Friendship and Technology
FRIENDSHIP AND TECHNOLOGY 8
Withthe advent of globalization, technology is widely recognized as oneof the developments that have brought immense benefits toindividuals, societies, and the world at large. A major impact oftechnology is that it has made it possible to establish and sustaincommunities that pursue a common interest. Precisely, technologicalrevolutions have given people greater opportunities to interact withone another, and have thus accelerated the pace of relationshipbuilding (Aiello & McFarland, 2014). Thanks to technology, it isnow easy to find and associate with people who share similar opinionsand visions. Nonetheless, technology has been found to reduce “thebonding power of [such] experiences” (Aiello & McFarland, 2014p.166). In other words, the kind of interaction that takes place viatechnological tools of communication is only artificial theface-to-face element is absent. A crucial implication of this is thattechnology has significantly diminished the intimacy as well as theemotional exchanges that are required for fulfilling relationships.Based on this, it can rightly be argued that technology hasnegatively affected the quality of friendships.
Whilstacknowledging that technology, precisely social media, gives people asense of greater connectedness with their friends, it is equallyimportant to recognize that face-to-face communication is morepowerful than communication via social media. According to Singer andSinger (2012), the exchanges that take place on social media are morepublic and superficial when compared to those that are madeface-to-face. In fact, it has been said that the messages sent viasocial media are not conversations but mere exchanges they do notprovide communicating parties with the opportunity to developattributes like empathy, which are vital for healthy friendships. Onthe same note, it is unfortunate that people have become sopreoccupied with technology-social media to be precise- that they nolonger deem it worthwhile to spend some time out bonding withfriends. This, according to Williams (2015), is a harmful alterationof “the DNA of friendship” (par 4).
Onthe issue of intimacy, there is plenty of evidence suggesting thattechnology reduces intimacy in relationships. Although variousfactors threaten the formation and maintenance of intimaterelationships, technology has been identified to be a majorcontributing factor. Specifically, people sometimes embracetechnology in ways that can create conflicts between partners. Forexample, it is reported that a survey conducted by the Pew ResearchCenter in 2014 disclosed that 25% of mobile phone owners who areeither dating or married are not happy with their partners’ use ofcell phone. The concern is that some partners spent too much time ontheir phones, leading the other partner to feel neglected(GoodTherapy.org Staff, 2016).
Inasmuchas technology facilitates interconnectedness, it has causedcomplexities in relationships. In an era where virtually everythinghas gone digital, relationships seem to have acquired a newdefinition. Thanks to the internet, individuals are now in a positionto form acquaintances with many people without necessarily meetingthem. Such a situation creates the illusion that people are friendswith one another, while the truth is that acquaintances formed viathe internet lack the companionship that defines true friendship(Ramasubbu, 2016). The kind of friendship formed via the internet isonly momentary in the sense that it provides instant attention and anotion that one is not alone, whereas the reality is that it is notsufficient to eradicate feelings of loneliness. The observationfurther substantiates the argument that friendships formed via theInternet are temporary that when friendships break, most young peopletoday respond by blocking and unfriending one another (Lenhart,2015). Without a doubt, such actions are not conducive to theestablishment and nurturing of healthy friendships because they implythat whenever disagreements arise, the conflicting parties will notdesire to sit down and resolve the issue they will react rashly byunfriending or blocking one another.
Technologyimpedes the formation of healthy, genuine friendships because itfosters an illusionary community. According to Williams (2015),social media addicts strongly adhere to the misperception that theyhave a huge support system. This notion is based on the misguidedassumption that the bigger the number of followers a person hasonline, the more friends he/she has. However, the reality is thattrue friendship is measured in terms of faithfulness. To be moreprecise, "the core of our true community lies in very fewfaithful friends who know us best" (Williams, 2015 par 9). Themeaning of this is that social media gives a deceptive impressionthat one has many friends, while in the real sense, he or she onlyhas many followers who will not necessarily stand with him or her inthe time of need.
Closelyrelated to the above argument is the view that technology obstructsthe development of genuine friendships because it fosters a falseimpression of intimacy. According to Williams (2015), social mediacreates the false idea that we know our friends better. Such an ideaemanates from the erroneous belief that friendship is sparked offautomatically when a person likes another person’s photo or commenton social media. This is very far from the truth: genuinerelationships require communication, if possible face-to-face, andtime. More importantly, it should be borne in mind that lastingfriendships require more than Facebook history two people must havewalked together through life`s ups and downs (Williams, 2015). Thebottom-line is that even though technology helps friends to stayconnected with one another, it cannot take the place of sharedexperiences and personal communication, which are vital for theformation of genuine, healthy friendships.
