Is Social Media Changing What it Means to be Friends?

Is Social Media Changing What it Means to be Friends?

Technology is a fantastic thing. It’s really opened up the world to us measly humans. Without technology, we wouldn’t be able to stay in contact with our families from the other side of the world. We would miss all events, we wouldn’t be able to tell our parents that we are safe, we wouldn’t be able to wish anybody a happy birthday. In fact, without technology, there would be no travel at all.

That being said, I think it’s safe to say that technology doesn’t always have a positive effect on our lives. Nowadays, it’s really common to see children under 10 with their noses glued to an iPad or an iPhone, and this really breaks my heart! I grew up with limited technology; for me ‘games’ meant playing Lord of the Rings in the woods. There have been numerous scientific studies based on the idea of technology being a social blocker. A social blocker is an obstacle that gets in the way of normal social interactions. For most, this would mean talking face-to-face: having an in-depth conversation with another person, maybe over a hot cup of coffee.

However, could the real problem be that the definition of social interactions is changing? No longer do we have to arrange a coffee date to catch-up with a friend, or iron out an argument. Getting the latest gossip or apologizing is now as simple as sending a text or an email. I recently saw the film ‘The Intern’ starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, which has a hilarious scene in which a young professional laments over the fact he is still being ignored by a girl, even though he apologized to her via email with the subject heading ‘Soooooooorry’. It was funny, but sadly extremely accurate of the modern age.

It is now absolutely acceptable to keep in contact via social media or telephone, making interactions fleeting and less emotional. Who remembers the days of love letters? Somehow, love emails just does’t have the same ring to it. Is this changing what it means to be friends? As I’ve mentioned before, you meet so many amazing people whilst travelling, and whenever I have to say goodbye I feel pain in my heart, because I know that in reality I won’t keep in contact with them properly. It’s far too easy to just add somebody on Facebook and consider that ‘keeping in contact’. The problem with social media is that you feel as though you are involved in somebody’s life, and caught up with all of their news, because you see it every day on your news feed.

Does this mean that friendship is now defined by clicking ‘accept’, an occasional ‘like’, and a ‘happy birthday’ post? Is this the beginning of the end of close, meaningful, platonic relationships? We don’t have to emotionally invest in long-distance friendships anymore. We don’t have to make a note in our diaries to contact or visit somebody. We think that all of this is done for us.

For me, this is sad. I like to talk to people, I consider myself a social person; I love conversations, and although my close friends are few and far between, I crave the opportunity to make new friends outside of the boundaries of social media. Do you think that this is me being old fashioned? Am I wrong to think that this is the beginning of the end? Is this actually just a form of development, moving towards something bigger and better? In a way, I hope it isn’t. I personally am taking this as a sign to up my game when it comes to keeping in contact and communicating. I don’t want to be lost in the ether of technology, do you?

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