Make real connections

I’ve been online for many years, well before social media became a thing and when people used to chat in forums and on AIM and MSN messenger (showing my age as usual) 🙂

However with this so-called ‘Social Media’, all I am finding is a lack of real connections and a lack of actual social interactions (even virtual ones).

I hear people talk of their “x” number of ‘friends’ on Facebook. I wonder if by calling them friends it creates the illusion of connection. For what we are really talking about is followers (with some real friends in there I’m sure). Most are people you probably don’t know and there will be some you know and don’t even actually connect with.

We are more separated than ever before as old friendship, true connections are falling by the wayside and replaced with these insta-friendships. Where people use a platform (aptly named) to proclaim their life in all its detail. I’ve seen people announce extremely personal issues in great detail on these sites.

I find it strange. The idea of revealing some very personal things to everyone seems almost unreal to me. Well, I guess they can restrict it to their “Friends” so that would be the 500+ friends?

What ever happened to real friendships? You know where you connected with people. Not saying it has to be in person or even on the phone (hell, I would struggle with that myself) but having actual conversations, back and forth discussions were people talked (or typed) and discussed and shared their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Rather than just proclaiming all these thoughts to the waiting masses and then having micro conversations via comments. (I guess this blog post could be seen as doing just that).

Media can be used to proclaim – it can be used to speak to a wide audience. But let’s remember the small groups. You don’t need to express everything to the masses, to your 300+ “friends” most of who wouldn’t remember your birthday without it appearing on Facebook as a reminder.

We are social creatures and should give our time, our attention to each other. No we can’t do it for everyone so you turn to your friends, actual friends, people you know whether IRL or VL. People who you can chat to personally, people you can connect with and be there if you need a comforting word or just to shoot the breeze.

Over the holiday period and during some rough times recently I have realised how many of my old friends have drifted away. That’s okay, it happens. I have no interest in chasing them on Social Media in a hopes of learning what they are doing in their life as if they were on a some soap opera. I prefer those who choose to share their lives with me personally, to connect with me personally. If that means I have a less, then that’s okay too.

I know when a lot of these social media platforms came out, many of my friends rushed to them and searched for people they knew at school. People who had drifted away, people who they hadn’t even liked but who at one point or another, they knew. Is this really what we want? Any connection will do?

Maybe I am just cynical. I think the internet has been great for bringing people together, from all over the world. I just see a lot less ‘real’ connections. Sometimes it feels like we are all stood outside staring in through windows at other people’s lives, on show for us, but separate…and yet often still called “friendship”.

In case you are wondering, I understand why people like social media and it definitely has it’s place and its use both for business and personal. I just sometimes feel like it has replaced some real conversations.

Think about connecting with people, really connecting. Making real friendships not having just audiences on your social media. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they shouldn’t be in replacement of real connections.

Be truthful to those who are kind to you. If they treat you well, reciprocate.

Keep their confidence, if they trust you with their heartache, with their secrets and their fears, keep their trust. Support them if they need it and keep their secrets as you would keep your own.

Be not fair weathered, a friend who is only there during the good times is a “fair-weathered” friend. Be there for people when they need it, and give them the chance to be there for you.

If you are suffering, speak out to those who can help. Most people are caring and compassionate and if you need help, if you need to talk, don’t be afraid to reach out. Also, remember that sometimes people may need to speak out to you, give them the space and freedom to do so.

Be careful with what you say and to whom, not everyone has your best interests at heart and especially if you barely know someone. Build friendships, develop trust, don’t just assume someone who “friended” you can be trusted with your secrets or your worries.

Be careful with affection, too many people, especially the young are craving connections and affections. They can come in many ways and from those who can hurt you if you are not careful. Protect yourself without shutting out the opportunity to make real connections. Just be careful, use your intuition and don’t do anything that feels wrong (even a little).

Accept that messages typed can be misinterpreted. Seek to make them clear if someone has taken it the wrong way. And for those who take it the wrong way, when it is cleared up, let the issue go.

I was recently part of a group where a person made a comment on a post. Several people rushed on to complain at this person because his comment “seemed” to be negative. He came on, explained he hadn’t meant it that way and explained more clearly his point. The group continued to post comments stating it had SOUNDED negative and they weren’t happy. They took it a certain way he hadn’t meant, he cleared up the issue, and they continued to be bitch. What was ironic, was they were bitching that his comment was negative towards the thread and that “wasn’t right”…. while continuing to do JUST that against him.