Theinternet, which is the most popular example of technology in thecontemporary era, breeds and encourages solitude whilst also makingpeople focused on their own issues. As Williams (2015) notes, a majorproblem with social media is that it has caused people to focus onthe beautiful side of their lives to the extent that they fail tolisten to other people’s stories. In short, the internet hascreated a ‘me’ focus, and this obstructs the growth of healthyrelationships because very few people have the time to listen toother people’s stories.
Oneof the undesirable consequences of the connectedness that is providedby technology, more so social media, is that it can lead tooversharing. What this means is that people can become aware ofactivities and information that is not directly pertinent to them(Lenhart, 2015). On top of this, technology weakens friendships inthe sense that everything that happens on social media is public,friends may find themselves with nothing to discuss when theyeventually come together. Because everyone has already seeneverything there is to see and know about a friend, it becomesneedless to meet, neither is there a need for one to pay a visit toor call a best friend who is getting engaged or married (Williams,2015). This takes away all the beauty of friendship.
Itmay rightly be argued that true friends are those who know eachother’s strengths as well as weaknesses. Unfortunately, technologyonly highlights the positive side of an individual, and this arisesthrough the virtual walls that are erected by social media. Accordingto Williams (2015), the common observation is that social media usersonly air their beautiful moments, hiding the not-so-beautiful onesout of fear that their friends will perceive them lowly. As a resultof this, social media may be said to have forced people to spin theirlife stories to make them appear perfect. A significant consequenceof this is it prevents people from understanding who their friendsare in the true sense. A key fact about authentic friendship is thatit is only within a situation of brokenness that a person can beknown fully among his or her friends, essentially because a truefriend will love you regardless of your situation. Regrettably,social media encourages people to project false impressions ofthemselves, hence standing in the way of authentic friendship.
Inan interesting study that was conducted by Aiello and McFarland(2014), it was found that when a lot of information is circulatedabout two people who are planning to come together in pursuit of agiven mission, the friendship that develops between the two peopletends to be weaker. Such a finding suggests that sincetechnology-driven communication enhances connectedness betweenpeople, it has an undesirable effect of weakening the binding forcebetween people. This provides additional evidence that technology isnot always beneficial to the formation of healthy friendships.
Inconclusion, the pervasiveness of technology in today’s societycannot possibly be overlooked, especially in view of its influence oncrucial concepts such as communication. With specific regard tocommunication, technology has been of value since it maintainsconnectedness between people who may be far from each other. Even so,technology has been found to be detrimental to the sustenance ofhealthy, genuine relationships. The literature consulted in thisresearch task reveals that technology weakens intimacy betweenfriends because there is no longer a need to meet physically andshare exciting news. On top of this, it has been found that due tothe addictive nature of technology, precisely social media, conflictsmay arise between spouses as one feels neglected by the other party.Similarly, the kind of friendship that is built on social media isonly illusionary it lacks the companionship that defines truefriendship. Another way in which technology has been found to beharmful to friendship building is that it encourages solitude and afocus on one’s strengths. Consequently, people become toopreoccupied with depicting themselves as happy such that they ignoretheir friends, who may be going through challenges at that particulartime. Based on the above findings, it is correct to conclude that inas much as technology is an invaluable resource for contemporarysocieties, its use should not take the place of face-to-facecommunication, as this is the best medium through which genuine,lasting friendships are built.
Aiello,L. & McFarland, D. (2014). Socialinformatics: 6thinternational conference, SocInfo 2014, Barcelona, Spain, November11-13, 2014, Proceedings.Springer.
GoodTherapy.orgStaff. (2016). 3Ways Technology Can Negatively Impact Your Relationships.Available at<<http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/3-ways-technology-can-negatively-impact-your-relationships-0919167>>
Lenhart,A. (2015). Teens,technology and friendships.Retrieved from<<http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/06/teens-technology-and-friendships/>>on 4 April 2017.
Ramasubbu,S. (2015). Friendship in the time of technology. TheHuffington Post,available at<<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suren-ramasubbu/friendship-in-the-time-of_b_7974934.html>>
Singer,D. G., & Singer, J. L. (2012). Handbookof children and the media.Los Angeles: Sage.
Williams,L. (2015). 6 ways social media is ruining our friendships. Relevant,available at<<http://archives.relevantmagazine.com/culture/tech/6-ways-social-media-ruining-our-friendships>>
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