Friendship: Exploring How It Works in the Digital Age
With the hustle and bustle of daily life forcing many of us to turn to the internet in order to make friends and find compatible lovers, I found myself asking why it was so hard to find anyone worth pursuing and the answer was astonishingly simple. All too often I hear the excuses of being too busy to respond to people, forgetting to respond, or having nothing to say after a very short series of exchanges. It is all too appealing and easy to make such excuses for ourselves, though in the big scheme of things this attitude is leaving us curling up in our blankets alone watching Rom-Coms and trying not to cry as the weight of loneliness becomes crushingly apparent. I hope to lift some of that weight from your shoulders by giving you some complex, but easy-to-apply tips and tools for finding friendships in the digital age. The first piece of advice I have for you is probably the hardest of all the tips to genuinely apply because it is all about focusing on introspection, asking yourself what it is you desire out of life and how it is you could go about obtaining those desires as a reality.
All too often we find ourselves coming across something we lack and envying that object to the point of it becoming our new ideal. For example we see a beautiful person on a new viral video, they are standing in front of the new Maserati their Instagram modeling career just afforded them the opportunity of buying, and they are heading to a big Hollywood party to brush elbows with people of their same caliber; now you sit and wonder how it is you could get to that point in life doing something so simple and mindless as being an Instagram model. Fact of the matter is these seemingly simple humans who gained a disproportionate amount of wealth found what it is they desired out of life, and rather than trying to simplify the process of getting to the end goal, they simplified their desires and are putting in the hard work it takes to fulfill those desires. The same mentality should be put toward a friendship, or any relationship you are seeking. Take a look inwards at yourself and ask what it is you desire from a friendship. What is that trait or series of traits you require from others in order to build lasting and meaningful relationships? Then once you have done that, ask yourself what it is you are able to bring to the table in a friendship and what it is you could change to appease someone you fancied. Most important to this process is your own ability to be honest with yourself, not applying positive traits to yourself that can't be upheld earnestly.
When it comes to the first step of simplifying our desires, finding what it is we are really seeking while maintaining our standards, we must also ensure we are being honest with ourselves. There is nothing more off-putting than the person who claims to be seeking friendship, openness, acceptance, and love when you're chatting with them through Tinder or some other medium and it in fact turns out that all they were seeking was physical pleasure, a one night stand, monetary gain, and/or social status. That isn't to say these desires are anything to be ashamed of, they most definitely are legitimate and important desires, but if you do not simplify and express your desires directly to others then you are all being opened up to disappointment. No one likes to feel as if they have been lied to, and even worse the disappointment of having your time wasted, so ensure you are helping the world as a whole by being the type to formulate and express your own wishes and demands. Once you have taken the time to be honest with yourself, and find what it is you truly want in the long-term, then you are ready to hit the grind and start trying to find your ideal relationships.
Finding those desires/traits you have idealized in your own mind within another human is easier said than done, and you have to go into every conversation aware of whether or not you're willing to put in the work required to help others find what it is they truly desire. You can't change another person and you should never try it if they don't express the desire to change for you and themselves, but you can see if what it is they desire is compatible with you and your desires. This endeavor to learn about the other person and what they crave often creates an initial conversation that either sparks the blaze of passion or completely shuts down any interest you may have had otherwise, and either path is progress so there is no need to get discouraged when you have spoken to ten people and not a single one was compatible with you. From these minor setbacks you may even refine your own desires, and come to epic realizations about yourself you wouldn't have known otherwise. Nonetheless your goal is to find those that are compatible with you, and when it happens it comes with an all new set of obstacles to overcome.
The biggest obstacle to forming lasting relationships I come across are all the worries I have about how everything is going. When I have finally found a person that I feel I am compatible with I am worried what they think about me, are they as interested as I am, can I say this or that, is the interest still there or is it dwindling, am I talking too much.... This is a dangerous line of thought to travel down and it actually has a very simple solution. Granted, the solution carries the risk of you discovering this person isn't actually what you are looking for but it is more important to find out early than to invest more time into a lost cause than it is worth. It is daunting, but tell them how you are feeling. Tell them exactly what your worries are, and even express your insecurity. We all spend too much time worrying about appearing strong, but all it does is put a giant brick wall between the person you are interested in and their understanding of the real you. You can never know the outcome, but more often than not your honesty will be taken like a breath of fresh air and a newfound respect will arise in the person's mind for your ability to know yourself. If at this point you get the reaction you are seeking, then I see a bright and happy relationship ahead of you so long as you continue to put in the appropriate effort and avoid the common pitfalls of relationship building.
When we get into the groove of conversation, and start to feel more comfortable than is warranted, it is easy to stumble into one of the many pitfalls of relationship building waiting around every sentence. For me, I bring it up early in the relationship that I tend to ram my foot in my mouth frequently but it isn't my desire nor intention to offend or be off-putting. My next biggest problem is being too blunt and direct with the things I say, often forgoing sensitivity for the sake of getting my point across. Something I come across with others early and often is their unwillingness to open up, frequently opting for the excuse that they are really bad about coming up with conversation topics and they'd rather let the relationship die than to step out of their comfort zone and take a risk. For the sake of avoiding all these pitfalls it is more than necessary for you to be aware of not only the other person's shortcomings, but those present within you and even draw attention to them with confidence when necessary. Never be afraid to let someone know what is on your mind, but be aware of the way in which you present it and how it may come off to the one you are presenting it to.
In summation, and to put everything as concise as possible, developing friendships in the digital age requires awareness and adaptability. The awareness of your desires and comfort as well as those of others are the main component to successful relationships. Second, and equally important to your awareness, is your ability to adapt to the many unpredictable personalities and situations you will face when hunting for those relationships you desire. You will come across a lot of unfavorable people, some may even be aggressive to the point of scaring you, but it is imperative that you do not give up or let failure shape you in a negative way. Always make observations of the world around you, of your inner world, and of how others perceive you. Never be unwilling to adapt if it means your desires will be fulfilled, and always make sure you are adapting and evolving to ensure your success is a guarantee. The relationships you seek are out there waiting on you; no more excuses, only successful endeavors.