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The Way We Connect: Is It Challenging the Idea of Friendship?

In 2001 when I moved to Delhi, India and began to settle into the apartment I noticed we did not have a telephone. I asked the office manager of the company I worked for when we would get a landline. It was advised that it would take several months. I sighed at that time it was the most important line of communication for me to stay in touch with my family and friends.

However, there was something that was shaping the way people connected in India and that was the use of the cel phone. It was the cel phone that you could take with you to work or to the market and not worry about missing the important calls that mattered from the ones in my life.

It was at that time I connected with friends through email and  feel free to gasp sometimes by mail.  At that time Twitter was a tweet from a Robin and Facebook was not even out of diapers. Tom Chatfield points out in his recent article “Rethinking Social Networks” that Facebook will connect 1 in 7 people this year but as it connects so many people is it diluting the intimacy of friendship?

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At one time friendship was an intimate circle of friends but as we have expanded with various social networks it could be degrading the very fiber of friendship. We have opened the door to connecting with more and more people many that we have never met in real life.  It is through opening this door we are no longer conversing together at coffee shops but sharing ideas over the internet.

Chatfield argues that there are now over six billion phones worldwide and 900 million of those cel phone users are from India. It is these phones that have a purpose which is more than a mini computer but offer practicalities such as a sturdy battery and flashlight for when the power goes out.  It is also the most important tool that keeps many people connected to their closest friends and family.

Networking has a way of connecting us but the most intimate relationships are the ones that we share we are phone numbers with those in our inner circle. It is these friendships that provide support when the chips are down and the first to share with any exciting news.

Since 2001 there have been so many changes in technology and with the rise of many social media networks I have had the great fortune to connect with many wonderful people.  So it fascinates me that even though many of us have never met in real life we all share an interest or a common goal and that is what Nicholas Christoakis would point out is “the reciprocation of kindness because we are better off for it.”

We have networks because we evolve to connect with other people through experiences which tie us together. It is the benefits of the connected life which bring us together to share and expand ideas. It is through this cooperation of spirits that makes us more genial people.

So as there are different level of friendships on and offline they all matter because they are what connect us in this globalized world.  As my phone has become my crutch it is used to share those scary and special moments with my loved ones.  My blog has become a platform that I can share ideas and connect with so many wonderful people who I have become truly grateful for in my life. You may not have my phone number but you always challenge me to think about what is over yonder in the horizon and are always the gentle  reminder that we are never alone in this world.

Do you believe the way we connect changes the face of friendship?

Categories: Social Media

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

30 replies

  1. Will you get this? Liked this post a lot. Reminds of Aristotle’s account of friendship from the ethics. Do you know you have a writing tell? You always use ” it was at this …” it’s not bad or anything, but I just finished my last grading session and have been circling and commenting on repetition! I always use thus too much and have to catch myself, usually I don’t succeed….

    Dr. Sara MacDonald, Director Great Books Programme St. Thomas University Fredericton, NB E3B 5G3

    1. Dang it! Occupational Hazard. I will keep my eye out from now on and as WordPress as my witness I will watch my writing tell! Can we celebrate that you have finished the last batch of papers? Summer has arrived! Yay!

      I think someone has drilled Aristotle into my brain and I have been thinking about him a lot the past month. I might even reread it and then you can thump me over the head with it for missing stuff.

  2. I found what you wrote and the accompanying video very informative – I have to agree with the professor, but I’ll expand on the idea that there are unhappy people attracted to happy people because they, too, want to be happy. I seem to attract a lot of those people – like they think that happiness will rub off on them.

    1. It is interesting how he pointed out that there three ways that happiness will bring people together 1) Birds of a Feather 2) Contagion 3) Celebration of an experience. I think number 2 is the closest in which many people would like to feel happiness. If someone is open and shares a smile or a laugh with you it does have the ability to spread. I truly believe!

  3. OMG – Are you living in my head?!? I have been pondering and thinking about connections and friendships for a while now. Why does it have to be so difficult and one day you are in and the next day you are on the outs! Then other times it comes so easy and your new friend is like your long lost soul sister:) Have a Great One!

    1. You ask a very good question some friendships flow with the tide and can very telling when the chips fall down. It is always wonderful to connect with a kindred spirit it makes coffee that much more enjoyable.

  4. Nothing beats a real-live person, sitting in front of me, waiting for me to smother them with a hug.

    As online communities have proliferated, I have had to remind myself to put the phone away, to pay attention to the people in front of me, to connect with who matters. Life is full of too much noise. I don’t want to get to the end of it having failed to find the music within it.

    1. I have to agree and as of late I have had more time for those important connections. It is nice to hear the sound of laughter and see the expressions of a real living being.

      Life does have way too much noise and we really do have to balance online experiences while the real world sits in front of us.

