Setting the scene: you log onto Facebook and notice that one of your best friends has just updated their photo album with new pics from the weekend. You laugh at the first couple of photos as you see some fun shots of your friend. Then it happens. You see some other people in the photos that you don’t recognize. It appears that your friend has had a party and YOU WERE NOT INVITED! Your initial reaction is hurt, then bitterness and finally you boil over in an all out rage. “How could she do this to me?” “Why is he hanging out with friends that I don’t know about?”
Social media isolation is becoming a real problem, especially with teenagers and college students. The concept of what a friend is like is becoming blurred by the constant connection with others. When I was in high school I had a handful of friends that I hung around with. We played basketball and soccer at lunch, we worked on projects together and for the most part we knew what was going on with our lives. What we didn’t know was what each friend was doing every moment of every day and with whom. There was still a sense of privacy and that privacy kept the relationships intact.
That’s not happening anymore. Jealousy, envy and competition creeps into friendships because we can always see what other people are doing. It creates a sense of dependence and unhealthy attachment. A recent study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin  shows that people become more depressed and dejected after viewing their friends’ Facebook profiles. This is because many people mask the hurt in their lives by showing themselves as happy and loving life when in fact they are not doing well at all.
Here’s a few thoughts on what to do if you feel left out by friends.
1. Talk to someone you trust
The worst thing you can do is keep it all inside and let it boil up. Talk to someone older that you can trust will keep things confidential and understand your situation. This person might be an elder, an elder’s wife, a youth leader or pastor. It might also be your parents or a professional counselor. The main thing is to get help and not allow it to grow. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” You are only hurting yourself if you hold onto jealousy and bitterness.
2. Don’t control friends
Some people enjoy lots of friends casually and others have only a few close friends. I have always had many friends and enjoy being around people. When it comes to social media, allow your friends to engage with others. Don’t try to manipulate them into being your “best friend”. Understand what each friend can gain out of the relationship and don’t try to push it further. I realize this can be difficult for some people, but if you feel these emotions, then go back to point #1 and talk it out.
3. Stay connected in real life
If your best friends are local then unplug from the internet and do something fun. Just enjoy spending time with your friends and not your phone or computer. It’s not a competition to out-do others but simply to connect face to face. Margie Warrell writes, “A night at home with 500 of your FB friends can never compare with an evening out with five friends, or even one friend. ”  Another good way to connect with others is to regularly attend a social group that will help you grow in the Lord. This could be a youth group, college and careers group, Christian sports league etc.
4. Talk it over with your friends
If you feel hurt by a friend, the Bible tells us to make efforts to resolve it. Matthew 18:15 says, “15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” The goal is to win them back. Be patient, gracious and forgiving and seek with love and compassion to express your feelings. It may be that the friend had no intentions at all of causing hurt. Give them the benefit of the doubt and believe them when they tell you how they feel.
5. Be prepared to move on
It’s possible that a friend has found other people they enjoy being with and have no intentions of continuing a close relationship with you. This is very difficult and painful. How should you react? My first thought is to think of the Lord Jesus. There was no one more rejected that He was. He was rejected by His own people, betrayed by a friend, abandoned by His disciples and nailed to a cross. Yet in all of that He never once fought back, sought revenge or hated them. The apostle Paul in Galatians 1:10 gives us the correct perspective on this situation. “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Our allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people will fail us, but He will never fail us. Friends will come and go, but He will always be by our side.
I know this topic spills over into many areas of relationships but the increase use of social media is bringing these topics to a great awareness. Seek the Lord, find your value only in Him and respond to situations as Jesus would want you to. It’s only by His help that we can.