The toxic friend lurks among your best friends. They belittle your problems and somehow make you feel inferior in times of achievement. The toxic friend uses social media to throw unwarranted shade only to show all sunny and smiling at your lunch date. They exist outside of high school and you need to do the adult thing and confront them.
A couple of months ago a few of my close friends came up to me talking about how one of our friends was a bit of a poisoned apple. There was an incident where she threw chopsticks at another friend. Several instances involved her fueling feuds by telling different versions of the same story to our circle of friends. It was bad. As we went through every scenario and pieced together our perspectives to find that it all led back to how this one friend wasn’t being true, steps had to be taken.
My other friends chose the confrontational route. It was healthy even if it was hard and messy but it was the mature thing to do. A few “Unfriend” buttons were clicked here and there. Other than that, everyone just moved on and still wished each other well.
It was all okay until another incident popped up. It was a status that was deemed as an attack to one of my close friends. Ruthless tagging ensued along with comments from other people who were knowledgable of the context. You could see how the comments section reflected how sides were taken and sick burns were used in replace of clear conversations. The attacked party chose to settle and back down a bit a day later. It was no use as more things could be said that would deviate from the situation.
But things weren’t fully resolved. Shade was still looming over our little social media sphere. As someone who wasn’t in the direct line of fire, it was hard to watch from the sidelines. I reached out to my friend the old school way: making phone calls. I had asked her if it would be okay if called her attacker to get the other side of the story. Unlike certain people who make headlines these days, one must not settle to know their side, declare it infalliably correct, and call it day. When I got the okay to be a mediator of a sort, I reached out and called the person whose damning tweet caused a sh*tstorm.
She explained her side and I told her that she could have reached out to any of us if she really didn’t mean it the way it was taken. I told her directly and calmly what the other side felt, what her words seemed to do, and how ugly things could have been avoided. While mainting a calm demeanor, I had to tell her that this high school style of making “parining” wasn’t cool anymore. What I got was a more positive response than anticipated. Things cleared up and in the spirit of always doing right, I told her that I was still open to listen to her anytime something of a similar nature happened.
Right now it feels like the end scene of Mean Girls where Cady reflects on how every thing that happened prior didn’t seem to matter compared to the peace they were currently enjoying. How to confront the toxic friend? It’s not about eliminating the friend per se. It’s about getting all those toxins out.
Art by Lara Intong
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