Invisible Threads: The Quiet Strength of Friendship
Friends in the real world, and Threads online.
A friend who I’ve known for forty years came to visit me this week. Leanna and I talk all the time online, but we haven’t seen each other in person since 2009. We first met in the 6th grade, bonding over a mutual love of Duran Duran, and I feel so grateful that we are still in each other’s lives today.
It was a mellow visit for us, with a lot less booze, and more conversation about our various ailments than either of us ever imagined we’d one day be doing. We did things you only ever do when people are in town, like go to the top of the Prudential tower to see the view.
Leanna came to visit me at a time when having a dear friend is extra meaningful, during a time when things in my life are not as smooth as I might like them to be. Sometimes just having the presence of someone who cares about you sitting a few feet away on the couch watching mediocre movies with you is the kind of thing you need most.
I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately, and the importance of people in my life. I am so lucky to be surrounded by amazing people who enrich my life in so many ways.
Over the years, I’ve cultivated incredible friendships within the writing community. I have stayed in touch with others, like Leanna, whom I’ve known for decades, from grade school, college, and past jobs. Some of my dearest friends are all around the world, living in places I hope to visit someday. My friendships have often bloomed in ways unexpected—my longtime Italian tutor has become one of my besties, and I love getting on the phone to talk to my agent to talk not just about books but life. One of my high school friends (who has always shared my love of literature) just sent me a book about Rome because he thought I would like it. A barfly friend and I have been slacking each other ridiculous things for years now. A writing slack channel I’m in has deepened many of my author friendships as we bond over the messed up publishing world (if you want to understand what I mean by that, pick up Yellowface by R.F. Kuang). And, one of my previous posts described my recent trip to the Historical Novel Society Conference, where I met with longtime friends and made a few new ones.
When I stop to think about all the people that touch the edges of my life in such meaningful ways, I feel somewhat overwhelmed. And incredibly fortunate.
Some of you know that I also work in social media. Well, last week, Meta launched Threads, a competitor to Twitter. And look what happened:
But that was just in the first hour. Then it broke records for the fastest-growing technology app ever, adding over 100 million users in the first five days. For context, the most popular app out there, TikTok, had 102 million active users in May.
How did Threads do this when Twitter rivals Mastodon, BlueSky, Tribel, Post, Hive, CounterSocial, (and even Substack Notes) could not? Hint: It’s not because of the pissing match between Musk and Zuck.
It’s because of friends.
Starting a new social channel is really tough because the majority of people aren’t excited about jumping into random conversations to make friends, especially now that we’ve become rather jaded with the existing social channels. And that’s the beauty of Threads—your Instagram friends are already there. We’ve been anxious to have a better way to connect than the existing channels, but we don’t want the work to get all our friends on board. Hence the wild adoption of Threads.
Threads is still in its early stages. Because I know you may ask (or complain), know that Meta is planning on better management of your feed, on importing all your Instagram blocks over so you don’t have to reblock people, and on connecting up with the Fediverse, which means that you can easily connect to people all over other parts of the Internet, like Mastodon and Tumblr, all without leaving the app.
And while I’m not really a fan of giving so much attention to the second least annoying billionaire out there, I am really heartened to see such adoption, because it speaks to what matters (to most) humans, that of being connected to each other. We don’t want to see political ridiculousness, have to sift through disinformation posts from foreign trolls or deal with hate speech and awfulness.
Most people want to connect over much better things. For me, it’s books, Italy, food, ancient Rome, mythology, travel, cats, video games, adorable animal videos, and I can tell you that I don’t easily find them on Twitter anymore. But I’m finding them on Threads. If you want to find me there, look for crystallyn14.threads.net
Who knows how long this honeymoon will last, but heck, I’ll take it for at least a little bit.
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What’s Bringing Me Joy This Week:
I love these tiny little spaces made from walnuts.
I was at the Harvard Art Museums this last week, which is where I first met my husband 23 years ago (on the steps of the Fogg Art Museum). On that fateful day, the museum had on display all of their dozens of Bernini terracotta models that he made when planning on sculpting them for the Ponte Sant’Angelo. They only have a few on display right now, but it made me tear up to see them.
And here’s the one on the bridge (a copy…they’ve moved the original to the Sant'Andrea delle Fratte church to protect it from the elements).
This is my absolute favorite salad—a cherry caprese bowl of deliciousness.