By ELENA LA DOLCETTA
Technology has helped humans make many advances throughout history. It has been a great tool in regards to communicating from long distances. Social media and technology are great tools for advertising and sharing news. There are many advantages to technology and social media, however, it seems as though technology could be affecting our ability to have and build authentic friendships.
One of the things that I have learned from college is that technology and social media plays a huge part in the way we communicate with one another. If you log into your Facebook account and look at how many friends you have, it’s likely that you don’t actually consider all of those individuals your true friends.
A friend is someone that you talk to frequently and that knows you very well and knows what is happening in your life right now, the good and the bad. Most importantly though, they are someone that loves you even in your brokenness and vulnerability. A lot of the times, we use social media as a platform only to show the successes or joys of life. Yet, we all know that life is messy.
Through social media, most of us create an image we want others to see but sometimes it does not reflect our true selves. This is in no way suggesting to post negatively about yourself but we must ask ourselves why our generation gravitates towards social media in this way. We post a picture and we are so consumed with how many people will hit a “like” button on Facebook or hit the “heart” button on Instagram or “retweet” our tweet on Twitter.
On Snapchat, different emojis represent different kinds of friendships- whether you are their best friend but they are not yours, whether you two are each other’s best friend, or whether or not you have a mutual best friend with another person. The majority of our generation is so accustomed to the concept of social media, we do not even realize these generalizations are being made for us about our friendships.
Another issue is how much time our generation spends on our phones, especially in college. Walking on College Avenue, so many people have their earbuds or headphones in and their phone in their hand. Generally if we take the same path to go to our classes, throughout the semester we most likely will be passing by the same people.
The fact that we have become accustomed to ignoring our surroundings and tuning into screens or virtual reality, rather than interacting with our physical surroundings shows how consumed this generation has become with technology. The same concept goes for when we are in a classroom, from what I have experienced in the majority of my classes is that we either are trying to cram in readings that we didn’t fully do or we are on our phones.
There are so many people in these classes that we could interact with yet we decide to keep the earbuds in and continue to scroll through Facebook. Asking how someone’s day is going and taking the time to interact with them truly makes a difference. This past weekend, I went on the upperclassmen retreat with the Catholic Campus Ministry and one of the things that we were encouraged to do was to put our phones on airplane mode so that they were not a distraction. It made me realize how attached I have become to my phone and it was such a rewarding experience. I even left it in my cabin and during the day I interacted with so many people and had genuine conversations. It was a beautiful experience.
My challenge to everyone is to reflect on the concept of social media and technology in relation to authentic friendships. Try limiting the time you spend on your phone. Even if you start out small, see the difference it will make with your interactions with others.