Friendship in the real world

This past week, I’ve felt disconnected from my blog. I’ve had all the words, the photos, everything I need to put my blog posts together….

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friends day trip lake memories spontaneous

This past week, I’ve felt disconnected from my blog. I’ve had all the words, the photos, everything I need to put my blog posts together. Except, one thing. I just didn’t know what. It felt as though there was some sort of an invisible force stopping me from hitting the publish button. The other night, as I laid in bed, with only the sound of my chaotic thoughts to accompany me on an otherwise silent night, I finally knew why.

Social media can create barriers. It builds these huge brick walls that prevent real interaction. We’re all so willing to spill our hearts out, share our deepest secrets, and our even deeper fears, on the internet. Whether we choose to share it through a detailed blog post, a ranting facebook status, or a picturesque photo on instagram. The thing is, whichever medium we choose to share those thoughts and feelings, it’s digital. More likely than not, we aren’t sharing it directly with those who need to see or hear it most. We’re just putting it out there, freeing ourselves from these thoughts and hoping somebody, anybody, will grasp onto them. There’s no physical substance behind this. There’s no awkward face-to-face conversations, no supportive hugs, no kisses that linger a little too long, no salty tears shared. There’s just pixels being shared across a screen.

Lately, I’ve found myself writing up my blog posts by hand in my diary. They sit there, ink drying, waiting to be published online. But this current feeling of disarticulation stops me. In the world of blogging, I have found that I have formed friendships with so many wonderful people. Some of which I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person. Others that I hope to meet soon. I’ve formed bonds with people on the other-side of the world. I feel like I’m the part of something, part of a community that has welcomed me with open arms, laughter, 140-character conversations, Netflix and pizza. I love it. So yes, in the blogosphere, social media can be a wonderful thing. It can bring people together.

Yet, flip to my personal life and the internet and social media has the opposite effect. It tethers those personal relationships. We stay in the loop with other people’s personal lives by piecing together the photos they upload and the things they type. We see this as being enough to sustain our friendships. We can go for months without speaking to people but still know the finer details of their life. I understand that social media makes it easier to share information with the people around us. But, it’s also making us forget the importance of making a conscious effort in the real, digital free, world. Social media creates this false sense of security. It creates this false feeling of intimacy and friendship that doesn’t really exist in a tangible sense.

My Dad lives in America and with a heavy heart, and biting my tongue, I will admit that I’m partially to blame for our lack of interaction. I struggle to pick up the phone, engulfed by the fear of not having the right words to say. Though, I also struggle trying to order pizza on the phone – so it’s nothing personal. I’m just not one of those 3-hour phone calls, kind of people. It was my Dad’s birthday recently. With a card and present on it’s way to him, I also sent him a birthday message, via social media. He read it- as social media so willing tells us these days. But he never responded. Days later, yet again via social media, he posted a status retelling of his recent visit to the Doctors regarding his health and the Doctor’s warning of a liver transplant. Something I was completely unaware of. I send another message. Yet again, social media happily tells me it’s been read. Still, no response. A week has since passed and I’m still waiting on the line. With my personal tale aside, we all experience our own version of this. Obviously, across oceans, countries and time differences, face-to-face interaction isn’t going to be possible and intermittent catch-ups will be necessary. But this thing happens with the people around us as well.

We live in a society where ‘favouriting’ or ‘liking’ something online is equivalent to sitting down with them over a fresh cup of coffee to say ‘Hey, I just want to say, I’m here for you and I hope you’re okay’. We live in a society where we will like a persons Instagram photo. But if we pass them in the street, we’d probably only offer a feeble smile, or maybe we’ll put our head down and pretend we never noticed them at all.

We live life at breakneck speed. We’re constantly checking social media. We’re constantly having several conversations at once. We thinly slice our attention and distribute it to numerous friendships. Because, thanks to technology, we can. The days of friends spontaneously turning up at your door are long gone. Those spontaneous moments have been traded in for texts arranging plans, plans that sometimes never come to light. We’re comfortable with building multiple shallow relationships rather than creating deeper bonds. Obviously, this isn’t the case for all the people in our lives. There’s still those friends who we can count on to be there for us at 2am. There’s still those friends who know our inner-most secrets and those still those friends who are up for spontaneous adventures. But this post is for all the other friends.

With the sudden realisation of this technology induced lack of sustenance in friendships, I’ve been making a conscious, real-life, effort with people. I want tangible friendships. I want relationships in the real world. Rather than friendship based on half-hearted social media chats. This past month, I’ve caught up with friends that I haven’t seen for 11-months, 1 1/2 years, and even 3 years. Those days will remain fondly in my heart. And this time, I promise not to leave it so long to see them again.

It may be easier to quickly tap a message to someone than it is to set aside time to travel and see them. But, do you really want your memories with people to just be a string of digital messages and emojis? Do you want to find out about the important events in people’s life through social media? Or, do you want to be able to retell about that time you and your old friend got together and had the most amazing spontaneous road trip to the beach? Do you want to tell people of the days you spent laughing, crying and debating with friends and that one day that you connected with someone more than you ever imagined you would? I know which one I prefer.

So please, get out there and make a conscious effort with the people who surround you.

2 comments

  1. Loved this blog post – it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Life is stupidly busy, and you don't have the time to do all the things you want to do, and somehow catching up with friends gets pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. I think there comes a point where a re-evaluation of priorities is due, and I'm reaching that point now! Life's too short to not spend time with those that really count – even if it's a phone call, it's nice having that real-life contact as opposed to staring blankly at a screen waiting for the "ping" in your notifications.

    Thought provoking blog post, and one I'm really glad I read! <3 xx

  2. A very good post! I do feel like too many people try to live their life through social media and lose the personal touch of catching up with people in real life. I find it difficult to do with the amount of time I've been spending at work. But I'm trying to put more time aside to have a catch up with people in real life.

    But on the other hand I do live talking to people through social media as I've "met" so many great and interesting people.

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