What friends?! With an exasperated look my teenage niece exclaims, when I pointed, I never saw her spending time with any close friends.
‘I have about 100#%# friends, on Facebook and 1Million followers on Instagram and Twitter.’
Me: ‘Wow! Impressive but that seems like an outrageous number of people, to actually be friends with’. Honey, how many and how often have you met, in real?’ I went on persistently.
‘Well let me see there are about 10 I see in school every day, 10 more which I have seen on inter-school events and other 10 are relatives and family friends.. hmmm, so I’d say 30 in total’, she retorted.
Not satisfied and curious to know more, I chuckled, ‘Now we have some REAL numbers and what exactly do mean by ‘seen’ as opposed to ‘know’ or ‘met’’.
‘Uhhh..’ rolls her eyes, back to her cell phone, faintly smiles and starts typing at supersonic speed. I call out to her but she’s been transported to another world. My sister witnessing this whole scenario shouts out her name at full volume pitch. As if shaken out of a daze, she gives an aloof expression, ‘What?!’ she inquires, quizzically.
Me : ‘I am asking how many best friends do you have, who you actually know inside out and vice versa, who do you share your sad and happy moments with?!’
‘This’, she points at her Smartphone, ‘It doesn’t whine, like girls do, makes me feel good, though sometimes I am disappointed when I don’t get enough ‘likes’, doesn’t bi**ch about me, is always there for me’. And with a ‘ping’ of the phone, that was the end of our conversation.
The fact that my 16 year old niece was devoid of close friends and had developed such a hopeless idea of friendship signaled a problem to me. A problem that all teenagers, who befriend their iphones and androids suffer; the problem of, ‘loneliness’.
I may not be 16 anymore, but here are some of the reasons, I think your phone is leaving you friendless and what you can do about them:
1.Your Life Feels Pale in Comparison to Other’s
You see people posting pictures of their fun moments on social media, when they are touring around the world and you feel “Wow we never get to go to the Mediterranean, they seem to be doing really well.”. “..gee I wish I was her”. In an ongoing study by Carnegie Mellon University, researcher Moira Burke concludes, that “If two women each talk to their friends the same amount of time, but one of them spends more time reading about friends on Facebook as well, the one reading tends to grow slightly more depressed.”Lot of people tend to post about good times, because it serves for them as a good memory and the positive comments and likes boosts their self esteem. However, the ones watching those happy photos, forget that those are just ‘moments’ captured in someone’s life and in reality they are not laughing and giggling continuously. Their life is just as imperfect as yours. Try to recall all the amazing times you had and you will not be feeling half as bad.
2. Your Selfies Obsession is Turning People off
People who are all the time posting pictures of themselves, come across as narcissistic and selfish, if their pictures do not contain any friends or family members. Also if you are posting so frequently, you are ‘hogging’ other peoples feed which can be very irritating, leading to more people ‘unfriending’ you. “People who post a lot of photos on Facebook and other social networks run the risk of alienating friends, family members and colleagues, leading to less supportive bonds” a team of U.K. researchers found (nydailynews). It is also natural, for your quality of relationship to decrease with close ones when, you become so self absorbed.
3. You Feel the Need to Edit Everything
The cellphone has given you the luxury, to go over whatever you say and edit it appropriately, from your words to the countless filters available to make you look more beautiful. The result is, ‘the real you’, gets lost somewhere in between. When you get multiple likes on your edited picture or your very wise status that is a quote picked from another site, you become used to an identity that may not be supported by reality. You and others might get used to and start liking a false identity that is very different from the actual ‘you’. So, when you meet up with a Facebook friend in real, first of all chances are you might not recognize each other because, well the doll-like Debby is really a plain Jane. When you are past that disappointment, you will be at a failure to communicate, because both of you would know that you can’t edit what you say. As a result, what could have turned into a great friendship is left merely at an acquaintance level, because due to all the inhibitions formed due to social media and your smartphone, you failed to connect at a deeper level. Your apprehensions, regarding you own flaws and to maintain a celebrity persona (with 100K followers) did not allow you to get to know the other person better and form a meaningful relationship.
4. It is Making you Superficial
When you are constantly bothered about how you look in the pictures you posted or re-think whether the status you made would be liked by many or not, you are basically engaged in very superficial thoughts. A study published recently in the journal, ‘Personality and Individual Differences’, claims that the urge to skim through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter after every little while makes you “less moral and more shallow”. Basically, when you are consumed by trivial thoughts concerning your appearance and utterances, you pay less attention to deeper matters like being a good person, who is honest and helpful towards others. In other words you become less of a person who can make a good friend. So try to develop more profound qualities that will make you, into someone worth hanging around with. Be the best friend you wish to have, and I guarantee that likes attracts like and you will soon find one you can form a much more intense relationship, than you have with your phone.
5.You are Suffering, from an Addiction
When you are present among family members and peers, yet sometimes you lose track of who is around you, what you are suffering from is an addiction. As a matter of fact even hanging out with your so called buddies, taking pictures, when you are actually supposed to be having fun, you are plagued with thoughts like, ‘would this be worth sharing afterwards or not’. At the dinner table if you can’t keep eyes off your phone or in school you can’t wait for the lecture to get over so you can check how many likes you got on your new post, you have to realize you will be suffering by the end of the day, whether it’s your studies, your relationship with your parents or the potential friends you could make.
If you truly want to improve in all these other sphere, because I know deep down many of you do, then it’s time to check yourself and limit your usage. Make it 3 times a day, if once seems too harsh, use it for a while and when you are not using it, just completely block it out of your mind, as if it doesn’t exist. It’s like a slice of chocolate cake; you have had your fill, remind yourself that having any more is going to make you fat and not going to do you any good. So when you are, with people you can be ‘present’, listen to them completely, instead of being pre-occupied. True friendships are made by being there in good and bad times for people. Never being there for anyone will make you lonely eventually, you will suffer, get depressed. People on social media might present some solace with comforting comments, whenever you are sad but they can never replace, the warmth and presence of a friend you tell the whole story to.