Social media has added an all-new dimension to traditional friendship. There are some whose friends list run into few thousands on platforms like Facebook. Can they be classified as friends or just a list people added by an individual to his or her personal account for a feel-good factor? Can people who never meet or have even spoken to each other be friends?
Prior to the advent of mobile networks and social media platforms pen pal clubs/ pen friendship served as a means of fulfilling desires of people who wanted to indulge in long distance friendships with strangers or even known people. Pen friends spent their life corresponding with each other without ever meeting.
Advantages – social media….
Social media platforms have given better options, now people can not just chat but also video call each other if they so desire. They can meet each other virtually whenever they desire and know each other better before taking a call on physical meeting.
I am very social and have a long list of acquaintances but have very few friends. I have been on many social platforms since last few years but have never sent a friendship request to any unknown person nor ever accepted anyone’s request. Yes, I regularly interact with people from across the globe online through various platforms. I have never met them and may never meet also.
In my view interacting with people and availability of unlimited material on any topic are the best gains from my foray into the online world. It has helped to remain in touch with reality. Helped me to understand my own kids better. Having worked in human resource management for long I can say that social media has helped in understanding relationships and human minds a bit better. Another good part of the social networks is that there are no boundaries, no caste, creed, region, religion, or age bars. Most people use first name to interact.
COVID has brought the importance of online interactions to the forefront. Even the closest of relations and the best of friends could only interact only online. Last one year the social media has to large extent helped in maintaining mental balance.
My online friends….
I have made only two new friends in last about a decade and both I have met online. Both are located miles away but are with me when I needed their support. They made me realise that friends do not have to meet or talk to each other daily, they can support each other from far distance too. During my hospitalisation due to Angioplasty, I remained away from the social media for nearly two weeks. When I logged in after two weeks there were numerous messages from both expressing concern about my health. Both knew my social media behaviour very well. I rarely missed posting my blogs and replies. The long absence led them to conclude that I was not well, and they were both right. Even the online friends feel for each other the same way the real-life friends do.
There are numerous examples of online friends becoming the best of real-life friends/ life partners.
There are numerous others with whom I interact on daily basis on Instagram, wordpress.com, or facebook. They all only give happiness. On social media you get what you give. You behave well and everyone else behaves good with you. Yes, there are idiots too around but then they are everywhere. You do not have to make their problem yours. Just let them be.
Online relationships have their own pros and cons. It is up to you how you allow social media to treat you. Like in real life one got to be selective with whom one gets close to online too. Trust does not come easy and enough time should be given for it to develop. Only you will pay for the mistakes you make.