The Military Spouse’s Guide to Making Friends in a Social Media World
Making friends in a social media world should make things easier, right? I mean, we can talk to anyone at any time. If we wanted to find a friend who loves Doctor Who and lives in Kentucky, it would take us a couple of minutes to find a place to look for someone who fits that description. There are groups, communities, and pages for almost any type of topic.
So why is it still so hard to make friends? Why do we feel so alone when moving to our next duty station? Why is there so much drama when it comes to the military spouse community?
Social media can be such a blessing for us military spouses. Social media allows us to talk to others at our future duty stations, stay connected to friends who have moved far away, and share photos and our lives with our family and friends back at home.
However, social media can also cause us to stay in our homes when we should be pushing ourselves for more in-person connections. Social media can also make us feel less than, as we tend to compare our full stories to everyone else’s highlight reel. Bullying is a lot easier to do online, as people can hide behind their phones and their computers.
So what is a military spouse to do when trying to find connections in this life?
Here are some ideas:
Use social media to help you find in-person events
Make sure of social media to find in-person events at your duty station. You can look for one time events such as a 5K, an MWR event, or something going on at the local library. You can also look for meetings and clubs that happen a couple times a month, or even weekly. Look for your local MOPS group, a book club, a running club, or a playgroup. In some cases, you can join a Facebook group, introduce yourself, and ask questions before you attend your first meeting.
Reach out but with caution
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you meet in your local group or in person. But also, make sure to use caution. Not everyone is who they appear to be online. If you meet up with someone you met online, make sure to always do so in a public place and tell someone where you are going. You also don’t have to become friends with everyone you meet. Some people are better acquaintances while others will turn into best friends.
Don’t be afraid to start something new
If you can’t find the right group at your duty station, think about starting your own. There are probably other spouses in your area who are into what you are into too. Make a plan, post about it in your local Facebook group, and don’t be afraid to try more than once if the plan doesn’t work out at first. Sometimes new groups take a while to grow, but they can be the right answer when you are looking for friends you have something in common with.
Stay away from the drama, as much as you can
While you can’t stay away from drama 100%, you can make sure you are not looking for it or adding to it. Calling people names, bullying them online, and not showing kindness most of the time will cause you to be involved in more drama that you should be. Your life doesn’t have to involve that much drama, it really doesn’t.
Be real with your social media posts
Sometimes I wish we could all agree to be more real in our social media posts. Sometimes we only share things when life is going well. We only talk about when we moved into a big beautiful house, not how hard it was to save for the downpayment. We talk about how much we love our husband, but we don’t talk about how hard marriage can sometimes be. We talk about the homecoming and don’t mention that we too had too many nights when they were gone when we just didn’t think we could make it another day.
Don’t share everything
As much as being real on social media is a good idea, we also should make sure we are not oversharing everything. We can share that we are struggling without every single detail. And some conversations are better for private messages or in person get-togethers.
If we use social media to bash other people, that will make others be wary of befriending us. We don’t want to end up being a future post on your timeline. This also applies to Facebook groups as none of them are going to be as private as you think they are.
Don’t give up
Whatever you do, don’t give up on finding friends. Don’t just shut yourself up in your house with the excuse that everyone around you sucks. I don’t think that is true; you just haven’t found your people yet. If your friends have all just moved away, you might also feel like it would be too hard to try again, but if you do, you will find there are new friendships to make, and new people to meet.
Always remember OPSEC and PERSEC
Whenever you are on social media, make sure you are always thinking about OPSEC and PERSEC. You don’t want to share information that could be used by the enemy. You don’t want to share specific dates and locations or too much info about your service member. Always lean on the side of not sharing if you are not sure as that will never get you in trouble.
Finding friendships with other military spouses is a must. They can help you through the more difficult of times and allow you to have a much better experience at your duty station. Finding new friends isn’t always eat, but doing so is worth putting in the effort to find them, whether you do so on or offline.
Where do you like to find friends at your duty station?