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The Real Meaning of Relationships

Is social media really social?

Do you enjoy friendship with someone that has spanned the time since you both went to primary school? If you have, count yourself as one of the fortunate ones.

It seems that long-term, meaningful friendships are not as common as they once were, at least in my mind. I read an article in a July 2012 edition of The New York Times by Alex Williams titled "Why Is it Hard to Make Friends Over 30?" that suggested that as one ages, they hold on to fewer friendships and find it harder to find new ones.

I realized that this was true of my situation. So, I began to reflect on whether it was my own actions that lead to this outcome. The truth is this phenomenon can be easily explained and quite common. People get married, they move, and even some die young. These reasons are not rocket science.

But take heart. People come into our lives for various reasons, and sometimes those friendships are challenged, and they may move on. There is a divine purpose for every interaction that happens in our lives. Sometimes we feel guilt over whether we did enough to prolong a friendship. But the true is, stuff happens, and we often not in control of everything that happens.

As you age, it is easy to rationalize your inability to attract friendships by saying it is OK as you may have a high friend count in your social media accounts.

Facebook has literally turned upside down the meaning of the word "friend." I used to think of "friend" as a noun, but people now are it using as a verb: "I'm going to friend that girl I met at a networking event today."

I have 300 friends linked to my Facebook page. That may seem like a lot, but I accumulated most of those several years ago. I cherish those friends that take the time to engage in some conversation with me every day. However, some of those friends are people that I hardly know, and I wouldn't come running to them to share my most private thoughts. They are friends according to Facebook classification, but are they really friends? Some friendships on Facebook are move shallow than others, and we must recognize that. A friendship count should not represent our worth to society.

Could it be that social media is not as social as we think and that it has a much greater intended purpose? Our popularity as measured by society should not come down to the click of a button on your computer.

I think that social media sites such as Facebook trivialize the meaning of friendships. In fact, even for LinkedIn, the business connection site, developing networking connections should never be as easy as clicking a button. I've made hundreds of connections through this site. Many of those connections have been helpful in getting job leads, but some are self-serving where they try to engage you by selling a product or service. Some connections genuinely want to help you build your business prospects while with others you will want to tread carefully.

Cultivating friendships and other relationships takes some effort to see them grow and become meaningful. It's should be more than just "friending" someone's profile. To make friends with others, personal and business related, you must be a friend to them. That means expressing yourself in some way that takes some effort, such as getting off your chair and picking up the phone or leaving the house or office to pay a visit.

In some extreme cases that may require stepping outside your comfort zone. By doing so, the rewards are often much greater.

That is what leads to a meaningful friendship.

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The Real Meaning of Relationships
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