You're not alone

How many close friends would you say that you have? I'm not talking about the hundreds of so called friends you have on Facebook or Snapchat, or the many followers you have on Instagram. No, a close friend is someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing your inner thoughts, someone that you can call in the middle of the night and someone who always has your back. 

This post is not about how many real friends we have, because quantity is not the issue here. The issue is what kind of relationships we tend to create in a world that's all about technology. It's also about how and through what we define ourselves as human beings. Deep stuff, I know.  

David Brooks, an American journalist, wrote an excellent piece about this with the title Intimacy for the avoidant. He claims that social media does not make us lonelier – as some people tend to think – it’s rather what kind of behavioral patterns we bring to the platforms. To put it in simper terms: it’s about why we use social media. Socially active people do it because they want to stay socially engaged. Lonely people do it because they want to mask their loneliness. This also affects what Brooks calls the self, who we are as individual human beings:

“At saturation level, social media reduces the amount of time people spend in uninterrupted solitude, the time when people can excavate and process their internal states.”

I think we can all relate to this. Our addiction to checking our phone interrupts virtually everything we do, and we’re not aware of it any longer, because it’s such a natural part of our lives. According to a study mentioned in Brooks' article, we check our phones on average every 4.3 minutes, or 221 times every day. The reasons vary from getting dopamine kicks to fear of missing out on something. 

I’ve also noticed a preference of texting over calling. Seriously, how often do you call your friends nowadays? To illustrate the point: the other day one of my friends called me instead of texting me, and she began the conversation by saying “sorry for being old-fashioned, but I ran out of data, so I couldn’t text you”. Personally, I’d rather text than call, but I don’t know if it’s because of a developed pattern or because it’s my real preference. 

Obviously, this article made me question my own behavior. Naturally, I keep in touch with friends by texting, but do I have to check my phone that often? And do I have the confidence of avoiding social media when I’m by myself? I have to say though, that when I have my friends next to me, I focus on them and not on my phone. Or at least I hope so. That's really up to my friends to answer. :)