When I was a kid there was no social media (I am aging myself here I know). We didn’t spend any time on computers or cell phones, and the last thing that we wanted to do was be alone, make video’s or take pictures of ourselves, for several reasons. My parents were always complaining that I wanted to be out all the time or that I wanted friends at our house all the time. I did nothing alone; I was always with my friends and asking to spend more time with them.
We would get into all sorts of things, like riding bikes, hanging out in the parks, pit parties, fairs and battle of the band’s competition – some of my friends within a band and they competed with others often. We had sleep overs every weekend and when we were not together, we were talking on the phone. I knew them inside and out. I knew their siblings. I knew their parents and for most of them I knew their extended family. We were each others lives, and we were there for all the important things like, our first kisses, our graduations, and the passing of loved ones and friends. Being there was what it was to be a friend.
Being a friend started to change with Facebook, now I could be friends with my friends without being physically there. I was using Myspace (I know aging myself again) but Facebook was much cooler. To be honest I don’t remember much about Myspace other then I had an account and if I google my name my, Myspace profile picture comes up.
Facebook was better and I abandoned Myspace to create a Facebook page right away. I loved it! I could connect with all my friends from high school that I hadn’t seen since going away to university. It was great! We could still be involved in everyone’s lives, know what was going on and still be there for each other in times of need. When a friend needed me, I could find out or know from the interactions that we were having on Facebook, and I could jump in my car and be there. An example of this is the passing of a parent. This is a crazy hard time, and those phone calls were always super hard to make, but on Facebook you can post in one hard post containing the details that you want to share and let everyone know. Of course, I could now jump in my car and be sure to be there for my friend.
Over the years this trend has become more and more common, and the term friend has become looser and looser. Now your friend isn’t the person that knows you, your family and has been there physically for the important events in your life. These are people that you may have never met in person. These are people who may have never met your parents and will not be there at your family hardships. In the article: “What is the nature of friendship in an era of Facebook? An opinion”, written by Scott Berkun he discusses the ways that he feels Facebook has added value, and diminished friendships.
I have seen some wonderful things because of the ability to connect over social media platforms. Starbuck even made it possible to Tweet Coffee to your friends, advertised on Eater. My son has been able to maintain relationships with school friends when they or we have moved. They meet on their gaming platforms and play games just as they would have if they were in the same room. I have been able to maintain strong relationships with my nieces and nephews over the last two years of the pandemic with video chats and sharing photos over Facebook and Facebook messenger. I have also seen my daughter hurt by people that she thought that she knew on these platforms. She tells me stories of people that she feels she knows and only finds out that their real intentions were not honest or forthcoming.
Where I was out all the time my children are home all the time. They don’t have friends over all the time. I don’t know her friends and her friends’ families as my parents did. I don’t have the same confidence that the place she is going and the people that she is spending time with are safe when
she does leave the house. I have concerns that she might not be able to navigate a world where physical relationships are needed. She has social anxiety and feels stress for in person inactions she seems to be by herself all the time to me, but to her she is always connecting with her friends, and they know each other well. She feels supported and not solitary, but I miss my friends so maybe it generational.
What are your thoughts?
- Are we losing something of great value with the movement from physical interactions?
- Are we losing something in the meaning of “Friendship” when we look Instagram is now providing a feature for “close friends” to keep their stories private?
Facebook Post: Interested in Facebook?
Twitter: See my Twitter Post Here!
Berkun, S. (2014, January 29). What is the nature of friendship in an era of Facebook? An opinion. SCOTT BERKUN https://scottberkun.com/2014/what-is-the-nature-of-friendship-in-an-era-of-facebook-an-opinion/
Dent, S. (2018, November 30). Instram’s ‘Close Friends’ feature lets you keep Stories private. Engadget https://scottberkun.com/2014/what-is-the-nature-of-friendship-in-an-era-of-facebook-an-opinion/
Eater Staff. (2013, October 29). Starbucks Lets You Tweet Coffee to Your Friends. EATER https://www.eater.com/2013/10/29/6343833/starbucks-lets-you-tweet-coffee-to-your-Friends
I don’t think you need a “physical” relationship, to have a true friendship with a person. Social Media has given me and others a space to share ourselves and experiences with others across the world and bring communities together. It can feel weird at times to call a person a friend, who I’ve never officially met in person, but them not sitting physically beside me in a coffee shop (or any place for that matter) doesn’t have any affect on how I connect or feel toward them as a friend.
However, I do agree that people can be hurt by online friends, making an account is easy to do – but you can also be just as hurt by real life family and friends.
My experiences with social media are mainly in my adult life – so I have the wisdom and experience to step back and examine who and what I’m interacting with – young adults/teenagers etc. are still developing, so some of the points you make are good food for thought.
Well said Julie. I agree with a lot of your comments. The key element in my view is that we need to be vigilant of not being taken advantage of within social media. Young or old, we all have tendencies to be “Liked” or “Loved.” We need to ensure social media does not define us as an individual.
As having grown up with social media through all my tween, teenage and young adult life I can say that “friends” on social media has been a mix experience for me. I decided to not get a Facebook until I was 18 as I didn’t see the value in having one since I saw all my friends in person in high school. This changes when I went to university and wanted to connect with my friends going to study at other schools and connect more with people in my large course groups. Personally I only use social media to stay connected with friends I have met in person and continue to maintain this relationship online, as with the pandemic it has helped with staying connected with friends that live far away or have moved far away (the furthest right now is Tokyo, Japan). I mostly see the “Friends” list on Facebook as more a network or acquaintances with a very small circle of true friends, only that small circle is really kept up to date on what is going on in my life, as I never post on Facebook and only share true life events in messenger with the real friends.
I feel that social media friendships are best when they are combined with in-person connection. I have a small collection of friends on Facebook, and I have met every single one in person. However, I would have to say that I consider most of my Facebook “friends” to be more like acquaintances. I haven’t seen most of them in years, which makes it feel slightly strange that I know so much about their lives. Overall, I feel that, if you have a strong friendship already, Facebook can help it grow by keeping you connected and allowing you to contact each other easily. However, if you are not really friends in “real life”, it makes it hard to feel that connection.
I really enjoyed your blog post and can relate to your sentiments. I was the type of kid who would come home from school and immidiately go outside to play with my neighbourhood friends. Even when the weather was miserable, they would come over and we would play indoors. Oh the good old days!
What I will say is that the friends I was hanging around as I was growing up were not necessarily the friends I best related to. They were kids who happened to be my age and lived on the same neighbourhood as I did. Whether or not we had things in comon or got along with eachother, we had no choice but to hangout. Nowadays, social media has made it easy to connect with people who share similar interests making it much easier to chose the people who surround you. The sea of friends is infinitely larger than it once was. As I got older, my old neighbourhood friends and I drifted apart but we still managed to keep in contact through social media!
Thank you for sharing.