them.”

It drips with arrogance where some believe they can’t be friends with people who aren’t as ambitious as them. As if the number of digits in their bank account or follower count makes them a superior being.

Sure, it might make a difference for who you choose to work with but friendship isn’t business. I’d choose an unemployed mate who can make my sides split with laughter over a patronizing billionaire in a heartbeat.

Your friends don’t need to share the same goals as you. The variety of people on this planet is what makes life so fascinating. My friends who are in relationships love hearing the dating stories from people who aren’t. Having a mixed group of friends means allows me insights into lives I don’t lead.

Some people convince themselves their friends aren’t helping out of jealousy. Hanlon’s razor states never attribute to malice what can be accurately explained by ignorance. Don’t invent stories in your head, your friends probably have different priorities to you and it doesn’t make them evil.


You aren’t the main character in anyone else’s life

I want you to think about your friends in real life and how much you care about what they do for work.

Do you clap every time your doctor friends save a life?
Do you clap every time your finance friends make a trade?
Do you clap every time your barista friends sell a coffee?

I don’t. I know little about the specifics of what they do day-to-day and they don’t demand my daily assistance to help them do their job. It’s lucky because I’m too busy thinking about myself most of the time.

Just because social media is public, it doesn’t make it fair to make these demands of others. Be careful when mixing professional expectations with a personal relationship. Your friends didn’t sign up for that and are busy with their own lives and worries. I shouldn’t feel entitled to their time when they don’t for mine.

Most micro-actions don’t make a huge difference to a creator’s income. It might annoy you when they don’t reply but losing a friend over a clap is ridiculous.


How to encourage your real-life friends to help

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask your friends for help and mine have been superstars. What’s important is I do this without a feeling of entitlement. I hope they will do what I ask rather than expect compliance. I try my best to appreciate them and not become a nuisance.

  • Minimize requests — In the last few months, I’ve only asked my friends to leave a review for my free online writing course. I’m about to ask them to share and leave reviews for my upcoming podcast called Mindful & Driven. After this, my next request will be when I publish my first book. These are big milestones and people are happier to help.
  • Clear instructions — Give step-by-step instructions on how to do the task you’ve asked for. They are surrendering their free time for you so make it as easy as possible.
  • 2 reminder rule — I know my friends are busy and are unlikely to do it as soon as they see the message. I asked them when they might have time to do it and sent them a reminder then. After a further week, I sent them one final reminder.
  • No grudges — After the rounds of requests, I thank everyone who helped then I delete my tracking spreadsheet. This means I have no idea who completed the request and can’t hold it against them even if they wanted to. I’m bound to forget to do things for others at some point so I choose ignorance.

Please don’t get lost in the shiny world of online communities and forget to value those around you. These close relationships can have a huge impact on your long-term mental health so don’t toss them to the side.

I understand you might feel undersupported but remind yourself to be grateful for everything else your friends bring to your life. If any of my friends are reading this, thank you!

Amar's Letter

Real talk on driving impact as an imperfect human.