So in conclusion, think about your real connections in this world, ones that will enrich your life and theirs.

To my wonderful friends who connect with me on messenger, who reach out to me personally and share their lives with me. Thank you 🙂

Ari

If you read this, I hope you found it interesting. It was merely an opinion of mine and some random thoughts.

NB: originally posted on dA

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4 thoughts on “Make real connections

  1. Yes, yes, yes. I agree with everything you said. I’m happy to add ciber space friends but I know they are just that.
    I have a few close friends that I hardly call or text but when I see them face to face it’s special and fulfilling. I think the internet breads a false sense of reality that can cause jealousy or sadness.
    I use with perspective & purpose, it’s great for reaching out but it doesn’t beat the real deal.

    • You are right, the internet does breed a false sense of reality. More so now with social media and everyone checking their “friend count.”

      As many of my friends are abroad, it helps to have the internet to keep us connected but yes the real deal, face to face meetups are always more rewarding.

  2. “Maybe I am just cynical. I think the internet has been great for bringing people together, from all over the world. I just see a lot less ‘real’ connections. Sometimes it feels like we are all stood outside staring in through windows at other people’s lives, on show for us, but separate…and yet often still called “friendship”.”

    I agree with you completely, Ari!

    As an author I am very much pressured to keep seeking to get and keep my “friend” numbers high. Even if they are called “likes” or “followers,” – which do sound better – it all seems rather forced and fake to me.

    Then, we authors are told that the best thing is to have “real engagement” with our “friends,” “likes,” and “followers.” We’re to have numbers in the thousands, if we can manage it, but engage them all in a way that makes all of them feel special to us as individuals. And, we’re to do it on every single social site we’ve chosen to be on!

    There simply is no way to do this.

    The place I’ve found to be the most accommodating to actually getting to engage – get to know – people is Facebook, both on my profiles and in groups, and perhaps in Linkedin groups. And both of those are modeled after formus. All the other sites, for me, seem poorly set up for actually becoming friends with people.

    I too miss forums, but then again, the more you talk and interact, the more the likelihood of something happening like what you described above. I’ve also seen those blowups. I was almost the victim of one myself. Only help from a friend who had been on high school and college debating teams kept things under control and defused the situation. Because of that I’m now rather shy about saying or doing much that is on the “engaging” end of things.

    Right now, I have some folks, like you, who I know a bit better because I comment on their blogs, and that’s cool. There are also a few I will chat with on Facebook sometimes, also cool. I have one person I consider a close friend now who I talk to regularly on Skype and another one I email, comment on her blog and join virtual retreats that she runs. They are the ones I consider close acquaintances or, yes, friends, and I’m grateful for them. I have a few friends from my past that we email or call each other from time to time, and they are precious to me. And, wonder of wonders, I have a few close friends IRL too! 🙂

    And there are fans of my writing who I don’t know at all, really, but I do value their presence on my various sites because they ARE fans. They like and support my writing and that is important to me even if I don’t get to know them all well. I do feel I need to be connecting with them better and I’m trying to figure out how to do it.

    And then, at the bottom somewhere, are the many people (esp. on Twitter) who are only tics in the numbers columns – as I’m very sure I am to them.

    What’s sad is how much emphasis is placed on those number columns by publishers and booksellers – seeing as I know the majority of them (again, especially on Twitter) are only in my numbers column because they want me as a tic in theirs, not because they actually bought or read my books.

    No for all our new found “connectedness,” I don’t think we’re as truly connected as we used to be.

    • Yes the pressure put on authors to have a massive following, then to maintain that follow and THEN to engage personally with that following…it is a surprise writers get time to WRITE!

      I think the internet has made it harder because publishers expect so much. It’s like email, it’s SUPPOSED to make life easier, more efficient, but it doesn’t – it just makes you more accessible but doesn’t get more done.

      I have found my blog to be the best way to connect with people, it brings people in then I am able to chat to them in other places such as on Facebook messenger etc.

      I love the idea of skyping with people, most of my friends never bother with skype, even just the messenger part and not the camera. *sigh* instead is all “write on my facebook wall”

      I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling this disconnection with people and I hope we get to chat again soon 🙂

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