Do you guys ever have that feeling, like when you show up at a party and all of your friends are talking and laughing and having a good time and then as soon as you walk inside it’s like you can hear someone whisper, “Shh, he’s right there,” and then someone else whispers, “What? Who told him we were having a party?” and someone else says, “I didn’t know, he was behind me at lunch, and we were talking about the party and it just kind of slipped out and, what was I supposed to say?” and then the first person goes, “I don’t know, a fake address?” and then when you start saying hi to everyone, the room gets really quiet and all that laughter that you heard when you were walking in has totally died down and nobody wants to tell you what everyone was just laughing at before?
It’s probably all in your head. That’s what you tell yourself anyway as you try unsuccessfully to fall asleep at night. But is it? Because why wouldn’t they have invited you to that party? And when you ran into Pete and Hassan waiting on line at lunch, did they give you the wrong location on purpose? Sure, you found them eventually, but wasn’t it a little weird that nobody answered any of your texts or calls? Maybe it is all in your head. Or maybe nobody likes you. How do you figure it out? Here’s how:
1. Just be an adult and ask them.
Sometimes there’s nothing more effective than some direct, open communication. Because come on, we’re all adults here, right? If anybody has a problem with you, or anyone else, there’s no sense in letting all of this passive aggressive drama play out in your head. If you want to know if your friends are talking shit behind your back, you’ve got to ask them.
Tell all of your friends that you have something you’d like to say to them. Gather them all together in one central location, preferably at a safe place somewhere in neutral territory, like a church, or the food court at a Costco. After you’re done with the pleasantries, get right to the point. Say something like, “I feel like I’ve been getting some bad vibes from all of you, and I’m just wondering if anybody has anything they’d like to say to me.” If nobody bites, go around to each friend, pointing out individually how you feel like you’ve been slighted and not included. Get specific. Take notes for a while beforehand and present your evidence while you have everyone in one place. It might seem harsh, and maybe even a little over the top, but trust me, it has something to do with sunlight being the best disinfectant, and everyone will appreciate your no-nonsense approach.
2. Get access to a cell phone.
Yes, most of your friends probably have password protection enabled on their smartphones. But have you ever watched people as they tap in their four-digit codes? It’s not like they’re trying to hide it from anyone. Just pay attention to your friends as they unlock their devices. Once you’re confident that you’ve mentally recorded someone’s access, you’ve got to follow him or her around for a while until they leave their phone unattended, even if only for a couple of minutes.
I like to hang out by the library and wait for someone to take a bathroom break. A lot of people pack up their stuff every time they step away, but if you spend enough time, you’re liable to catch someone walk away from their unattended phone at least once or twice. Unlock the phone, and send a text message to another one of your friends, something like, “Can you believe Rob showed up at the party?” and if that friend responds with something like, “I know, right?” then you’ll know that everyone was talking about you behind your back. Delete the conversation to cover your tracks. In fact, go to the settings menu, and block all further texts from that friend’s number, just in case he or she sends any weird follow-up texts that might give away your snooping.
3. Host your own party.
Get a keg, hook up your XBOX to one of those giant projection screens, see if you can rent a really expensive karaoke machine: plan a party so cool that anybody would be crazy to stay home, even if they do hate you. Set it up weeks in advance. Make a Facebook invite and keep sending reminders multiple times a day.
If your friends don’t show up, mission accomplished, they all hate you and now you know for sure. If they do show up, it still doesn’t mean that they like you, it only means that you threw a really great party. They might still hate you without feeling at all bad about taking advantage of all of the free booze you bought. What you need to do is wait a month, and then send out an invite to another party. This time only buy a few bags of chips and maybe a six-pack or two. In fact, advertise it as BYOB. If no one shows up, there’s your answer, nobody likes you. That’s OK though, throw another party, advertise it as being huge, like the first one, only put the address down at one of those abandoned factories on the outskirts of the bad part of town. Plant some drugs, and when everyone shows up, call the cops.
4. Get a new group of friends and make your old friends really jealous.
Why are you hanging out with such jerks anyway? You should find an entirely new set of friends, people who actually want to hang out with you. There are so many more cool people out there. All you have to do is get involved in some new activities, like one of those co-ed after-work kickball teams, or try taking a painting class or something, and then start seeing if people want to hang out with you afterward. Everyone’s looking to make friends, so I can guarantee that, if you’re willing to put yourself out there, you’ll definitely have a new group of friends in no time.
And that’s when you can show them off to your old group of friends, those losers, you should really rub it in just how cool you all are, how much fun you’re all having together. Treat your new group of friends really well. Buy them all sorts of expensive presents. Take them out to dinner. Pick up the tab at the end of the night. Make you sure you take tons of pictures highlighting all of the evidence. Then put it all over social media, with captions like, “It’s so refreshing to finally have some decent friends! Not like those losers I used to hang out with!” Your old friends will be eaten alive with jealousy. I bet you they’ll be begging to have you back by the end of the week. Tell them you’ll think about it. But then never get back to them. Just sort of drag them along indefinitely, constantly showing off how much more fun you’re having with your new crew.
5. Pretend to get really sick.
It worked for Tom Sawyer. What better way to get your friends and relatives to show how they really feel about you than to fake your own death? Well, it was probably a lot easier to get away with pretending to be dead back in the 1800s. You can’t just spread a rumor about being dead without getting the cops involved, and they’ll probably want to see a body and do an autopsy. But what’s preventing you from telling your friends that you’re about to die really soon? Just fake sick.
I’m talking really sick here. You want to make everyone think that your life is in actual danger. See if you can get hospitalized, even if only for the weekend. I’ve only done this once before, and without any health insurance, it wound up being a costly option that I’d only recommend if you’re really serious about showing your friends what’s what. As you lie there in your hospital bed, sending out Facebook updates and hospital selfies about how this is the end, your friends are totally going to stop being such dicks, if only to give you a heartfelt farewell. And once they’re by your bedside, they’ll be so overwhelmed with emotion, the guilt of having treated you so poorly. They’ll start crying and apologizing, begging for forgiveness. And that’s when you can start accepting their apologies. Not only that, but you can start faking a miraculous recovery, make it something about the power of their sincere words, and your being a bigger person and accepting their apologies, despite all of the petty nastiness, it’ll be enough to transcend your terminal disease. And when you get out, everyone will be so happy that you’re alive. No one will ever talk shit about you behind your back or give you a fake address to a party or not include you in any group activities ever again.