Social Poaching: Awkward All Around

Last night, I pulled up to a house I have a million times before, anxiously anticipating hanging out with my two best friends ever . You know the kind of friends I mean: We had sleepovers complete with Spice Girls’ dance parties in middle school as we sported our bell bottoms & Skechers, played spin the bottle in junior high with cute, spiky-haired 8th grade boys who listened to NOFX, and experienced a whole plethora of good/illegal/potentially lethal times in high school. These girls knew me (and stayed my friend) when I saw CREED in concert. Enough said.

So, i walked in to see my two best friends, paired up in beer pong against the dude who owned the house and someone I’ll call M. When we first met sophomore year of high school, I was fascinated by M. She was ridiculously cool, had good taste in music & the most unique style I’d ever seen. We became instant friends and I thought she would be a perfect addition to the friendship triangle. Hell, If she liked Britney Spears and gangster rap as much as we did, she was IN.

So, I brought her around a few times, giving her a chance to “test the waters” of our crazy group of friends. I was excited when she was able to hold her own in conversations. I was pretty happy (albeit, a little confused) when she started to use the nicknames we made up for each other at recess when addressing us in conversation. I loved that I could borrow her super-cute clothes. And then, something I should have totally seen coming but didn’t happened.

She stole my friends.

Slowly but surely, M was included in all of our plans. She stopped calling me when she wanted to hang out. She made plans with MY best friends – without me – and “forgot” to invite me. The best friends acted nonchalant because – what? YOU were the one who liked her, remember? Yeah. I had liked her when she was HER, not a cheap immitation of me. I was upset, jealous and confused. Who the hell did this girl think she was?

I was experiencing first-hand what the chicks over at Jezebel are calling “Social Poaching” – when a seemingly innocent woman blatantly & recklessly scours your social network for new friends & romantic partners, and then, snatches them away from you.

Obvi, there is a difference between simply meeting someone through someone else and the evil that is social poaching. Basically, a social poacher wants to be friends with your friends instantly AND she wants to take your place, or somehow “one-up” you in your social circle. She uses you to meet your friends and then — forgets you exist.

Now, I don’t know if it’s just ‘cause I’m gonna be a big and bad 22 year old in a few months, but I have noticed the frailty – and also the importance – of good friendships so much more lately. The older I get, the more “picky” I get when it comes to choosing friends because I’m trying to pick ones that will last — and not replace me with any other girl who will accompany them singing “Hit Me Baby” on karaoke night.

But we all must admit that the term “friendship” is a little blurred these days. With social-networking sites like MySpace & Facebook that make it so (perhaps, too?) easy to make new friends and casually keep in touch with old ones, it seems like we are getting lazy when it comes to creating true, meaningful friendships. Social poachers are perhaps just among the laziest of us all.

I was devastated when I started to notice Miss M taking my place. How/why/when did she develop inside jokes with MY friends? How long was this bullsh*t going to last? And where did she get that really cute top, that stupid b*tch?!

Well, let’s just say it lasted. Along the way, though, Miss M managed to steal not only my best friends, but also my ex-boyfriend. And, what’s worse, my friends are still (on-and-off) friends with her. I’m away at school and they’re not, so I kind of forgive them. But it hasn’t been fun. Or easy. Or without it’s awkward moments at parties.

Social poaching can obviously cause hurt feelings and breed contempt in any social circle. Adding new people to the mix is always tricky, but social poachers take this awkwardness to the extreme for all parties involved.

M wasn’t the first case of social poaching I’ve witnessed, either. For whatever reason, I am like a magnet for girls who simply want to use me for my super fun and hot friends (and boyfriends, apparently). Now that I’m aware of this fact, though, I’m going to screen my friends a little better…and remember that just because someone has a certain fervor for belting out B. Spears lyrics does not necessarily make her a suitable addition to my crew.

[ photo from www.addiction-guild.com ]

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