Social Media and Friendships: Is Social Media Diminishing Our Ability To Have Deeper Connections?


One big question that we may need to take a second to think subconsciously about, and ask ourselves is this: has social media made it easier or more difficult for us to have deeper connections?

And by deeper connections, I mean real friendships that transcend beyond the frequent messaging and posting via social media, group chats and internet discussions.

Perhaps we should back up a little bit and really define what exactly constitutes frienship in order for us to determine whether or not social media has enhanced or diminished our friendly connections.

Has Friendship Been Redefined?

Friendship as defined by the Collins Dictionary is a relationship between two or more friends. And this friend is someone who you know well and like, but who is not necessarily related to you.

According to Psychology Today, the term friendship is connected with the Japanese word kenzoku which literally means "family". Suggesting that the deepest connections, interactions and interactions we have with these people (be they family members, cousins, schoolmates, coworkers, etc) can be described as friendship.

Interestingly, it also notes that distance and time does nothing to the bond that exists between people in this kind of relationship.

Connecting with what psychology experts believe to be the ideal number of friendship connections a person can normally have (realistically manage), the number sits at 150. However, on social media, we can have thousands of friends and even millions of followers with whom we may seem to develop some kind of friendly connections with.

SEE ALSO: How To Manage Distracting Notifications on WhatsApp 

Researchers Brain Butler and Sabine Matook in their research work titled Social Media and Relationships note that social media are a diverse collection of technologies and applications that allow individuals to communicate, exchange information, and share digital artifacts with one another.

According to them, these basic capabilities can be appropriated to support many different types of relationships. Whether creating substitute relationships, enabling new types of relationships, or complementing existing relationships, social media systems are important influences on the way people and organizations relate to one another in all sphere of life.

Online Friends vs Offline Friends

No doubt today, we interact with each other via social media than we do physically offline, even within the work space. However, this "virtual" nature of our interactions via social media have made our friendships and relationships shallow and a lot less meaningful.

This could very well be attributed to the reality that we may have lots of friends, connections and followers on social media, but lack deep, close, real offline friendships and interactions.

Although scientists have found no direct relationship between social media use and depression, data available on the internet suggest that social media "friendships", without corresponding offline friendships could lead to increased depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

Even with our offline friends and connections, social media can interfere with meaningful friendships and bonding when we stay glued to our phones, scrolling and chatting even while engaging in physical offline interactions with friends and acquaintances.

Our degree of presence and interest in our physical friendly connections can be tainted by social media if we are not deliberate in building healthy physical and emotional connections offline.

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