I, like many, use social media to keep connected with my friends. I use Facebook as a quick glance into their lives, as well as an excellent reminder of their birthday. I use messenger to check in with groups of friends about upcoming gatherings, or important notifications. All of this used to take place in the old days by letters, telephone, or in person. Just this past week, I had to explain the use of pen pal in a story that the kids read because they had no idea what a pen pal was.
When friends graduate, move, and start families people can drift apart. I feel grateful to the advances in social media that allow me to continue to be a daily part of my friend’s lives. In Gretchen Rubin’s blog Eight Tips for Maintaining Friendships, she talks about the obstacle of time and how social media can keep us connected. She also mentions we have all kinds of friends.
I get a boost of happiness when by friends are happy. Edge wrote about this in Social Networks and Happiness. The article mentions emotional contagion, and they wonder how emotions spread over social media. I found it interesting that they spoke of motions not just being individual, but a collective phenomenon. They more you smile, they say, the more centrally located you are in the network.
There can be however a downside. I find it hard to get away from technology and just relax. Often, in my house, we are all in separate rooms on our devices. I’m sure we have all witnessed people out together physically, but how much are they a part of the moment when they all have their phones out? In the article Social Media, Pretend Friends, and the Lie of False Intimacy, Jay Baer speaks about considering the people we connect with online as friends, but how much do we really know about them? And do these new connections mean we are not deepening old friendships?
How do you use social media to maintain, renew, or start new friendships?