Title Card - Thoughts On Being Social

Thoughts On Being Social

I had a conversation with my partner recently that I thought would be a good topic to share with you, the FOCUS Inspired reader, on the issue surrounding how people make friends in the age of social media.

The thinking stems from the introduction of social media as a widespread tool to keep in touch with other people. I personally joined Facebook as my first foray into social media back in 2009, but it was largely a tool we used to share memes and play games with, rather than being a super-serious part of our everyday lives. It wasn’t until much later that I felt the pressure percolate through my friends to keep their social profiles up-to-date with whatever they were doing, however unimportant it might be.

The argument was that more and more people were finding themselves to be maintaining their relationships through social media, opting to keep a close group of friends rather than seeking out new ones. People who hadn’t established themselves in a social circle prior to finishing school were suddenly stuck, with many finding it difficult to network with people of similar age groups.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the world is thrown into the chaos of the worldwide pandemic, alongside a movement towards being perpetually virtual to accommodate the strict lockdowns and rising costs of living. Suddenly, people found themselves in a situation where being social amounted to the occasional Zoom call and meet-up six feet apart with face masks on. Schools closed, extracurriculars shuttered, and the world ground to a halt for several years.

Imagine the child who just started their first year of school in September 2019. The poor child who starts their formative years with a taste of being social and developing those skills, only for it to be ripped away and replaced with being taught to stay away from everyone for years. Stay away from your friends, keep apart, stay safe. All necessary evils, but highly damaging to the impressionable young minds who are still trying to understand how the world turns.

Upbringing is also a very important part of our lives, and there are countless ideologies and opinions on what might be considered the best approach. Differences in culture, geographical location, the country you live in and their associated laws, standard of living: these among many other reasons can influence what many consider to be the “best” way to grow up. Children themselves will also have their own opinions as the world evolves around them and they start to get a sense of independence.

In this age of social media, it is harder than ever to find groups of people who are willing to participate together in activities outside of their own routines. Social media feels “sufficient” to scratch the itch of maintaining your outer circles, as it no longer requires physically visiting them in order to have a chat at any given moment. Imagine, people used to tell their kids to get off the phone because they were making phone calls with their friends too often!

All this is to say that I’m not entirely sure where the world goes from here. The people who do manage to lose touch with their inner circle are finding it harder to reconnect with the world and reestablish those close bonds. So what do you do?

Prior to the pandemic, I still went out to choir and concert band practice. I actively sought out activities like this to do because they were interests of mine that got me out of the house and interacting with like-minded people. The good news about this sort of interaction is that the people who go to these meet-ups usually have a similar goal of wanting to be around people with similar interests. I believe that we are now reaching a point where these sorts of activities are becoming possible again, and your participation in those activities will only serve to help them succeed.

Fundamentally, despite the fact that social media is now an even more integral part of our culture than ever before, I believe the methods for meeting people who want to meet people have always been the same. It’s just a matter of getting out there and finding them.