I currently have 337 friends on Facebook, and a quick glance around my friends’ profiles shows that some have numbers close to 1000. Although the average Facebook user only has a median total of 100 friends, according to Facebook statistics; this still seems like a lot of people to maintain relationships with.
Sadly I probably keep in touch with a very small percentage of these friends, and for the most part rely on social media to do this. Yet I wonder whether these sites actually help or hinder our relationships…
With Christmas tomorrow our house has been flooded with Christmas cards from friends of my parents, most containing letters of well wishes and family updates on the past year. Neither of my parents have Facebook, or use any social media sites, yet they have strong relationships with their regular friendship groups, childhood friends, past and present work colleagues and family.
If Facebook were to disappear tomorrow, or god forbid I lost my phone, I would also lose a lot of my friends. There are those from university, who have moved back home, whose addresses I don’t know. There are some living abroad or travelling, with whom I would have no way of contacting. There are older friends with whom I meet occasionally, and rely on Facebook to keep up-to-date on their lives. Even my boyfriend, who lives across the country, would be affected.
If my online world were to disappear, I would struggle to maintain most of my relationships and I fear this would be the case for most of my generation. While there is no doubt that the online worlds of Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat, allow us to connect with friends and family living all over the world; have we become too reliant on them? Do the abundance of social media sites mean we’ve all stopped being social in real, face-to face relationships?