Canteens are out, Facebook is the new breeding ground of friendship!!
Even till the last decade or so, friendships were meant to happen and flourish in schools, colleges (or similar institutions), or in neighborhood perhaps. However, the range is much more far-flung now, and has encompassed almost the entire world into our “circle” of friendship, thanks to the social networking sites.
No matter what your age is, what you do, where you come from, you can be “friends” with anyone and everyone. Earlier, friends used to meet and chat over coffee, brunches, fests, family functions etc. and today, though these things haven’t altogether become extinct, but to chat “online” has become a much more comfortable and convenient option. While it is rather futile to delve into the pros and cons of this transformation, it is intriguing to note how Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and such words have made a significant place in the dictionary of friendship. We “add” people despite not being aware of their existence; post on their “wall”, “poke” them through a virtual medium, and so on. Canteens, restaurants, and college lawns have given way to “profiles”, “group pages” and such things to make plans, share laughs, argue on debatable issues, discuss studies, politics, movies, music, and what not!
All across the globe, the social networking obsession has spread like wild fire. People are regularly updating their statuses, uploading pictures, posting comments, hitting the ‘like’ button and all this is said to create and encourage friendships. Indeed, a major advantage of these sites is that they enable us to trace long-lost friends and get back in touch with them, no matter which corner of the earth they are in. We can always remain updated with the latest happenings of their life, and share our stories as well. Events, photos, videos etc. can be shared so easily that distance hardly matters as a factor. It has given a whole new dimension to human connections and interactions.“Come online, we’ll all catch up together at night” is what we hear oftener than “let’s all meet up in a coffee-shop today”. Interesting or irritating, depends on individual choice.
Even if friends do meet, go out, or catch up on a movie, it ain’t enough. One (or more) of them must put up a status (or, multiple ones) sharing where they went, what they did, what they ate etc.. Uploading pictures is also a must, in which all of them are tagged, and then follows the numerous ‘likes’, ‘comments’, ‘shares’ etc. No friendship these days, can escape the Facebook fever, to be precise. Class schedules, group presentations, post-exam plans, in short, almost everything is conceived, conveyed, and executed through these sites.
Needless to say, not every bit of it works in a positive, healthy way. In fact, if we come to have a closer look at it, these sites in a way often contribute to increasing the distance between people as online exchanges can be very deceptive and misleading. It is easier for rifts and distances to grow, as electronic/technological intimacy isn’t enough to keep a relationship thriving. Some people believe people are actually growing more lonely and isolated with the growing use of these sites as “it’s a world where everything moves fast and changes all the time, where relationships are quickly disposed at the click of a mouse…”.
Thus, we cannot be sure of the efficacy of social networking sites when it comes to bringing people closer in the actual sense of the term. How we use it and how far we let it govern our real-life socializations perhaps would determine if it makes or breaks friendships. After all, artificial smileys and “link”-driven tags cannot replace warm hugs and high-fives!