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Image / Editorial

Breadcrumbing: Are you doing it to your friends?


by Jennifer McShane
09th May 2019

How many times a week do you actually make time to physically meet your friends? Or how many times a month do you send the obligatory message and WhatsApp promising overdue drinks in a week, only to find it never becomes a reality? The latter has sadly become commonplace in a society where we’re glued to our phones instead of actually conversing with other people.

In fact, it’s almost something I wish I’d been taught at school, “how to keep in touch with friends IRL.” But we don’t do this as much as we should. We leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs – texts, WhatsApp messages, emails – promising the earth and more often than not, this amounts to meeting hardly anyone and The Guilt that comes when you realise you’ve not seen a former best friend in six months.

“Breadcrumbing” is friendship buzzword and one I’m reading more about of late –  this act of dropping enticing little digital “breadcrumbs” in order to make sure that the breadcrumber in question remains on the radar of the breadcrumbee. According to Refinery 29, it’s a by-product of low self-esteem, yet something everybody does.

Low self-esteem

“It’s low self-esteem,” explained Dr Max Blumberg, Psychology Researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London. “It’s ‘I need my self-esteem stroked by people wanting to follow up and see me.'” And of course, the problem is all this back and forth and false promising means someone’s going to end up hurt. “The one with the lower self-esteem is going to feel worse if the other person doesn’t come back to them because they need those ‘strokes’ from the other person to convince them that they are worthwhile.”

Is it that social media presence has evolved into nothing but self-promoting and personal brands? Or is it that we’re just using perceived friendships to make ourselves feel better and increase our “likes”? Not entirely, says Blumberg but our constant networking has led us to need that we feel we need to keep stoking the fire; we need to keep breadcrumbing.

And the answer to solving this “breadcrumbing” dilemma is an obvious one, less social media, more IRL interaction. In a world where we’re asked to be in constant contact with everyone, it’s worth reaching out to those that mean the most, and knowing that they are the plans and people you really want in your life.

Main photograph: Pexels

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