Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

Social Media and Faux Friendships

01 Oct

Unlike millions of others around the world, I’m finding social media depressing these days. Maybe I’m hanging out on Facebook too much, but suddenly I’m finding the old-fashioned idea of friendship put to the test, and I’m in unfamiliar cyber territory.

For example, one of my college friends announced his engagement online this past Friday. A few days later, I was the 27th person to send a congratulatory message, most of those other messages, mind you, are from folks I don’t know. Not that I had any expectations that my friend would spend his second day of engagement starting a phone tree to spread the news, but still. I think, who are these strange people that are “friends” with my friend, and why does this type of communication feel more like a competition than a relationship?

Meanwhile, while poking around on my BFF’s online page, I came across a section of photographs, most of which are of he and his girlfriend. They are pictures I’ve never seen, of places I don’t recognize or have never visited. Suddenly I feel like I’m peeking through the window of a stranger’s house.

I’ve come to realize that those people I have known for so long, the ones who know me better than anyone, are now scattered across the world, living lives I know nothing about.

When I first moved to Florida, the absence of my gaggle of friends was palpable. It was very different from my previous experiences of moving to a strange town, living alone and being alone. This time I had a soon-to-be husband roommate, with plenty of friends, but I had to figure out how to find new companions.

I remember lamenting with my now long-distance pals that maybe, at some point in life, we stop forming bonds with new people. Maybe, I was so blessed with amazing, quirky, loving, caring, thoughtful friends that there would be no new additions to the fold.

I accepted this, I believed it. Until I realized those far-away loyal companions were cheating on me with hundreds of other little cyber-buddies, and I wasn’t in on the action.

Maybe, in the long run, long-distance friendships cannot work. And these media sites, all bannered with “keep in touch” and “reconnect” slogans, are less of a technological wonder of communication and more of a modern-day cheat sheet to friendship maintenance.

Are we all really this self-centered? “Upload it and they will come.” We even post updates about ourselves in the third person for goodness sakes.

Turns out I’m not the only one pegging social networks for their self-involved tendencies; check out this article, Social Networking IDs Narcissism, from PsychCentral.

What happened to a verbal exchange, give and take? What about laughing so hard your stomach aches, or something cold comes out your nose, which turns into a story to be told and told and retold, until all you have to hear is the words “orange soda” and the laugher starts all over again? What about hugs, and greeting cards and letters (the ones that require postage) or long talks that last until 3:00 a.m.?

I know it’s possible. Surely I’m not the only person who talks to her college roommate every day, even though she’s in Texas and I’m residing under endless palm trees. Surely there are childhood friends who still have a monthly girls night or still use their cell phone minutes to catch up every week.

Funny, the call to action for friendship would best be suited, perhaps, to a social media site: Support the Back to Friendship Cause! Ugh. Once again, the world is filled with popularity and lemmings.