I have fallen victim to social media envy on more than one occasion. There, I said it, I'm a bitter, twisted, envying billy no mates. I didn't used to be, there was a time when I had a large circle of friends and my home was a buzzing social hub. Then I moved away from London at a time my son was of an age that I wasn't going to make any new friends through him.
If you remember the American sitcom 'Cheers', from the 80's and 90's, you'll know what I mean when I say I do have a place to go 'where everyone knows your name'. But it just ain't the same anymore. My home isn't filled with children running about causing chaos while I sip on a...well....chug a pint of beer with me mates.
So this is when the social media envy kicked in. Especially now during holiday and wedding season. All the photos of people sharing those special moments, surrounded by friends and family; people living 'normal' lives, doing 'normal' things. None of which I ever do. But then it struck me, having friends means being invited to 'do' things that cost money, lots of money.
These days hen and stag nights are no longer 'nights', but short breaks. Hens boating along the river in Cambridge, stags flying off to Prague for a long weekend of drinking cheap beer; Ayia Napa, Ibiza, and Amsterdam, to name but a few popular destinations. Then there's the cost of being a wedding guest; new outfit, pressie, travel etc... and heaven forbid you're asked to be a bridesmaid and you have to actually work with bridezilla for your supper. If you're chief bridesmaid you'll probably be asked to be a Godparent as well, more expense, and the pressure of not forgetting that birthday every year, and Christmas presents. I dated a guy once who was so lovely that he was Godparent to more children than you could imagine; I did not feel envy when I saw how many presents he had to buy and wrap at Christmas.
I have a very tight budget, not much in the way of money for 'extras', so on reflection I don't think I'd like to go for a meal with a bunch of friends. I can picture the scenario, I order the cheapest item on the menu and pretend I'm on a health kick as I 'enjoy' my iced tap water. The bill arrives, and the prosecco drinking girlies, who have no idea what it's like to be poor, decide it would be easier for everyone if the bill is split between us. To be honest, if I did have friends they wouldn't be like that, but you know what I'm getting at.
When Facebook decides to present you with a little slideshow of your year/month/season with your buddies, there are only ever photos of me, on my own. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I need to remember friendship comes at a price. At Christmas I buy for four people, my son, my boss, my colleague, and the six year old son of a friend. Most of them get something from the charity shop; a £1 hardback book in excellent, clean condition; a nice shiny, unchipped piggy bank; a bracelet, that to be honest could have done with a wee wash in soapy water to get rid of that musty, rusty smell that accompanies cheap old jewellery, and a tie that I didn't notice was a bit wide and more suited to the 70's. There was even enough money to buy a string of advent pockets that I decided to get and keep for my non-existent grandchildren.
Yes, I know, friendship isn't all about the money. But when you're a penny pinching tightwad like me, it's a bit of a deal breaker. I also do have a habit of attracting the wrong people as well, a story for another time, but that has had a significant enough impact to put me off making new friends for life. I like my friends at arm's length with no chance of financial burden. How do you like yours?