  5. Connecting is cool, but knowing how to use social media effectively and politely seems to be difficult for some people who I know. The result is friends who are upset not so much by the message, but by the way in which it was delivered. That is where I’m seeing the challenges of friendship play out.

    1. You know there are many challenges to social media sometimes people read too much into things, mistake humor for snark, and it is hard to read the tone if you cannot see the facial expressions. I believe that can be the challenge and of course I do have a bite. So I have to watch that at times…

  6. This is such an important topic. I can’t help but think our social environment will shape how we understand friendship. Sometimes this concerns me. My daughter said something interesting last night, she said, “It’s easy to take a person’s presence for granted.” What she meant to highlight, I think, was the importance of being with others bodily, of being impacted by all that is communicated not through words but through their simply being there. I think we shouldn’t forget about the importance of being near our life, like face to face with it. It’s so intimate, anymore sharing the same breath of air with another person feels nearly sacred. At least it does to me. It’s odd. It’s like my body and my mind are living two separte lives. In real life I am a listener, a clown, a fool even, and laugh and weep easily. My online self is me with authority, is the me who I feel nobody who could see my face would ever believe. My online self is designing me, giving me confidence, and then I take that out into my real life, where I am free to keep my thoughts to myself and just absorb what is there.

    1. Presence means so much in this world and how we interact with each other is an important factor in human relationships. I know if I am around new people I am more apt to be quiet but in circle of friends I am more genial.

      I enjoy the process of blogging and don’t think I am that much different from online. I just am who I am and really can’t change that for better or worse.

  7. I definitely think it changed it. My husband and I work with teenagers and see how they rarely contact one another unless they text or Facebook. Even as an adult, I have to be mindful to remember to actually call or go out of my way to make an extra effort to call people.

    1. It is funny how it can be an extra effort to make the phone call but a message just flows much easier sometimes…My son is on the brink of the teenage years and his friends are starting to get phones. I am holding my heels onto the ground on this one…What does an eleven year old even need a phone?

  8. I used to love the phone. I would be able to talk on it for hours. now it makes me crazy. Yesterday a former client called me to “catch up” After about 15 minutes I had to email one of the girls on my team to rescue me and come into my office and say that she needed me – he wouldn’t come up for air! Through blogging I feel like i have a whole amazing group of friends that I wouldn’t ever have had before. Even though i may never have “met them” I consider them to be so dear… and sometimes value their thoughts and opinions more than people I know in real life (you so included).

    1. Oh my gosh! I hate those phone calls! I enjoy the effortless ones with friends and family. But sometimes I might have to be in the right frame of mind to do so.

      Blogging has opened a new door in which I do get to meet a lot of great people. I love talking to you as you know your opinion and guidance has always been appreciated 🙂

  9. I don’t think ‘online’ friendships are the same as face to face friendships but I have found a dimension in which I think they are very valuable. On line we tend to get to know each other from the inside first, rather than the outside, because we are both more intimate and outspoken on line. For that reason I have made some very special connections of an informal, often unrecognised and implicit quality with people whose lives have many echoes of the one I live, and who think in ways I do but live many thousands of miles from me.

    In the main I shall never meet them, or formally recognise that they have become important to me, but there presence makes me feel less isolated and more of a community. It is a true blessing of the modern world

  10. Hmmm. I’m more comfortable with text than with face-to-face communication, so texting and Facebook have actually brought me closer to most of my family and extended my group of friends. Friendship is an organic thing, not a static thing. The rules, conditions, and media guiding and structuring relationship dyads have been changing for as long as there have been people. I don’t imagine they will stop. 🙂

  11. I believe every experience an individual has, or collective experience shared by a group, is a catalyst for some kind of change. Social media has changed the face of interaction, in some ways I find discomfiting and others I find heartening, but it has definitely changed the image of “friend” that comes to folks’ mind.

    Anthony and I were talking about Facebook just this morning. He said he’s loathe to give it up because it connects him to folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able (or motivated) to get a hold of him. I countered with, “Those are exactly the people to whom I feel comfortable not being wildly accessible.” I enjoy popping onto my own blog and peeping at others’ blogs occasionally, but more and more, I find “friend” means to me the person I can call to discuss questions, concerns and hopes.

    I love that mine is not the only definition, but merely my own.

    1. Social Media has really transformed the landscape of the way we communicate and has given many grassroot organizations a stronger voice.

      I love Facebook because it keeps me connected to the ones closest too me. As well, as people that I have forged relationships with who have been supportive in so many ways.

      I still believe there is a connection when you pick up your friend to give them a call or go out to chat over coffee. We need to cherish and nourish those relationships.

  12. Absolutely! Nobody meets people and bonds like they used to… the days of pen pals are over! One day, people who meet and fall in love will probably meet via internet too. Interesting, weird, and scary all at the same time!

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