Relationships vs. Social Networking

How social networking affects real life relationships is one of the most talked about subjects on the internet these days, whether in blogs, news, advice columns, everywhere. And, it’s funny, how almost always people say social media get in the way of real life relationships, how it gives the illusion of friendships and blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I said blah, blah, blah. Because I beg to differ.

Just the other day, a friend said on Facebook that I was more social than she thought, that she’d thought I was a social recluse. Nope, not really, I’ve always been quite “popular”, for the lack of a better word. If you go to my birthday parties, they’re always crowded. Everyone I invite usually goes, friends from different social groups, that I’ve met in different times of my life, at different places. Friends who, mostly, at some time, have met each other, maybe even have been friends with each other, but haven’t kept in touch. Still, they’ve all kept in touch with me. It’s safe to say I’m very good at keeping up friendships. I have many friends I’ve known for ten, eight, seven years or more. I have very good friends from high school and even before. And, believe me, keeping in touch with people is so much easier when there’s Facebook or Twitter (or Orkut, in another life).

On my social networking sites, there are basically two types of friends: the ones I know in person and the ones I don’t, the first group being the great majority. Let’s start with real life friends. You see, my friends, school friends, and I have very, very incompatible schedules. Everyone does different things, at different times. Some study/intern all day, others study at night, work during the day, some have classes in the morning and sleep in the afternoon (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). Getting together is hard, working around all the schedules is hard. We try it, as often as possible, but, even then, it’s hard to see each other and catch up often. And, personally, I hate the phone. I think I call one or two of my friends regularly, if we give a broader definition for that word. If I depended on the phone to keep in touch with people, I would’ve lost most of my friends by now, I think. But, with Facebook, there’s magic. We can just post something, share something, ask something, and the others will reply, whenever they can. We don’t have to be there all at the same time to be close and communicate, we can just do it at our own time, and be close in a way our schedules wouldn’t allow. We even set up a lot of spur of the moment get-togethers online, like, “Hey, you guys wanna go out and eat something?” So, there’s that. I find the people I interact the most on Facebook are the people I know in real life.

Same happens with Twitter. In fact, not only Twitter allows me to keep in touch with friends, it has actually also created friendships for me, with people I know in person, who I might not have talked to if it weren’t for that blue little bird. Take my friend Lila, or @lilapds, whichever you prefer. You see, I’d been in her class for months, and never said a word to her — or her to me, for that matter — until, for some reason I don’t even remember, we started following each other on Twitter, and, bam, friendship formed. It was through @ replies that we found a common ground and created a friendship, which I’m happy to report, has led to us talking in person. Another example is @iara_sa, one of my sister’s best friends, whom I met in person, like, twice. Again, for an unknown reason, we started following each other and found out we had A LOT in common. We’re always tweeting to each other and chatting and joking. Someone from real life, who I’ve met through Twitter. And, like those, there are more.

Of course, social networking is also a GREAT way of keeping in touch with the friends I’ve made when I lived abroad, so, there’s that.

And… there are the virtual friends. Very few of them I met at social networking websites, most of them I met elsewhere online and brought them to my pages later. But I’ve met a few people that way. I met one of my best friends on Twitter, someone with a considerable age difference, who lives thousands of miles away, whom I probably would never have met otherwise, and who makes my life a better place. You see, the thing is, online friends and real life friends aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or. You can have great online friends and also have a lot of real life friends. You can email someone and meet someone else for lunch and go out with friends for dinner. These relationships don’t have to replace each other, they can just complement it. As I always say, the more friends, the merrier.

And, let’s face it, not everyone on my pages are friends. I have no problem with adding acquaintances. I have nothing to hide; mostly I don’t do online anything I wouldn’t do in real life, especially after my parents have taken over my social networking pages (Love you, mommy and daddy!). I think their presence is the best censorship I could ask for. So, yeah, nothing to hide. And I’m nosy as hell. I LOVE checking out the pages of Girl X from High School who just got engaged and OMG, what did Girl Y do with her hair?, and what a shame, Boy Z used to be so cute in middle school, what happened?

Back to my point, social networking not only hasn’t damaged my relationships with people in my life, it also made it possible to keep up these relationships in a way that time wouldn’t allow otherwise, and it’s brought more people into my life.

