Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Friendship in the Social Networks Era

We used to leave our houses to meet our friends or sneak out to some taboo areas to enjoy some quick abuse. Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp....) have re-defined the meaning of the word "friend." Instead of interacting with the other people in the neighborhood, users can now converse with people on the other side of the world. Facebook has closed off many of the barriers that used to prevent communication and awareness of the world around us. Many young people log on to Facebook daily, connecting with their friends, sharing updates and photographs. While Facebook may be a great sharing tool, it is no substitute for real-world human interaction. 

We used to have much less connexions with much more connections. Our humane interactions are some of the basic human needs. We need to be a part of a group and to connect with others is a real human physiological need. Studies have shown that babies that don't receive adequate skin to skin contact in their first few weeks of life suffer more illnesses than those that are held and cuddled. The need to feel accepted is real and instinctive.

Social Networks, however, can present a false sense of security when it comes to real connection. While it is great to chat online and share articles and stories, humans need real contact. There is no substitute for an in-person visit or a phone call. The small blue screens are giving us false hope of being in touch. Yet, once this phone battery is drained out, we loose all this luxury of being in touch with "close" screen friends.

The key is to enjoy social media without sacrificing quality time with friends and family. Your sisters and brothers will soon grow older and have lives away from home. Spend all the time you can with them now. Your babies will also grow away with their own phones. Our wives, our husbands need us as well.

If social media consumes all of your time, you are missing out on the real quality interaction with family that you need to be fulfilled. Take time to shut off the computer and go outside and enjoy the weather. Call a friend and arrange a time to meet for lunch and talk. Sit down to dinner with Mom and Dad without texting and messaging under the table. You will be surprised at how much more fulfilling your life is when you seek out real human interaction. 

When you have your own family. Ensure that your phone is far away from the dining table. Make sure that kids do not need to text you to ask you for a quick meeting at home. It is tempting to keep the eyes focused on the small screen. However, it is much harder on the little eyes to look around and find noone there for them except their mom's and dad's locked phone. 

Our Whatsapp and Facebook are great tools to keep in touch but they can never substitute the love and warmth of family and friends.

Enjoy a social media-free day every once in a while and get to know the people around you better. By pulling the plug on social media, you will be tapping into a rich world of human connection that will last you throughout life.

No comments: