“A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway“. Fr. Jerome Cummings
With that said, I found myself asking the following questions: How well do we REALLY know our friends whom we have been connected to only through social media channels for the past months or even years? Can strong, real and long-term friendships be maintained only through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter? What is the cost we are paying for compromising the sincerity of our friendships my limiting them to brief, limited interactions over the web?
What are friendships, anyway?
As Wikipedia states: a friendships is “a relatively long-term association between two or more people. This association may be based on emotions like love and liking, regular business interactions, or some other type of social commitment.”
Therefore, if a friendship needs the element of time as an essential part of its broad meaning, then there should be some kind of distinction between the quality and value of time rather than its actual duration!
Accordingly, I must strongly stress the fact that valuable and quality time, at least the way I see it, is spent through sharing experiences, face-to-face conversations and adventures carried out together.
Social media maintained friendships have a different meaning!
Speaking from my own personal experience, and taking some stories I’ve heard from a few “friends” into account, it seems to me that friendships maintained over social media take on the following forms of interaction:
- The Occasional Poke: Facebook people are smart! They thought about everything when designing their unique platform up to the tiniest detail! Thus, if you want to show someone that you remember them or want to grab their attention yet don’t feel like writing them anything in specific, you have the poke feature! And the pokes keep going back and forth!
- The “Thoughtful” Like: You read a friend’s note or saw a new picture of him or her updated on your wall feed. You are busy, and again, you have nothing to comment, so you just click the “like” feature and viola, you have established contact!
- The Mass Updates: Something new is going on in your life, you would like to spread the news! What do you do? Call your friends? You’re too busy for that and you probably want to save messaging costs! So you simply update your status or send a mass message to everyone’s inbox!
- The Weekly Mentions: You are an active Twitter user and you heavily rely on it for your business. But what about your friends who are following you there? Well, the new trend is blessing them with a retweet every now and then or mentioning their names in your #FollowFriday routine! (Now Facebook is using something similar to Twitter mentions: status update tags).
- The Mixed Shares: Your time is valuable and you really don’t have time to read and forward the many fun e-mails you receive to your friends. What do you do? While you are surfing different bookmarking sites, you simply choose a few articles that might interest your friends and send them links every now and then!
What happened to real friendship?
I have a feeling that once social media came through the door, real solid friendships jumped out the window, and sadly, never returned! This is very depressing to me, especially since I am one of those who actually claim to be a “good” friend and always insist on face-to-face communication and regular interactions.
Finally, how can we make things better? Well, the first step would be to try to get rid of our social media addiction, if it exists! Otherwise, I think we should try to remember how we used to interact with our friends in the pre-social media age and try to reapply it now!
How about you? Do you think social media is enough for maintaining friendships? Do you have any suggestions on how to enhance and improve the quality of our friendships?
Looking forward for your feedback on this topic right below or through Twitter :)