Most of my friends are non-existent

A lot of yours are too. Hm, you must be thinking, this girl must be very lonely if she is trying to bring her readers down to the pits of anguish with her. Believe what you may, but I am going to share with you what I discovered on a rare sunny day in Glasgow.

I often converse with my friends in my head, imagining their responses in a way that I know corresponds with their personality. While the fantastical internet allows for immediate connection with anyone across the globe, the brevity of communication that is now the norm saddens me. Due to instant messaging, the days of long, rambling emails and an excited wait for the reply are gone (not to mention letters). Instead, we talk in conversation-like snippets resembling sentences, which are great for regular correspondence, but not so great when neither party puts in an effort to maintain the conversation. It’s as if our attention span sizzles out after a few messages, and similarly, our politeness goes too. We don’t mind reading messages and not replying for three weeks – we were busy, and it doesn’t really matter (I’m not innocent of this). So for me, keeping in touch with friends over the internet is like walking a chicken on a leash – in theory it sounds great, but realistically things tend to go awry. (I would love to write letters to my friends but the only people responsive to this are my parents and grandma…see a trend here?)

So, most of my friendships are maintained mentally. But there’s a catch here: the people I imagine my friends to be no longer exist. The image I have of them is from a very specific point in time, when I was physically last with them. But people go through continuous transformations throughout their lives, and every second leaves them changed, different. But because my imagination isn’t able to comprehend the infinite ways of the universe and how these mysteries mould those I know, I cling to the friend I once knew. My friends and lovers will always be the person I knew them to be with me. These people are as alive as the dead writers whose words I savour. As real as I want them to be.

But wait! Before you electrocute yourself with your laptop in the bathtub because you just realised that your friends are all imaginary, let me finish. It isn’t a bad thing that you don’t really know what your friends are like today – in fact, it’s wonderful! Because next time you meet them, you will learn so many interesting, new things about them and marvel at how the universe has transformed your friend into an even cooler version of themselves. If weren’t unceasingly learning and growing, how dull we would all be. So I’ll continue to consult, confess to and laugh with my ghost-friends, and when I finally see them again, it will be an adventure to learn about the people they’ve become. In the meantime, if you see me sitting in the botanic gardens by myself, having an animated conversation with the air, you’ll know who I’m talking to.

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