So, people, what do you think of social networking? Harmful to relationships, not harmful, or just a waste of time? What’s your experience with it? Made things simpler or more difficult? I want to know what you think 🙂

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15 Comments

Filed under Life in General

15 responses to “Relationships vs. Social Networking

  1. Well, gee. Started following your blog after you posted this link on the goddesses. That, and I’ve actually been to Brasil. It is always neat to find people far away that share similar interests 🙂

    • How great to see you here, Amanda!!! 🙂

      Yup, I think that’s the best thing about the internet, even more than keep in touch with real life friends — because thought it makes it easier, it’s not the only way — being able to meet people who live far away, that you probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

  2. Iara

    O que é a gente no twitter? Me explica. hehe
    Sabe qual o melhor da internet pra mim? Manter contato com amigos sem ter que encontrá-los. Trágico e feio, eu sei 😦

    • Nada, mulher, eu também. Eu gosto das pessoas, gosto de conversar com as pessoas, mas não necessariamente gosto de estar com as pessoas. Entendo completamente o que tu quer dizer 🙂

      É, a gente no Twitter 😛

  3. Iara

    Pronto, é exatamente isso! haha

  4. Bia Figueiredo

    And you were whining about how difficult it would be to write a CPE-level composition. Boo-hoo, this is awesome!!!

    Your now faithful reader,

    Bia.

    • Bia, I think it’s much easier to write a CPE-level composition when I’m not obsessively focusing on “getting the right language” and the right number of words. Thank you!!! You know how I hold you up to high standards! 🙂

  5. Samara

    Eu poderia escrever um texto sobre, mas acho que esse seu serve perfeitamente para mim. Eu acho que as redes sociais ajudam nas minhas amizades. Facilita a comunicaçao, a estar próximo, a saber o que se passa com um amigo. Fora que, alguns amigos estao tao longe, que isso se torna realmente uma dádiva.

    E para os de perto é uma mão na roda. Quantas vezes marcamos encontros por twitter? Mantivemos boas conversa por msn? Compartilhamos ideias pelo facebook? Por isso mesmo eu adoro as redes sociais.

    beijos!

  6. Sam, é exatamente isso, eu penso, quantas das nossas saídas teriam acontecido sem as @replies de, “ei, a gente tem que se ver.” “saudade, sábado?” é prático, simples, eficiente. Com a vida corrida, estar com as pessoas nem sempre é possível, mas, como tu falou, estar perto delas sempre dá! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Who Are Your Real Friends? | Hope For A New Day

  8. Pingback: Keeping in touch — social networks that matter « Post Work Savvy

  9. Diane

    “Social Networking” has saved my life and my sanity. It has been THE contact that I needed after the death of my daughter. Being able to connect with others who have experienced AND survived this unthinkable horror has been my salvation. And, oh, by the way, it is also led me to my very fine “social networking” friendship with the author of this blog.

    • ((((((((((((((((((( D & HerSarah ))))))))))))))))))) I’m sooo glad you found refuge and friendship and care online. It’s important to have people who understand what you’ve been through and are there for you, and I’m very glad you have this support. Life and sanity are quite important to be saved, I imagine! 🙂

      Yeah, the author of this blog is also thankful to have met you online! Lots of love, babe!

  10. Diane

    Obviously, I am S L O W at this. [DUHiane and all] But I did want to share another point. Before my daughter died, I would never in a million years have imagined that I would be going online to chat or joining FaceBook or seeking out blogs. I also would have told you that the number of people that I could count as friends was – well – ONE: my husband. That’s rather sad [special yeah, but still sad] ~ but that has also changed. Because of “Social Networking” I have developed Real Relationships. I have made friends with persons far and wide. I have reconnected to friends from my past. Had it not been for the internet, this would never have happened.

    • I think you’re catching on to this blog thing, D 🙂

      I’m so forever sorry about the reason that got you to join the internet, of course, (((((((((Sarah)))))))), but I’m glad you have you around and you’ve connected and reconnected with people and have wonderful friends in your life. I think that’s very important, even if you do have a great husband 🙂

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