If one was to ask a group of people who have been on this planet for over thirty years and another group who have been here for less than twenty years what their definition of friendship is, the feedback they receive might end up being completely different. This could be put down to fact that people are largely a product of the society they live in, and as the society one lives in is not static, it is to be expected that the meaning of friendship will change.
However, while there will be a difference, there are also going to be people who are under twenty who have the same meaning as people who are over thirty. What this shows is that not everyone goes with the social current.
And just because someone has been around for thirty years, it doesn’t mean their definition of friendship is ‘good, and that the people who have been around for less than twenty years have a definition that is ‘bad’.
No matter what is taking place externally, there are always people whose definition could fall into either category. Therefore, it would be inaccurate to say that people were a certain way and now everything has changed.
A Big Factor
Yet, while there has always been exceptions when it comes to what someone’s definition of friendship is, there has been one factor that has made it even more likely that more and more people will have the same meaning.
Even though this factor is likely to have a greater effect on people who are under a certain age, it can still affect people of all ages. The reason for this is that people of all ages can be influenced by it.
What is having a massive influence on one’s definition of friendship is social media, and as people of all ages use social media, it doesn’t matter when they were born. Through using these sites, the meaning one had can gradually disappear and be replaced with something completely different.
However, if one has been brought up on social media, it could be said that there is a greater chance of their meaning being defined by it. At the same time, human beings have the ability to adapt, and this is why no one is immune to its effects.
Staying In Touch
That is unless they don’t use social media, and even then, they are still going to be influenced by the people around them who do use it. As a result of people around them using it, they may experience pressure and end up getting involved.
Social media allows people to stay in touch with their friends and family, for instance, and it no longer matters where in the world they live. This has got to be one of the biggest benefits, and as people are busier than ever before, this makes their life easier.
When this happens, it could be said that social media is not going to have a big effect on the meaning one has of friendship. The people they generally speak to will be the ones they meet in person and if this is not possible, it could be because they live in another country.
However, this is not going to be the case for everyone, and this can mean that they not only have a few hundred ‘friends’, they may have thousands of ‘friends’. This can include people they have met once, to people they know through having a mutual friend and even those people they went to school with many years ago.
Each of these people are then what allow one to have hundreds or thousands of ‘friends’, but the only relationship they have with most of these people could be a virtual relationship. This means that there is not going to be any face-to-face contact and if they were to see them in real life, they might end up walking straight passed them.
The majority of them are just going to be another number, and if one was to go over their friends, they may wonder who someone is. Based on what it can mean to be ‘friends’ with someone on social media, it could be said that a friend is just a word that one uses for the names they have accumulated online.
When one eats fast food, they may think it tastes good and they may believe that they are getting what they need, but there is also the chance that they will soon feel hungry, and if they were to only eat fast food, their health is likely to suffer. One way of looking at fast food would then be to say that it creates the illusion that one will be getting what they need.
The same could be said in regards to social media, and this is because there is so much more to a friend that someone one talks to over a screen. So just like one needs real food in order to live a fulfilling life, they also need real friends.
In today’s world, it is not uncommon for one to describe themselves as independent, and while on some level this may be true, it is not inherently true. This is because human beings are interdependent.
Through the use of technology, for instance, it has allowed people to be more ‘independent’, and this has set them up to experience more isolation than ever before. There is less face-to-face contact and more time is spent looking at a screen.
Now, if human beings were truly ‘independent’ it wouldn’t matter, but as they need each other, this is only going to have a negative effect on them. Less human contact can end up affecting them mentally, emotionally and physically.
The experience one has when they meet up with a real friend in person is going to be far more fulfilling than the experience of talking to a ‘friend’ over a screen. They will have physical contact for one thing, and they will also regulate each other’s nervous system and there will also be the chance for them to experience real intimacy, among other things.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.