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Friends Indeed?
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Friends Indeed?

April 26th, 2008 · No Comments

Friends Indeed?
As We Click with More Pals Online, The Idea of Friendship Multiplies
Washington Post
Sunday, April 20, 2008

I found this article as I was perusing my newsfeeds at thought it was pretty applicable. It’s about the effect of online social networks on how we relate. Since the article is kind of long, I thought I’d include some quotations here:

“You can be friends with someone you know well and don’t like,” reports Susannah Clark, a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington. “You read their profiles and blogs and are well aware of their life. It’s a love-to-hate type arrangement.”

“Facebook is more about entertainment than work,” says Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and sociologist who studies social networks at Harvard. “Instead of watching soap operas, they’re watching soap operas of people they sort of know.”

“It sucks you in,” says Mary Washington’s Clark. “The public conversations — it’s digital eavesdropping.”

“You can maintain a friendship over a distance. Once the person is a friend, it takes very little data to communicate very complex things. You can send a five-word e-mail” that, for someone else, “would take a two-hour conversation.”

I feel like I have many discussions about online socialization. Some people just feel more comfortable communicating through these means (i.e. instant messaging, email, Facebook, and blogging).

It’s easier on the practical level. Facebook messages are quick. There is less chance of forgetting a birthday. Little time commitment is actually required. Emails don’t require immediate responses. We can write a blog to everyone so we don’t need to have multiple conversations. Staying updated is just too easy. It fits with the busy world we live in.

But then it’s easier on the relational level. We can protect ourselves from being vulnerable. Putting up a digital front is relatively simple and safe. Rejection online is easier to deal with than rejection in person. Our words don’t have to match how we feel, and no one can read our facial expressions and body language to see beyond what we type.

If so much information about the lives of our friends is given to us, have we come to expect that there is little else to know?

Have we forgotten to show interest in our friends’ lives?
To ask about things that might be on their hearts?
To be available, even when it takes time?
To be vulnerable, even when it takes risk?

Who said that all relationships/friendships were supposed to be easy?
Well, who said love was easy?

Tags: Blog

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