Forming Genuine Connections on Social Media

Elizabeth Reyn
Forming Genuine Connections on Social Media

My Personal Experience

Having been an avid Facebook user since 2007, a few months ago, I made the decision to temporarily deactivate my Facebook. Previously, I had only gone on short breaks away from Facebook, the longest being a week during finals week at college. Each time, I felt reluctant about it, usually hovering my mouse over the re-activate button, forcing myself to wait and reward myself once that pesky exam was done.

This time was different. Facebook was getting noisy and overbearing. Messages came straight to my phone even when I wasn’t online. People who I hadn’t talked to in years filled my newsfeed with status rants about their fresh break-ups or photos from parties being held on the other end of the United States. It was time for a break. Three months of my hiatus later, I have gone back, but I primarily keep in touch with only close friends via in-person meet-ups, phone call, text, or email.

Keeping Connections at a Distance

Social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn were created to facilitate the process of forming connections with people. Never has reuniting with someone from your past become such a breeze. All you do is type their name into a search, click enter, and more often than not, you get the hit you have been looking for. Once they accept you into their network, you have access to whatever information they have on their pages, including the ability to message them at any particular time.

While the digital age does make it easier to reconnect with old friends, link you closer with a prospective employer, or connect your business to its target audience, having so many connections often has the capability of creating a personal distance between you and your network. The larger the “friend” pool, the wider the gap between two individuals, hindering any chance of a deep personal or professional relationships. Ironic, isn’t it?

Quantity Over Quality

Accumulating friends and connections on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn has become similar to collecting rocks at the beach.  Because all of them look appealing in the moment, you grab as many as you can. But ultimately, no matter how respective the process of collecting seemed at the moment, the memorable rocks are the ones that stand out, the ones you will eventually display in your room at home.

The last time I looked back through my Facebook, I realized that I only keep in touch with or would like to keep in touch with only a handful of people. Nowadays, the number of friends or connections seems to matter more than the closeness of the friendships. While it definitely looks cool to have 700+ friends on Facebook, how well do you really know them? How inclined are you to call each respective person and ask them to go to the movies or grab a cup of coffee with you? Something to think about before accepting that next friend request from someone you know you probably won’t talk to again.