Perhaps social media has always been part of your life. However, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest didn’t even exist when I was born. I’m not THAT old, but reminiscing about life before the Internet can make me feel old as dirt. I’m going to give a few examples of the way life has changed. You can probably relate if you are old enough to remember having to get up to change the t.v. channel. For the younger set, it may read more like a chapter in a history lesson.
Friends Before Facebook
Most of my Facebook friends list consists of people I met before Facebook existed. We’ve met in person and share a history together. We’ve done the following:
- Hung out in person together.
- Talked on the phone.
- Sent Christmas and birthday cards.
I can even remember life before caller i.d. and answering machines. For those of you who can’t, yes, there was once a time when people didn’t screen calls. I suppose we had the benefit of getting more exercise by having to get off the couch to answer the phone and using our fingers to dial rotary phones. While the innovations in technology have added the benefit of convenience to our lives, at what cost has it been to our friendships?
Friends after Facebook
Over the years, all of the above three activities with friends have become diminished or stopped altogether. I’m sure that some of it has to do with being more involved in married and family life as we get older, and the price of postage. However, I think social media’s instant communication methods have made people less willing to invest time in friendships through phone calls and get-togethers. It seems that all the modern conveniences somehow haven’t freed up much of our time, people seem more rushed than ever. How did this happen? Is it a figment of my imagination that life used to move at a slower pace, or is time just accelerating as I age?
Even when I get together with others, checking their phones for messages often distracts them. Of course, other forms of e-communication contribute to this, such as texting and email. Google+, Facebook, etc. have recognized this by delivering email notifications.
I have friends who get upset that I don’t text. My attitude is that you aren’t really a friend if it’s such a hardship to actually call and talk to me. If people are so investing in checking their Facebook notifications but can’t invest time in seeing or talking to me, how much are they really interested in my friendship? Are they just checking up on me out of boredom or curiosity?
I’ve added people to my friends list whom I haven’t met in person, but share common interests with. Some I seem to know more about than my “in real life” (IRL) friends, simply because they post more often or share more information when they do. Are they truly friends or should they be considered acquaintances until we’ve met in real life? How is the classification made? Some thoughts I’ve had include:
- If an IRL friend never likes or comments on my posts but a friend I’ve never met always does, is one more my friend than the other?
- If an IRL friend has stopped calling and sending cards, and now only sends me an annual birthday greeting on Facebook, are they now demoted to being an acquaintance?
Have you noticed a change in the nature of your interactions with friends since the birth of social media networking sites? Has it changed the way you define friendship? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Written by Dana Altman