For most of human history, the size of one’s social network was limited by geography. Now people can have hundreds of so called ‘friends’ through social media. We can link with people across continents without leaving our home. We can have friends that we don’t even meet!
Friendships are a crucial bond that improve our lives and health. They lower stress levels, boost immune systems and improve mental health. Friendships are precious gifts that need to be protected and cherished. We need to be careful that we do not limit them to mere texting or ‘liking’ comments on social media.
Social media can push friendships into lightweight digital nods and winks. Social media can make you think that you have lots of friends because you comment on their posts or send them direct messages. But in essence we crave a deeper form of friendship than this. Without real sacrifices of time and energy the brain sometimes still thinks you are lonely.
An acclaimed study of Adult Development from Harvard is the longest running study in the world. It tracked the mental and physical health of adults for 80 years. It has found that good relationships kept participants healthier and happier. Loneliness affects us negatively.
For friendships to last we have to invest in them. We have to go deeper than texting or ‘liking’ comments. We have to be more intentional than that. Even if you are the only one who takes the initiative it is always better to meet in person. Many people get into the habit of turning down invitations and never issuing any! You end up on your own a lot with this approach!
With Christmas approaching make sure to arrange to meet your close friends. And tell them how much they mean to you.
- (C) Shane Martin