A Relationship Experiment
If you were to disconnect from all of your social networking sites (read: Facebook & Twitter, and Instant Messaging), would that alter your perception of your friendships? If you did not have a Facebook profile, who would call to wish you Happy Birthday because they know when it is? If you didn’t tweet or post statuses, who would know what is going on in your life? If you were not available to chat by IM, who would reach out to you to check on you or get together?
I’m not against social networking at all. It’s useful and fun. But it has the ability to make friendships seem closer than they are. You can share on the level of close friends, and know about others on a level that usually only good friends know, but no one has to really put in much time or effort. Without those fast internet connections, maintaining friendships requires conscious intentionality; without the convenience of an instant message or a wall post, one would have to carve out time for a phone conversation or a get together. We make time for those things we deem important. Real relationships are between people who go out of their way to remain connected to one another. Not all friendships are deep. There are work associates, schoolmates, people you know in passing or just socially. That’s perfectly OK. It’s just good to remember that any relationship worth having will require an investment of time and effort–both on your part and that of the other person. If one or both is only around so long as its convenient, well, that “friendship” should probably be re-labelled “acquaintance”.