I paced the length of my room as the red thread of anxiety wrapped itself tighter around my neck.

Suddenly, I was replaying the entire 24 hours it had been since I had spoken to her, wondering if I had sent the wrong meme on the group chat, or posted some opinion that she did not like.

It was right when I was about to spiral further when I felt the long-awaited buzz in my pocket and saw that she had reacted to that story with a heart eyes emoji.

"Phew!" I thought.

Yet, as I liked the message and was about to keep my device from feedback hell back into my pocket, the atrociousness of this entire situation hit me like a bus in the middle of Bangalore traffic on Saturday.

Was I really questioning the depth of my friendship and the love and respect I have for this person based on the lack of one interaction on Instagram? Yeah, I was.

I thought back to a debacle of overthinking in March where I ignorantly assumed that a friend did not want to be a friend anymore, just because they were not as active on Instagram as I was.

I went down a rabbit hole of completely ignoring the fact that not everyone communicates or expresses themselves in the same way.

I was equating engagement, likes, and comments to the pure beauty of having an actual conversation under the summer sun, be it for 10 minutes. Because honestly, those 10 minutes felt more meaningful than any amount of blue bubbles could feel.

Technology is amazing. I get it, I truly do. Technology is the reason I am writing this, the reason you are reading this, the reason I am talking to my friends back in India every day, while I am currently 4.5 hours behind in time for vacation (BST time zone things).

I am in awe every day of the strides we have made, what with the advent of AI, machine learning, and whatever new product Apple has come up with.

Yet, we must take a moment and reflect on how technology has had a massive impact on our dynamics of friendship and friend groups. The discomfort when the little text says "seen 2 hours ago", or the lack of cute comments on the picture we posted in our best dress, or a relatable reel that you notice your friend has liked but not sent to you (how dare they enjoy it by themselves!).

It seems so inconsequential at first, but it gets worse. That gnawing feeling when two of your friends go out without you and post something very sweet together, that fear of missing out, being left alone, being perceived as "not part of the friend group" by their followers just because you are not there in one group picture.

Is it really that important to be ingrained in someone's digital footprint to feel like a real friend?

I think I need to reevaluate my dependence on social media to define my friendships.

I need to stop using social interaction as a template for measuring effort. And more importantly, I should understand that friendship means more than a tag on a post with a few emoticons.

It's more than reacting to memes or reels in a specific way. It's about effort, meaningful conversation, about creating a safe space where your opinions on the stuff that actually matters are respected, and you in turn view their opinions with great value.

So, while this mindset shift may take some time (I'll thank years of conditioning for that), I now do try to keep in mind the fact that some friendships are just like a red rose growing out of ice-frozen ground, in the middle of the forest, with no one around to tweet it.

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