When I was growing up being friends had a very different dynamic than it does today. Social media has changed not only the way we interact with people but the way we feel connected to them. My girls range in age from 10 - 19 so we have ridden the wave of social media interaction since the beginning. From MySpace to Facebook and now on to Snapchat and whatever the next big thing will be. It hasn't been easy and the truth is there have been times I have failed as I helped my girls navigate friendships in a social media world. At this point with my younger two we are at a slow crawl with social media connections. Outside of Instagram (which is a shared account two sisters and mom how cool is that? NOT for them but they tolerate it with a good attitude!) they don't have social media interaction, that I know of...but that is a post for another day.
On to friends, just being friends. I have a new found passion for friends, real life friends not social media friends. I am desperate to teach my girls how to be friends in real life. How to connect, feel connected and stay connected outside of social media. I believe it is possible. My goal is to teach them this while also teaching how to participate in social media. After all, social media is part of their world, it is part of our society. A wise woman in my life shared with me years ago - taking all social media and technology away from your children will only hurt them, they have to learn to navigate all of that in the world we live in today.
So what do friendships look like in today's world? Well some consist of lots of social media interaction such as "likes", comments and being tagged in posts. I have people in my life who do not feel connected to those with whom they are not actively interacting with on social media. Let's not forget about texting - I know some people who do not feel connected or begin to feel less of a friend if there is a lack of constant texting as well. So friendships in today's world are starting to look like social media interaction - sharing snapchats, texting, likes, comments, tagging each other in posts etc. some of this is private and some public for the world to see. None of it builds a true and lasting friendship. Key word build - I know we all keep in touch with friends near and far through social media. I believe that is one of its best benefits. For example I have a close group of college friends, we have a private group on facebook and use that to keep in touch with each other. Sharing news about our lives, families, careers, encouragement and planning our next trip together. These friendships were already built, we have roots, we have true connection. I do not believe likes, comments, tags in posts and the like build true connection.
What did friendships look like before social media? Talking to either in person or on the phone. Doing things together. Long distance friends had to call or write (and send via snail mail) letters or notes. High school friends would reconnect when home on breaks - and likewise reconnect with their college friends when they returned to school after breaks. Did these "breaks" mean the friendships were over or had become distant? No. With real friends you picked up where you left off - catch up on each others lives and there had no feeling of real distance - just that time had passed while you were in two different places living your life in the "now". Did you feel distant because you didn't have a real time window into what was going on like we do today through picture posting, likes, comments etc? No!
How do we merge these two worlds - the world of real connection and the world of social media interaction? That is what I am trying to figure out.