Of Social Media and Friendships

151Weeks ago, I had lunch with one of my best friends at McDonald’s. We talked about many things to catch up since we were both busy from work. We talked about our other friends. How are they? What are they up to? Do we still communicate with them? Sadly, the answer relies on social media. We are updated because of what they post. From time to time my best friend and I would check our phones. At some point, we were quiet and not talk with each other because of the other people online that we are also connected at the moment. By the time I was done, I put down my phone but she wasn’t. So I just ate my fries and looked around. And there they are – all the same. A father holding her daughter while talking to someone on the phone. A group of girls who seemed to not know each other after taking one too many selfies, now editing photos and picking which will get more likes on Facebook and those oldies who kept talking and laughing loudly about something funny in the past. At that moment, I remembered Gary Turks’s poem entitled “Look Up”.

I took a step back, and opened my eyes,
I looked around, and the realized
That this media we call social, is anything but
When we open our computers, and it’s our doors we shut.

Turk pointed out the negative effects of social media in a very creative way. But he made it clear in his YouTube channel that he have nothing against it, “this film is about the times we choose it over real connections and experiences.”

As of January 2016, about 2.2 Billion people all over the world are active social media users, conducted by Global Web Index. In this plugged-in world, having friends is just a click away. The question is, are they really your friends? And if so, how are you guys? Social media made us easy for us to connect and reconnect with our family, relatives and friends. But the quality of relationships is at risk. A study done by Robin Dunbar, a psychology professor at Oxford University, shows that you can count on only a few online friends during hardships (4.1%) while the other so-called friends (13.6%) only send their compassion through texts and other messaging flatforms. He also coined the term Dunbar’s number. It is a theory in which states that a person can only maintain 150 stable relationship in his lifetime.

Case in point: maintaining friendships over so many medium is challenging. But this may be a test of friendship after all. If you are in turmoil of the status of your friendship with anyone in particular. It may help to take time to think it over because ending relationship is messy. Since friendship is mostly based on communication, here are some questions you need to ask yourself before breaking up with your friends.

1. Do I get excited or irritated on my friends postings?
This could be a sign that both of you have drifted apart. The things you once liked or shared together no longer interest both of you. And even if you see each other again, it is just not the same.

2. Do I secretly rant over our friendship?
If you are doing this, you are not communicating well with each other. Misunderstanding can happen anytime. Do not let it spoil your relationship. If your friend keeps posting and tagging to make you feel humiliated or betrayed, talk it over.

3. Do we see each other face-to-face?
Staying connected online is not the same with having conversations in person. You can detect if a friend is sincere or not when you are together.

4. Am I the only one in this friendship who is trying to make it work?
Friendship is between people and not a relationship with yourself. If you tried communicating with no response or worse, seenzoned, maybe he/she ended it before you even realized.

To get my best friend’s attention, I sarcastically told her in a higher tone than my usual to stop it. She stopped and we continued talking. We didn’t take any pictures of how our day went or posted anything online for the world to see that we are very good friends and had fun together that day. We keep the balance of the use of social media and our friendship. And if you are considering to end things with your BFF, you might want to think it through. Break ups are not easy after investing a lot of yourself for your friendship. Remember, social media and friendship is a perfect combination to revive relationships before it dies out.