Friendship in a “connected” world


I never got to think about the friends I’ve made, let go and kept in my life until a couple of days ago. Here’s a glimpse of what making friends and keeping them means with all those things we’ve been led to believe are able to fill geographical distance. 

Foto: sadmuffin.net

sadmuffin.net

First things first. Truth is  this phrase is almost always a lie. It is cute when you are nine years old and say that to probably 10 people you think are your best friends. Now, 15 years later, there is only one person from that time I talk to (on her birthday and some other special occasions).

Some people say friendship is stronger than romantic love, the kind you feel for your significant other. My theory is that it depends on how you want to measure it:

Can you stop loving a friend like you can stop loving your boyfriend/girlfriend? Can friendship endure time and distance better than romantic relationships?

1. Digital era

If there’s something I’ll admit is that the Internet makes it easier to stay in touch with friends. Of course, it’s not like without Facebook friendship wouldn’t have survived the 21st century. I imagine My Space wouldn’t have gone bankruptcy, that’s it. But do social networks actually help strengthen friendship?

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A very good friend of mine left for the United States on Friday (to sort of settle there). Today I went on Facebook and realized I’ve talked to him more in two years (when I met him) than to other people I’ve met longer.

I saw a pattern in the group of people I stopped talking to on Facebook: I stopped talking to them/seeing them in real life. 

However, has it happened to you that one day, out of the blue, you start chatting with someone you haven’t seen nor talked to in years, but you end up having the most awesome conversation?

It breaks the closeness rule. Then you think, “why did we ever stopped talking?” Here, two things can happen: you either regain that friendship out of the chat window or just get excited for a moment and stop talking again.

So far, it all sounds normal, right? Yes, becoming friends with someone may be easy, but keeping them is a little harder, and neither Facebook or any other social networks may seem to make a difference if you just stop liking one person or having things in common.

I thought of one more question, though: how much has online communication changed our concept of friendship?

2. Real versus virtual

Let’s say you met someone and shared a significant amount of experiences that build friendship between you two. When either one of you have to leave the same geographical space, sure, you won’t see each other as much, but you will stay in touch through phone calls, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook, Twitter, Gtalk, whatsoever… and you will continue to think of each other as “friends”.

I definitely don’t think “friendship” means the same now that it did years ago, especially when you don’t need a recollection of experiences to continue calling people “friends”. Not even telephones have had that much of an effect on people’s relationships as the Internet has. Even if you meet someone online, things get better when you become friends in real life (just like what happened with this person I mentioned at the beginning).

But then again, friendships do end even if you stay within the same geographical space. Actually, friendship is most likely to end when you don’t give each other enough space. Try moving out with a friend and see what happens. Putting an end to friendship can be even worse than breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

3. No conclusion

I really have nothing to conclude out of this. Friendship is more unstable than the majority of people believe. Just think about it. You can have a romantic relationship, a very intense one, for six months, one or two years. But how many friends do you make, leave or keep during that time?

When friends are away, online communication lets us be part of each other’s experiences, maybe a 10% of them. To keep friends, there has to be something that makes us think they’re worth it, and that “something” goes beyond any Internet connection. (Okay, I realized this is a conclusion. Let’s just leave it there).

Similar to this post:

El mundo smart

Breaking Up With A Friend Is Harder Than Breaking Up With A Significant Other (thoughtcatalog.com)

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