“I have 564 friends.” Such a bold statement would probably have been viewed as ludicrous 20 years ago. Nowadays, however, this statement would not seem all that strange. In the age of the internet, we can access an endless stream of resources at the touch of a button. In an instant, we are exposed to a vast amount of information and we can access this information whenever and wherever we want. Such advancements are certainly helpful! We will always be kept in the loop for upcoming events and we will always know when to bring an umbrella with us. But what does this mean for our friendships how we interact with each other?
Friend request accepted
By “friending” someone, we immediately have a scarily intimidate level of access to their lives. Where they live, who they date, what they wore yesterday and when they last ate sushi. While this level of access to someone’s world is certainly interesting, it has also changed the way we view and engage with other people. When we first meet someone, we are interested in talking to, we like to find out a few things about them. In the past, this information would be obtained through conversation. These are known as ‘the basics’ and often serve as a conversation starter. Maybe you both went to the same school or have a mutual friend. In our modern world, it would not be uncommon to source this information from a social media account instead. The effort of getting to know someone has therefore been removed.
We could even take this a step further and find out such information before we’ve even met the person. First impressions are a very important aspect of our social interactions. When we engage in so-called “Facebook stalking”, we interfere with these first impressions and end up forming opinions of someone before we have even met them. What makes this problematic, is that a Facebook profile is almost never an accurate reflection of the person. We present our best selves to the world on our profiles, with our best (sometimes heavily filtered) photo on display. When we then actually meet the individual in person, we are placed in the strange situation where we need to create a second-first-impression!
Even the way in which we acknowledge someone’s achievements or compliment them on their new look has changed. In the past, we would probably have picked up the phone. Congratulated the person, asked about their experience, shared a conversation or even made plans to get together and catch-up over coffee soon. Today? A simple “like” will do the trick. This removes the chances of having a meaningful interaction with someone.
While there are some drawbacks to modern friendships, there are certainly some benefits. We can instantly connect with each other and share our best moments with much more people than before. Just make sure to log off and do friendships the old-fashioned way every now and then!
Written by Shane MacSweeney