With the increasing popularity of social networks, you can now connect with people with a simple snap of a picture. It can be easily said that a large part of our social interactions is shifting to the online space. Our friendship standards have seemingly become correlated with how often that we receive likes and hearts.
With the new norm of virtual friendships, are 1000 Facebook friends becoming just as valuable, if not more so, than 10 traditional face-to-face friendships?
The magic of Facebook
An old meme once said, ”True friends tag each other in three memes a week, minimum.”
The magic of Facebook lets you see what old friends from middle school are doing now, instantly show family members what you’re up to for the day, and give virtual approval to people. When you’re constantly being fed personal pictures and updates about the people, it can feel like you’re connecting and building strong friendships, even if those relationships lack substance or are false altogether.
"That's what friends are for"
This becomes particularly interesting when it comes down to the number of friend requests someone receives. While many people quote the phrase “the number of your friend's list doesn’t matter”, there’s still an undercurrent stamp of approval from society when someone has a long list of followers. Even with a large friends list though, there’s a high chance that those virtual friends won’t actually come to your aid when it matters most.
Oddly enough, most of those "friends" would usually be considered nothing more than acquaintances offline anyway. With so many people on a friends list, it’s hard to imagine someone being able to really get to know so many different people.
It’s quite easy to get tricked into a false sense of bonding and community while on Facebook. There’s a strong show of doing common “friendship-like tasks” such as offering help and checking in on someone. When scrolling through their newsfeed, people will often “like” a picture to show they care or comment, “you can talk to me whenever” but then find themselves too busy or inconvenienced when it comes down to doing something beyond virtual pleasantries, unfortunately.
A friend in need is a friend indeed
It’s also easy to change and alter what others see online. Authentically built friendships rely on honesty and being closely connected to a person’s true self. Getting to know someone often means being exposed to the good, the bad and everything in between. With social media, you can easily filter out the not so great things or alter your persona online to become a completely different person.
Without the personal face-to-face connection off the web, you can’t be quite sure that you’re truly friends with the actual person, or simply with the Facebook filtered version of them.
Social networking is great for many reasons, and it’s true that you can really build some strong connections with people online. However, a real life, face-to-face relationship will always be better than a virtual one. Having a true friendship that you invest your time and energy into off of social networks gives you the opportunity to really get to know who a person is beyond the filtered photos and carefully posed vacation shots. By getting to know someone personally you’re presented with more opportunity to see the full scope of who that person is, you build deeper connections and truly commit to being there for them and in return, they can do the same for you.