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How Social Networking has Changed the Nature of Friends and Friendships

Updated on July 2, 2014

Social networking has managed to make its way into nearly every aspect of life. It affects the way we fall in love, the way we work, the way we have fun and the way we communicate.

Social networking has also affected friendships. It effaces definitions that are valid in real-life and makes physical boundaries void. Social networks revolutionized the way in which we find people, in which we get introduced to new individuals and the manner in which we maintain friendships.

The aspects of social media influence over friendships are multi-faced. Social media have turned into a primary communication channel for many people. These people prefer living in their virtual reality rather than enjoying real life social encounters.

These are just several ways in which social networking has changed the nature of friends and friendships. The effects are more profound – social networking is a trend setter. Its power is evident in even the most intimate part of human life – the relations and connections to other individuals.


Independence of Physical Boundaries

In the past, we needed to write letters, send those by mail and wait a long time for long-distance friends to get back to us. Gone are these days because of websites like Facebook and Google+.

Friendships can be easily maintained. You can communicate on a daily basis with friends, relatives and former coworkers that moved to a new country or a new continent. Such factors used to be highly destructive in the past and they often terminated friendships. The situation is no longer the same.

Virtual communications facilitate the maintenance of relations between people in conditions that previously used to bring an end to relations, regardless of their intensity.

The Definition of Friendship in the Online World

Social media have also changed the very essence of the term ‘friend.’ Someone who is listed in a Facebook friends list is not necessarily a real life friend.

Online communications have managed to affect our perception of the term friendship. It now encompasses broader relations that do not necessarily include intimate sharing and deep knowledge of each other.

Social networks take the effort out of connecting with others and leading meaningful interactions. Communication becomes a whole lot easier, which also signifies that friendships turn into something a bit more casual than they are in face-to-face communication.


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More "Artificial" Friendships?

Simultaneously, social media friendships are more artificial than the ones that happen in real life. Social media communication is indirect. Much remains hidden when two people get to know each other without meeting.

Social media have made friendships more artificial and somehow shallow. These features are not necessarily negative. Artificiality and the communication ease make it easier for people to enjoy each other’s friendship. Simultaneously, they fail going through real-life situations that can make a friendship stronger and deeper.


Social media friendships increase the chance of deception.

In real life, if the person is not a good actor, the rule what you see is what you get remains valid. The online realm grants a degree of comfortable anonymity. This anonymity increases the chance of deception.

Though social media have facilitated communications, they have made people more cautious. In the web, people can pretend. They can be whoever they dream to be. Online friendships can often turn out to be pure manipulations. This is probably the most dangerous aspect of virtual communication.

Social media have changed friendships, making them simple and more deceptive at the same time. Regardless of the benefits and disadvantages, social media managed to modify seriously the manner in which people connect, communicate and stay in touch. These tendencies are here to stay.


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