From Pen Pals to Instagram DM’s: The Growth of Long Distance Success Rates?

I think one thing that is really amazing about social media is that it gives the ability to connect and reconnect. My mum found childhood friends through Facebook. My family members are better able to stay in contact with distant relatives. But could it be the pen pal replacement as well?

brown paper envelope on table

Photo by John-Mark Smith on

Before I had social media, I had these great friends in the sixth grade. In the seventh grade I started at a new school, in a different town than all those friends. I really let our friendships disappear. I was thirteen, and it’s not unusual to move on at that age. While I do have them on social media now, I think we would have been able to maintain our friendships better if we had had social media at the time. Potentially it wouldn’t have changed anything anyways, because at thirteen you aren’t really mature enough to think about the future of your friendships without the help of your parents.

But in university I saw that social media was a great resource in long distance friendship. At the time I was in Halifax at Dalhousie, and one of my high school friend’s was here, in Ottawa at Carleton. Though we hadn’t been the closest of friends in high school, social media helped rekindle our friendship. I was going through a rough time, and later transferred to Toronto, but I was able to reach out to Sara, my friend, over social media. Even though it started just casually messaging one another on Facebook, we actually managed to become even closer friends when we were hundreds of kilometres from one another. We continued to maintain a close friendship through another two years of university, living in different cities.

three people using smartphones

Photo by on

I don’t think social media quite has the charm of a handwritten letter, but it is a lot easier to maintain. I have tried to make my friends communicate with me via Canada Post, but they have no interest in snail mail, like I do. Now living back in the Ottawa area, I used social media to keep up with the friends I made in Halifax.

It might seem less personal, but simply keeping someone present on social media, will remind you to maintain your friendship. They post a photo of themselves, and you immediately message them to see how they are. So while it may seem impersonal, through a computer screen or phone, there may be a better return on investment than trying to correspond as pen pals. I believe long distance friendships are more successful thanks to social media. Though I doubt I could say the same for romantic relationships…

What do you guys think? Have you ever had a pen pal? Did you stay in touch?

Do you think social media has helped you maintain long distance friendships?

Facebook: Is the Pen Pal era over? Read more here!

Twitter: Has social media saved your friendship? Click here!

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