Social media has opened the floodgates to interactions, and the list of acquaintances, friends and confidantes have swelled at a great pace. In this age of instant "riends requests" how hard is it to maintain friendships and keep in touch with so many at a time? Has social media facilitated the relationship building process? Or has it simply pawned real relationships for the instand gratification of virtual networks and digital followers? Is there a difference between real-life friendships and online friendships? Here are a few findings that seek to set the record straight with respect to online friendships.
- The wellbeing of men and women, especially in midlife, depends on having a wide circle of friends
- Lack of friends is associated with significantly lower levels of psychological wellbeing.
- Two-thirds of teens surveyed made new friends on social media.
- 70% of teens surveyed use online social platforms to be connected to their friends’ feelings.
- According to an Oxford study, people can only maintain about 150 stable relationships.
- But even in the 150 so-called stable relationships, an average of 4.1 are dependable and 13.6 express sympathy during an “emotional crisis.”
- The average American has only two real-life close friends.
- 85% teens concur that people tend to exhibit themselves differently on social media than in real life.
- 77% teens find people less authentic on social media than in real life.
- Research has shown that we lose about half of our close network members every seven years.
No matter which side of the debate you are on, it is indeed indisputable that social media is a magnifying mirror of real life – transient, but surely reflective. In real life, we meet people, some of them stick on, some pass by, and the ones that stick around could, with the passage of time, traverse the layers and get into the inner most circle of our friendship. It is best if we can extend friendships beyond the glowing screen in both ways – stay connected with real-time friends in cyber space as well as judiciously move on-screen friends into real life. But in all cases, it is best to remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said - “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
(Picture Credit: Wikipedia)