Friendship in the Digital Age
These days, everyone has a Facebook – myself included. It’s not just a website, it’s a major communication tool – I had a barbecue with family friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and one of them said “Facebook me!” as they said goodbye, and his sister scoffed, “he’s always on Facebook.” I learned about a free movie I wanted to see in Bryant Park thanks to Facebook. I exchanged messages with friends to plan a beach trip and with an old babysitter to receive updates about her pregnancy. I’m friends with my host parents from Spain, my old professors, friends from college, high school, old summer camps. I’ve even received breaking news from Facebook – particularly updates about things going on at American or DC. When I got my iPhone, it was the first app I installed. And I’m not even on it as often as some people I know!
You get the idea – Facebook has become part of the social fabric of our lives, whether we like it or not.
My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have scoffed at my constant checking of my Facebook feed – but as a recent study shows, this is the way friends interact. Contrary to popular stereotypes:
- People who use the social network multiple times a day have an average of “9% more close, core ties in their overall social network compared with other internet users,” the Pew study says. And yes, they have actually met almost all their Facebook friends: Only 7% of their friend list consists of people they’ve never spoken to in real life. (via)
- Those on Facebook get more support, companionship, and “instrumental aid”—when they’re sick, for example, friends lend a hand.
- Facebookers are also more politically involved than other people on the Internet: Those on the site several times daily are 2.5 times more likely to go to a meeting or rally, 57% more likely to affect another’s vote, and 43% more likely to say they’ll vote, notes Politico.
Facebook isn’t a way of avoiding contact, it’s a way to streamline it into one easy to access location. As Anthony Weiner’s downfall shows, we’re using Social Networking in important ways more often than ever before. Basically: Our lives and relationships are changing, and there’s not a thing we can do about it – but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of true friendships, it just means the beginning of a new type of friendship.